This summer and perhaps for the past two years I’ve been frustrated with myself. I hate stagnation. I fear it. Loathe it. Abhor it. Eschew it. But there is a season for every activity under the sun and I think that includes seasons of “...”
Looking at my travel patterns for the past couple years, my mother and other impartial observers would more likely label my life “erratic” than “stagnant.” My peers (I hate that word. Comrades? Millennials-in-arms?) are growing up: they have jobs, they start a 401ks and families and do adult things like their own laundry.
Some background: I spent years in competitive soccer not because I was necessarily good at soccer but because my level of aggressive competitiveness is not socially acceptable outside the athletic arena. Now, with my soccer days behind me, I have to work pretty hard not to feel as though I’m failing to compete with my . . . with other people my age.
Recently, to deal with the cognitive dissonance that arises from comparing my age with my lack cooking skills, I’ve developed some informal, unspoken rules for myself. Frankly, I typed them out pretty quickly, but before this afternoon, I didn’t realize they had even existed.
|And one day I helped my mom make this cake. And then we devoured it.|
1. Create something every day.
Today I created this blogpost. Yesterday I fixed my dresser drawer that’s been annoying the life out of my. Earlier this month I modge-podged some shoes (they look horrible). I think the creation mandate is one of the most practical beneficial commands in the Bible. I do a lot of consuming (fooooooood) and I enjoy it. Producing is more difficult and more meaningful. And I enjoy it.
2. Listen for a story.
Sometimes I don’t like talking to people. False. I often don’t like talking to people. People like to talk about themselves and I only like to listen to things that concern me. One of my most frequent prayers is, “God, please help me get my head out of my ass” because once I do, I hear all kinds of stories. Yesterday at a wedding reception the elderly gentleman beside me told me about a kid he knew who, at 17 without having ever owned a drum set, became the percussionist for Miles Davis. So cool.
3. Forgive yourself.
I think my biggest worry at the beginning of each day is that I will accomplish nothing. And yet, many days I do exactly that: nothing. Forgiveness is key in combating competitiveness. Besides, “We all stumble in many ways.” It’s onerous, but I make mistakes and I make them a lot. For instance, I ate that fourth piece of cake on dad’s birthday (just kidding--that was not a mistake; that was awesome).
4. Be patient with others.
|This very slightly obscene beagle picture demonstrates|
just how action-packed my life is.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” That’s James’ advice. Yet my modus operandi is closer to “quick to listen, quicker to judge, and quickest to sneer.” I try to think of the way Treebeard waggles his fingers at Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers. “Now, don’t be hasty!”
5. Don’t make your face look like that.
I make faces when I’m judging people. I make faces when I don’t want to empty the dishwasher. I make faces when I think about going for a run. Different physical postures can change your mentality and I think facial expressions are similar. When I twist my face into an uppity sneer, I can feel my heart twisting with it. Hasty judgmental facial expressions leave me no room handicap relationships and my ability to do relationship.
Though I will forgive myself if I break them, I hope to carry these rules into the new school year. This week I head to graduate school where, for the first time in about two and a half years, I’m going to have to work pretty hard again. I’m glad to have learned how to live within the stagnation, but it’s time for something new.