About Me

Phoenix, AZ, United States

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finishing Strong And Rightly

Obviously, I have changed the look of my blog. After years of that old, dusty, rather monochromatic layout I thought it was time for a change. I even added one of those Ipod music players with some of the songs I often find myself listening to these days.

I am at school to complete a full day of reading, thinking, and hopefully writing.

By Saturday, this campus becomes a ghost town and I can go for long stretches of time without running into so much as a shadow of another.  As I write this, I am sitting outside in an obscure part of the school (as the library does not open for another twenty minutes or so).  It is lukewarm outside, silent, and empty and I feel at ease, truly a rare sentiment for me these days.

I have been fighting some persistent blues lately in addition to chronic heartburn (which is totally an old person's ailment). I'm sure there's an interesting metaphorical connection between heartburn and my heaviness of soul but for now, I lack the patience to draw it out.
"I was born in an abundance of inherited sadness..." - Ryan Adams
I've been hearing rumors of Fall (possibly the shortest, most beautiful season in the Southwest) for the last three weeks, but it's been persistently warm lately and I'm losing patience.  Truth be told, the climate hasn't been horrible in recent days, but this summer seemed unusually long for me and I don't like anything resembling it.

School has been difficult because I just feel so uninspired, as if I have nothing new or original to say. I find myself almost in perfunctory manner reading, memorizing (and often forgetting) a lot of things that others have said, but I find it rather difficult to make any sort of contribution, which is a problem if one wants to make it as a professional philosopher. Seriously, many of these philosophers are just REALLY bright; I don't think it necessarily makes them correct in all or even some of their beliefs, but a clever, incisive, and creative bunch they certainly are more than any other group of persons I have encountered by far.

I continue to waiver in terms of what it is that I want to do with my life.  I think I tend to feel this way whenever the going gets tough.

This morning I began reading a journal article on an epistemological view called "Fallibilism."  And as I peeled back the title page and began journeying through the first few lines, I was full of excitement.  One word naturally followed another as did line after line and page after page, flowing like an uninterrupted river.  It was effortless, and exhilirating and my mind was flooded by interesting thoughts.  This is how I feel often when I begin reading either a book or an article.  But then as the day wears on, things inevitably slow down and it get's laborious and my mind grows weary. I then have to start policing my attention to keep it from wandering, often having to reread entire paragraphs at which point I start to seriously entertain the idea of calling it quits.  And so it is with so many of my endeavors and so it is with life.  We set out on a journey, a road trip, a career path, a goal with great excitement at its onset.  Like a bat out of hell we leave the stables but then we encounter bumps and thistles, and grow tiresome and when the scenery hasn't changed for hours we begin to wonder why we left home or started out in the first place.  But it seems to me that hurrying through the first few pages of an article is of little merit in itself. Really, anyone can do that.  Armed with idealism and adrenaline most runners start the marathon just fine.  But the real race is long and difficult and the winner must cross not only the starting line, but the finish too.

I know I started talking about what to do with my life with regards to a career, but really this is all analogous to something more important; it is actually in part, the message found in the parable of the sower.

Sometimes I fear that I will wind up like those seeds that fell along the rocks, which with great enthusiasm received the word initially, but failed to be rooted and thus, as the troubles of this life came, fell away.  That is to say, they failed to finish what they with great zeal began.  I think it is easy to think of "receiving the word initially" as pertaining to an obviously short period of time like a day or a month or even a few years, but it seems to me that anything short of "finishing the race" might qualify.  What if I've been sitting on the rocks for a decade?

I am also reminded of the following, "what should it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?" Upon hearing such, I have most often thought of those persons that are obviously from the "get-go" after riches, or fame or what have you over and above seeking the Kingdom of God.  But I think that doesn't do justice to the rhetorical question.  What about the person that starts with a sprint, but at some point gets distracted along the way and ends up unawares, on the wrong path?  Perhaps such a person might even persist right through to the end, quite possibly being the first to break the finish line only to find himself having run a different race altogether, thereby also being disqualified (along with the seeds on the rock).  How pathetic a sight that would be. To exert a lifetime of effort all for naught. To have finished the wrong race.

In either case we find that there are more ways to fall than there are to stand up straight.  The race is long and difficult, the path is narrow and straight but it is the only one that leads to life.

Dear Self,

You often worry so much about "not making it" to the end of something like your semester, or your graduate program or your career path, or whatever, but these are in comparison, the least of your concerns.  You have foremost to make it to the end of this spiritual journey and it is one heck of a ride; it is going to be arduous and will take everything you have and more.  But take heart, for He is with you even to the end of the age and His grace is sufficient. 



Deanna said...

Joe! I'd abandoned my blog for so many years and just picked it up again today. I changed the url slightly and you can find me now at www.deannarittingerspointofview.blogspot.com

It's going to take me a while to catch up on you and what's been happening in your life over the last several years. I don't even know which questions to ask to help me get caught up, so I figure I'll just read what you have here for the moment.

I mostly wanted to let you know that I'd returned to this corner of the web. I'm sorry for falling off the face of the earth. If you want you can find me on facebook too.

I'm glad you are still out here, still writing.


Joe said...

Dea, Welcome back and thanks for the link to your blog. Good to see you writing also! I will send you a request on fb.