Here it is, the first day after the family vacation of 2017. I have started pulling triggers letting people know that I will be leaving seminary and going back to work. For the most part, I’ve tried to keep my emotions completely out of any engagements that I am having with others. Emotional decisions are poorly made ones that are usually regretted later. Decisions made based on hard facts and numbers are really the only ones that matter.
Why do I allow myself to get caught up in the emotional fervor of a place? The drama, the gossip, the whispers about so-and-so, the hurt feelings, the sulking brats who think they can do better running the show. Damnit, but I always get caught up in that. I am so much happier when I am free and clear again of all the emotional clutter that starts to collect when I’ve been at a place for a certain amount of time.
What is about to happen next is really the most significant transition in my entire life, in a way. No, it’s not marriage, child, moving, job changing, death of loved ones, etc. It’s a mental transition. Where, possibly since I’ve been old enough to have any concept of this sort of thing, I’ve held this innate sense of needing to push forward with something–anything–that will make me appear to be great in the eyes of others. Something that is outstanding and exceptional. I’ve tried to minimize the really traditional things that accompany such a quest, like “making a name for myself,” and “getting rich and famous”–but there has even up until this past month always been a sense of needing to be doing something that is an order of magnitude above others in some dimension or another of being–be it, social justice, having a career in a particular field, or becoming more spiritually advanced…
It’s an entirely different sort of feeling and mindset to have, to be in possession of, to experience, knowing that I will from now on walk into an office, put in my time, and when I clock out, my time is henceforth to be devoted to simply raising a child (or possibly children) and enjoying being alive. You might think that I would be depressed, or upset, or have some other type of exceptional feeling associated with this state of mind, but it’s more of a “no feeling” kind of feeling–I am not sad, angry, upset, happy, joyful, puzzled, etc. about it.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I even feel a great deal of peace about my decision–not in the sense of deep, calming peace or peace as an additive feeling on top of this. Maybe this is what finally becoming a full-fledged human being is really all about–you no longer have any particular feelings one way or another about anything. You make decisions solely based on the practical value they will bring to your life. The end goal isn’t happiness, it’s simply to appreciate being alive and passing the opportunity along to someone else.
If we do end up living down south, it would be like I came full circle–renting again in far South Austin like when I first moved down here 18 years ago. Maybe that’s appropriate. So much of my life seems to be oriented toward moving in a circular fashion–I come back again and again to subjects, ideas, places–and find jogging trails that take me around and around in circles instead of up and back.
The old thing about what kind of advice would you give to your self of twenty years ago–I don’t know that I would have much to say. I used to think that I would say a lot, and try to turn my past self into a multi-millionaire, but I think now that the big thing would be about loving and caring for those around you more, and not taking them for granted. That’s about it. What you do for a living, how far you get with a career, what spiritual journey you take, how many places you travel–those are all things that bring you fleeting admiration at cocktail parties, but they won’t leave you feeling like you lived your life right if you were a self-absorbed asshole to everyone around you.