We are perhaps never more aware of our pace through life, as we are at the year’s end. It is a time when I realize how full the year has been; how many things have happened in such a seemingly short time. Life seems to become more and more compressed and time itself seems to bend as the months slide by, like a sleigh ride down a hill that gets steeper and steeper. And yet despite all the speed and the clutter of happenings, one of the frustrating facts that seems to hit me every year is ME. Although the scenery around me is in constant flux, I find over and over that I am still very much the same weak me that I was before.
By far, my favorite season of the year is fall. Summer comes to a close, with all its freedoms and adventures. Nature sheds its green coat in a period of glorious golden surrender and gears up for another trek through the winter. Another year comes our way.
It is simultaneously the season of reward and renewal. We reap the fruits of our labors. We look back at our work. We set new directions and begin new chapters. It is a time of vibrant colors, flavors and warm conversations. More than any other time of year, fall seems to be the time that causes me to reflect on the reality of progress and movement in my life.
Progress is something that I think about a great deal. Nothing is more terrible to me than the notion of a wasted life, of wasted opportunities. Here are two mighty lessons I have learned lately on this issue.
In approaching the next leg of my growth in life, my application to the BSN completion program, my mind inevitably drifts to the reasons that drive me and the goals to which I strive. As I reflect back on the past five years of my life, I become all the more aware of the fact that I have known blessing and opportunity that most previous generations in my family and community have not known. As I write these words, I have on my desk the hand written memoirs of my grandfather’s adventures as a truck driver in the deserts of northern Asia. The life and culture he grew up in seems worlds away. My parents moved to the States in 1996, as part of a larger wave of individuals fleeing the instability of the post-Soviet wreckage. They came here with nothing but a handful of suitcases. My dad worked two jobs for years to keep us afloat in the new world.
I think that people who don’t do much journaling or writing often look at those who do and think, “Gosh, lucky for them it comes so easily. They just have a way with words.” Recently I was trying to encourage a close brother in arms in his labors. He seemed to be communicating the point that because it is hard, then he wasn’t built for it.
In the course of our conversation I myself began to realize that, the fact that writing is hard work is actually the whole point. The process of writing is a quest for clarity on something that we think we already understand. Its a fight to own that which we think we understand. It is quite inevitable that this path will be a challenge. It will require the twisting and turning of our perspective. It will require us to see things from new angles.
Growing up, I was always slightly puzzled by the seeming pessimism and negativity of the author of the book of Ecclesiastes. The writer sifts through every aspect of daily life, all along the way, coming to the conclusion that, “this too, is vanity”. After a few chapters of this it really starts to get old and you almost seem to get the impression that the guy is a bit low on vitamin D and just needs to get out more. “Vanity, vanity all is vanity”. I understand that the use of hyperbole is a valuable tool to communicate a point. But the preacher seems to go off the deep end a bit. I mean come on, its not that all that bad…is it?
Its quite remarkable how time changes our sense of perspective. Especially us young 20 somethings. The world seems to clearly black and white. But time and reality dissolve that naivety. I am starting to see that the preacher is on to something here.