Monday, April 21, 2008

random thoughts

I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Literally. Two highways intersect there to form a four-way stop. If not for that you would pass right on through. Its one of those little towns you think of when listening to a John Mellencamp song. I lived within four miles of where I was born, including my residence, my entire 1st through 12th grades of public school,and my church. My entire universe was centered around this part of the world.

I can still recall my best friend John and I (we were neighbors) riding our bicycles from our houses to the downtown area, and riding all over the sidewalks and secret trails behind buildings that only we knew. We would walk the streets some days, picking up coca cola bottles or dr. pepper. You could take those to the local grocery store where they would pay you a dime for each bottle you brought in. We absolutely could not figure out as 12 year olds why someone would just through them out the window, but we were glad they did. We would collect enough money to buy us a coke apiece, a package of gum and maybe some of those pop rocks that we heard if you drink with coke your stomach would blow up and you would die. My friend John was a tester of life. Not afraid of anything. I still remember him eating three packages of those things and chasing them down with an entire coke, just daring the damn things to do anything. I set on the bench next to him in front of the store, waiting for his stomach to explode. Nothing. I was sort of disappointed, but a little glad all the same.

I went to the small United Methodist Church my whole life too. My whole perception of God and church was formed there. It wasn't too bad. It was small town values and routine that formed some of my personality. You could count on the Doxology, the same three or four hymns, and the newest out of seminary pastor trying to get these old people off their asses and do something for Jesus. It was amusing. I recall my confirmation class, which consisted of exactly two of us. And we weren't really willing, we were forced. Yes, forced religion on the two of us by our mothers. So we went, did the thing, got baptized, and moved on. Didn't seem to make any difference to either one of us, but it did our mothers. I was the youth leader, and for a while I had some kids coming to it. Not really for spiritual purposes, but the church in their wisdom had given me a key, so I set up a pool table in one of the non used classrooms (there were many of those) and we put a stereo in there and hung out. Seemed safe enough, hanging out playing pool in God's house while listening to Black Sabbath on the turntable.

I was fairly content there. My world was safe. Everyone knew everyone. Andy Griffith could have been our sheriff. But sometimes, when I was alone, I felt as if something was missing. I was not quite complete. That for whatever reason, this life I was in wasn't really who I am. It was hard to explain or even internalize. I felt, even though I was okay where I was, I wasn't okay with WHO I was. I felt out of place, like I just didn't fit in. The things my friends were obsessed with really didn't interest me a whole lot. I hung out, went to concerts, drank beer on the Dairy Queen parking lot, cruised the streets, all that jazz, and still something, out there was calling to me.

I got that same feeling again last week at work. I was standing in front of my office building watching people come and go ... and I thought "who am I?". Who is this person I have become with a nice tie and slacks and title? What will it all mean in 50 years anyway? And I wonder if others have this thought as well, or are most people content with the roles they play in life? I'm convinced there is more out there, just beneath the surface of our facades we call life. Just past the daily routines and golf games and business deadlines and rules and regulations, there is something stirring just beneath the surface of humanity. Something wanting to scream out "This is not who you are supposed to be!", and there is more too all of this than what you have made of it.


MizAngie said...

Whew, Boy - this one really touched me. I get depressed every New Year's Eve and birthday because of the feelings you describe. Except, I don't look at other people and wonder what they think about their lives - I tend to turn inside and remember things I said I wanted to do when I was young, none of which have happened. I wonder over and over if it's totally my fault nothing worked out as planned (I know most are), or if it was just my destiny/fate to be where I am doing what I do as opposed to what I thought I wanted. Sometimes I comfort myself with the acknowledgment that God probably put me where I am for a purpose known to him - but I wish he'd let me in on it. Other times I curl up in a ball and ask "why? why? why?" I usually feel as useless as tits on a boar hog... Loved, but useless.

nonprofitprophet said...

Mizangie - no, your not alone. I think many people have these moments. If they get prolonged however, I would definitely seek some help so that depression doesn't get the best of you. Depression is Real and Dangerous - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help to get through it.
I'm not doing what I thought I would be either. Wanted to be a lawyer. Except for the money, I'm glad I'm not. I would have been a really good one I think, but I get too wrapped up in what I do and over think things.
I'm not so sure I believe in Destiny or Fate or what have you. There are choices we make that goes one way or the other. Sometimes our choices are limited by socio-economic factors, geographical factors, family issues. I don't think all of us share the same choices. Like college, we couldn't all choose SMU or Harvard, I mean there are limits to our choices.
I also am not sold on God put you _____ (fill in the blank; bad marriage, cancer, win lottery, etc) for a reason. I think God created us to be wonderfully made with high hopes (just like us as parents of our children) but the world often has different plans or agendas that doesn't mesh up with God's. I believe man can, as least in the short run, thwart the Will of God, and I'm pretty sure this either amuses or pisses God off.
My answer is to try and be outward thinking, and not dwell on my own issues. There are so many folks way worse off than myself, and alot way better off (financially speaking). Contentment is the answer. To be 'content' (see i didn't say happy) with where and what you are in life. Neil Clark Warren has a good book called "Finding Contentment" that was very helpful to me at one point in my life.
Enjoy your week! ~npp

KJ said...

wow. this is my story. isn't that weird. different people; different times and places...same story. this especially describes where I am now...lots of questions. But for me, not many clear answers. thanks for the story!

nonprofitprophet said...

glad you liked it. I'm sure many of us share this small town story. ~npp