Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I made a fairly new friend, Deborah Lee, over the past year or so. She's a slightly younger, more Southern version of my mom, maybe. She's a musician/songwriter, so we get along well. Because I'm not trained in music, but I live in a very musical world. She's gonna come tomorrow and help me improve my singing. JK is pumped!

Deb was Reformed like me. Seminary trained as I was, she graduated from the same place I went. And now, she's Catholic. My way there was a little more linear, perhaps a shade more intellectual, but we live in the same relentlessly creative space. I didn't realize I was one of those people. I didn't see it. I honestly thought everyone wrote poems and songs in the middle of the night. I'd never say they were good. And there's no law saying you can't grind out such things on a schedule. But if you live in a universe where that fancy could strike any time, and that seems normal to you, you're an artist. You're a hippie. And the faster you come to terms with it, the easier life will be. I had baggage; I associated artistry and general creative hippie-dom with left-wing politics and stupid people.

And then I found myself in Alequippa, PA or thereabouts, dropping off a friend. [Let's cut the crap; she was a hot girl.--ed.] Fine. But it was a good trip, anyway. And she's definitely a friend. And when I returned, I wanted to thank her mother for opening her home to us. So I did so in an e-mail. She appreciated my sentiments, and said, "Have you thought of being a writer?" I will never forget this.

Some five years later, I'm sitting in a class somewhat redundantly called, "Calling, Vocation, and Work." The final project was to analyze a career through the basic lenses of the biblical story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. My heart burned within me; I knew exactly what calling I wanted to think about. It was the thing I wanted to do, to be: a writer. I remembered a scene from one of my favorite movies, where the characters discuss the basic insight of the poet Jose Maria Rilke. He told a young person essentially, "If you wake up and your first thought is about X, then you are X." If you want, you could dismiss it as trite guidance counselor stuff, but I think the opposite is true. We've all been given gifts for a reason. It might be true that we have to do something we hate for a time out of necessity. But I think our culture tells us to be "practical" because it hates joy. It hates service. For all the talk of freedom, the one thing this culture can't stand is people who are happy. They'll be happy to give you drugs or sex to pretend to be happy. But please don't really mean it. This is why most people now think irony and humor are the same thing. If you're not cynical, people look at you funny.

I'm a hippie, trying to monetize this mindless blather (and other blather) for my own good. I just didn't see it. I thought I was crazy. I'm not crazy; this world is crazy. It's been Opposite Day for most of human history. Jesus came to set us straight. There is a fine line between tragic absurdity and hilarity, and this blog is a testimony to that, God-willing.

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