The longer you go

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Ever noticed how the longer you go without writing, the harder it becomes to write?

I’ve noticed it with other things too. Pretty much anything, if you get out of practice, let it slide, forget to be diligent, or let life whisk you away from it, will cease to pull at you. Overcrowded, overbusy, overtired, overeverything, you become one with the ineluctable entropy. It takes effort, sometimes monumental effort, to put words to paper, let alone answer all the other requests made of you.

The older I get, the worse it becomes. I used to have so little begging of me, and I knew I didn’t appreciate it enough, so I’d force myself to enjoy it more than I had a right to. When I’m 75, I wonder if it will still be compounding or if the wave will finally have crested and I can go back to enjoying time passing again. As it is, I feel I’m constantly fighting it.

But the longer you go, the more wonderful it all becomes. At the same time. I wonder if living well isn’t simply a matter of giving precedence to the thoughts of hope and wonder over stress and chaos. Choosing the good even as the load increases. You feel the truth of this and you want it never to stop.

I should apologize in advance for this post because I think I see where it’s going. Heh heh. It’s been a while; things could get messy.

This blog started, as with all good writing, as an escape. And not that it was always good writing, or even frequently intelligible. But it’s become so much more than my writer’s group. It’s stolen time, but it’s given back too. I hope it will continue for many years, and of course, it will as long as I continue to find the need to escape.

The need to escape. I think this universal desire is the great impetus of all life. Somehow it is the galactic source of everything, as well as the purpose of the gospel. I feel some vital, pure essence of life in it, as if all our striving and opposing forces, our calm and conflict, contentment and desire, hopes and fears, impulsiveness and discipline, are contained in its singular motivated core. It’s no doubt my oversimplifying mind at its diabolical work again, but if the need to escape is not at the basis of it all, then why else do we strive so hard? Why are we all looking for something, anything we can find to quell the hunger? Escape is life. Maybe the longer you go, the less pessimistic that becomes.

What would we do if we no longer needed to escape? Would we curl up in our corners and rot? Would complacency recycle our talents into neuroses and replace our awareness of time with ignorance? Could we still understand intimacy without the desire to flee? Would we still value love without the impulse to resist? These aren’t questions to answer. These we must ignore if we are to escape. This is a great paradox just to ponder.

I think the longer you go, the more you enjoy Ecclesiastes. The more you desire the simple things. The fine, ordinary things. The appreciation of appreciation itself.

And I guess my point, if I have to have one, is that I no longer want to begrudge people their simple pleasures or their need to escape. Whether that’s CBA fiction or politics or decorative porcelain figurines. I just want to enjoy it all, to find what’s fine and wonderful in these ordinary things. I don’t mind the distractions and hype because there’s beauty in the let down, as in the chaos, as in the unfathomable fact of our existence. I want to simply appreciate what Eugene Peterson talks about when he says in Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology “We have a huge responsibility and an enormous privilege to live daily in such a way that we give witness to the immense and sacred gifts of time and place.”

Sure, Christians tend to forget Jesus has context in these “Genesis-revealed gifts.” I’m just as guilty as some of my brother and sister authors out there who skip the context and go straight for the revolution, the urgent message of our mission. But this is why I want to value all the manifestations of that impulse to escape. Because it’s the healthiest, basest, most destructive-yet-creative force there is. The inescapable desire to escape reveals and elevates our freedom to choose, even as it assures us choosing otherwise is impossible.

It gives me hope to think this is a great mystery I will never solve, no matter how long I go: I won’t escape until I accept that we can’t.

See you all in a little while.

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10 thoughts on “The longer you go”

  1. The need to escape. Or the need to find. To experience. To learn. To laugh. Oh, yeah. Definitely to laugh.
    To be human is to hunger. We’re constantly searching for something–hidden treasure or the Holy Grail. Running from is also running to. And you’re right. We’ll never solve the mystery in this life. And aren’t you glad? Fills me with the same delightful anticipation I felt as a child right before my parents opened the living room door and let us bounce on the Christmas loot. That joy-before-the-revelation moment was the best part of Christmas.
    The tension is a gift. Learning to love it is wisdom.
    Thanks for prompting some good reflection, Mick. Happy Thursday.

  2. Hey. This is a serious blog. And there’s far too much tom-foolery going on.
    Besides, I think I lost my pink faun. Probably that shifty French house-boy…

  3. Mick said: Probably that shifty French house-boy…
    I say: If you need to get rid of him, send him down my way … my house is in desperate need of cleaning.

  4. i read you and feel some touch of the earth under my feet again. like the planet i dwell on is not so far away after all. and that don quixote i paid so much for is actually in good taste.
    such lovely chaos. such excellent diversions. such a wretched waste of time, i love it all.
    bless you dear souls. suz

  5. My 75-year-old mother told me today that she’s shocked to find that many things about life still “surprise” her. I said, “Wow, Mom, that’s great! I wouldn’t want to live past the point of surprise…” Between surprise and escape, a fellow can lead a pretty full life, I’d say.

  6. Here in my little rural corner of Minnesota my neighbors decorate their lawns with rather juvenile plastic woodland animals and these completely useless things called gazing balls. Bur this post made me instantly think I have no right to call anything my neighbors surround themselves with to remind them of grace, beauty and simplicity juvenile and useless. How arrogant of me. I surround myself with my own icons of peace. You just can’t buy them at Home Depot.
    There is no automatic shame in the occasional (or often) escape to simplicity, or in how you let people know that’s where you’ve gone.
    But I admit I cannot see myself ever buying a gazing ball. They puzzle me. Really.
    Open to enlightenment,

  7. Ah, yes, Mick–very good reflections. I know I certainly need to escape. You said:
    >>I wonder if living well isn’t simply a matter of giving precedence to the thoughts of hope and wonder over stress and chaos.<< I've wondered that myself... My frequent mode of escape has been bookstores over the years. Pulled out of the traffic today to venture into a local Christian book haven. The place was filled with soothing music, beautiful Christmas decorations, and rows of 'just released' books just begging to be read. For better or worse, this is my earthly paradise:-) Soon I was lost in books, bibles, CD's, cards, gifts, and calendars--just enjoying it all. Four different sales people approached me, but each time, I let them know I was just browsing. One sales lady came back AGAIN and insisted "P-l-e-a-s-e, can I just help you find what you're looking for?" (Who said I was looking for anything?) "Please," I answered back, "Can't you just let me escape from the madness out there awhile?" Lord, I think I hurt her feelings. So I bought two CD's, hopped in my car, and switched modes of escape...this time with music, where, hopefully, nobody would interrupt me:-) Keep up the insightful writing....I so enjoy it.