an itch that doesn’t go away

Here it is. Besides the fact that I feel more comfortable conversing with machines than I do people, I want to let my doubts be known in the face of good reasons for letting them remain hidden. Some of my close friends know of these doubts and assure me that this is a normal function of growing older and that they shouldn’t worry me. However I am not so sanguine about blowing off the kind of recurrent thoughts these are. I am also not obsessed with these doubts.

There is no good way to start and much of this may seem like stream of consciousness. At least it does to me. The problem with thoughts that are underdeveloped is that unless there is a way to talk about them, they remain underdeveloped. All the thinking that can be done is circular. So even without a way to talk about these thing, I will.

It is a heck of a time to wonder about what I am doing. I am contentedly in the middle of a life that is not unhappy, that is not unholy, that is also not without compromise. The issue is that I have lost a sense of overriding purpose for my life. That doesn’t mean I have lost my faith in God or the holy aspect of my life would be sham. In my day to day world, I am going through the motions. There is much to perfect in this practice, and it is a practice that has many redeeming qualities to it. Never has it seemed to me to be “Eat, drink and be merry…” but rather, how do I chase off the sense that all the things I do are in the end futile.

I have to admit that earlier in my life, I had a magnificent sense of purpose. I even had a real sense of calling accompanied by signs and wonders, visions and dreams, waking and sleeping. I have never failed to believe that these things were true, yet my connection to these events are like cameos in a picture book with captions that refer to someone I can no longer relate to.

I had a sense of guidance that made me feel like I was solidly on the correct path. I don’t have that anymore, but I have instead a sense of well-being that remains pretty constant as I perfect my relationship to my work and family. I don’t know whether I am better or worse off, though I certainly am less alone.

I am not disconnected from God. In fact I have every confidence that he can speak to me at any time and that I would recognize his voice and respond. I am not afraid of God, but rather am awed by his marvelous grace. I feel no disconnection, I perceive nothing but passing guilt for sins past now forgiven. I am clean but uninspired, even but unexcited, straightforward in my dealings with people but uninterested for the most part in people qua people.

My friends are the delight of my life and I don’t know the world any more without their finger in my mind. I don’t want to know the world without the brain ingredients that they are. I don’t think I have lost anything, but I am perplexed that I am not interested in finding those things anymore. I feel so angry that my world has become new again and that I must reorient my self to it. I don’t know anymore what my world is like. I am swimming in it but I can’t see it. It is the invisible underlayment of my reality. I want to get my hands on it and strangle it.

I appeal to Heraclitus: “You can’t step into the same river twice.” The world is in a flux, changing constantly. Old habits die hard because those are the only things that remain the same in the transitory structure I find myself in. Old habits, benign addictions, simple pleasures and pleasant people are more than enough to silence my angst. But it still shows up.

It shows up when my teaching has been particularly spiritless, when I got all the sleep I needed and still can’t wake up; when I have hundreds of interesting philosophical worlds all calling me at once and I am too consumed with my angst to take more than a passing taste of them, nothing like would be required to actually incorporate them in a growing catalog of interesting mental index cards; when I read the bible for the nth time and enjoy it, but know that I am far from the first century culture it exhibits.

It is not as if God doesn’t know all about our technological straightjacket called modern culture, he can certainly cut through it to speak to us, but that it becomes increasingly difficult to make any coherent theological sense out of my place in the world. I am not confused, as if I couldn’t make sense out of language any more, or befuddled about the meaning of texts, or that I couldn’t try to complete the project, but a sense that the project is not even worth the effort. The world is changing too fast to write down some supposed distinction between what is possible and what is not. It is as if the flux of life carries away any sense that is durable.

This is not a killer of joy, a world stopper. But it prevents optimism.

Posted by dougolena at November 24, 2004 10:12 AM

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