Pretty much everything I’ve done for a good reason has been a horrible experience, at some point or another. Sure, life has its ups and downs, but generally the more “reasonable” and “practical” my justification has been, the more miserable I’ve felt.
On the other hand, things I’ve done just because I wanted to, I have never regretted. Like falling in love. Or moving to France.
I have all kinds of alibi reasons for things I’ve done out of sheer joy. I can talk about strategic benefits, setting myself apart, long term career benefits. I can talk about dating, and figuring out the person I want to be with, and marriage being an important long term goal [eww, really I’m going to talk about the sacred union of man and woman as a goal?- no wonder the divorce rate is so high].
I can give a lot of reasons for things I don’t want to do, but sometimes feel I should want to do. These ones, I find a whole lot more convincing, and sometimes, they poison my self justification for the things I actually did want. Then I end up stubbing my toe and crying when I’m stumbling around life blind because I chose not to see the light. And then God rescues me, somehow or other.
Basically the only thing you are allowed to do in this life and be understood by conventional wisdom is to stroke your ego. That is, have a big fancy wedding, beautiful children, get a fancy college degree and a masters, or none so you can say you are a self made man/woman, have a ridiculously attractive attentive witty spouse, get that job that makes a lot of money, that is super easy and secure, that makes you look like a saint or hero, that makes you famous, that makes everyone envy you. Basically you’re only do stuff that elicits jealousy and has the chance of making you feel superior to your fellow men in some way or another.
Thank God for Rumi.
Rumi was a mystic, and a poet, and a Sufi. He was also a Muslim.
Here’s what he says:
Things Are Such
Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
or watching the rain, petting a dog,
or singing, just singing-could be doing as much for this universe as anyone.
Wow, that’s a pretty incredible idea, isn’t it? And why would I listen to him, when I’m a Catholic (albeit unorthodox), and he’s writing from a few centuries and a different civilization ago?
Well, because it just resonates. It makes sense.
Now, that can be a dangerous justification. There’s a difference between what is, and what we want to hear. It’s all too easy to find the truth in the lie when it suits you. But doesn’t something move in your heart when you hear those words?
And don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, God is big enough for all of us? Couldn’t it be for His own purposes He’s just revealed in different ways.
I love someone who is Muslim. I guess, in a universal sort of way, I love a lot of people who are, since a lot of people in this world are Muslim. Even though we all probably suspect some of them for the crimes committed in Boston today. But I don’t think they are all guilty any more than anyone who has played with a McDonald’s toy is guilty of perpetuating child labor under horrible conditions in China or Christians are behind many an intolerant, cruel act themselves, like Jesuits torturing natives into conversion in South America. Or every American is latently guilty of not speaking up to stop torture in the name of liberty and human rights.
Let’s not talk about guilt too much though because there’s a lot more to the human spirit than that. They say some runners in the Boston Marathon crossed the finish line where the bombs went off and ran straight to the hospital to give blood for the victims. Wow, we can’t be all bad thinking about doing that after running 26.2 miles. Maybe I should go for a jog tomorrow.
And why do we like poetry anyway? Maybe that’s a better question. I dont’ think religion could exist without poetry, and poetry is a pretty nice proof of God in each of our hearts if there ever was one. Something useless, something surreal, some proof that we are moved on a higher plane. That’s not to say art can’t be exploited, but rather that at least we have higher consciousness.It’s not all about chocolate and sex and money and rock and roll and drugs and fame.
Sometimes I just love being a ridiculous person, a romantic, a poet, an adventurer. And then I go back to business school, but sometimes I’m just strangely free of ambition and it is the most freeing liberating thing that has ever happened to me, so liberating I can be super redundant.
And I’m not advocating that we stop paying the bills- just that we realize the cosmic insignificance of them, that there is something bigger out there. Maybe that will help you (and me) see the opportunities we never dreamed of, without losing sight of wonder.
Why pick a certain career? Probably not because you “love” it, or that you’re going to “love” it every day.
Why pick a particular spouse? They are not likely to delight you and make your dreams come true as you had imagined.
Why do anything? Why keep living? What’s the point.
Because you love it. Because it’s fun. Sure, you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and you don’t know how to move that mountain-yet.
But that’s the charm of life, and the surprise, and the wonder.