Sunday, January 16, 2011

Living a commonplace (boring) life

I have a question. If you attempt to do a good deed and are turned down, does it still count as a good deed, or does it morph into a good intention, and you know where those lead ... ? Why are there all these contradictory sayings in the Bible, anyhow? How is anyone supposed to know what to do? If that's the owner's manual for life, it's lacking in a vital quality, its ability to be comprehended.

When I catch myself trying to buy my way into "heaven," or trying to make myself feel like I'm a good person, I have to laugh! I do it all the time here, I know.

So I did my good deed, or should I say I had my good intention today, because the chicken soup I offered to a flu-ridden household was refused, although with plenty of gratitude. And life being what it is, there won't be another chance for a while. Or, maybe I should say I will choose to spend my time in different ways, and the days will pass quickly for a while.

My family has gone hunting ... the real, manly sort of hunting, this. No more doves or small pickin's, they are going to a ranch with exotics (deer, mainly) and Austin talked of bringing back a deer head to mount in his room, which I promptly vetoed. In fact, I don't want to see any fur, or hooves, or bones, or anything that resembles the original animal. I will, however, gladly eat the meat! That's not so much because I am a big-time carnivore, because I am getting less and less so over time. But, if I had the choice, I would rather eat deer meat than the meat that comes from giant agribusinesses. It is much more humane and better for the environment.

Being the over-achiever that I am, I sometimes wonder ... if I weren't so hard on myself, what kind of person would I be? Dwaine and I went to a wonderful, really fun dress-up party last evening with a bunch of CHURCH folks. It was a western-themed murder mystery where everyone played and dressed up as different characters. Let me tell you, there was drinkin' going on, and several real guns and ammo (but of course, you say), and right smack in the middle of the evening, we all stopped to say the Lord's prayer for a little girl in La Vernia with inoperable cancer, and it was the most beautiful and amazing feeling -- to be surrounded by "such a great cloud of witnesses" is how Paul describes it. I felt just indescribably like I was home.

By the way, I usually do not feel that way at church, because I know I am an outsider just coming to visit. My God just doesn't fit inside any church, anywhere. For one thing, this universal presence I sense is just too weird. I'm not even sure "God" is the right description.

But anyhow, back to last night. I was laughing and acting my part (I was a saloon-girl hussy, and I must say I did OK), and I thought, oh! This is the other side of life. Just having fun and not brooding about coulda, shoulda, wouldas all the time. Not being so very responsible. What's that song by Supertramp? Responsible, practical, logical, etc. Maybe I've been "Mom" too long, or more likely I was just born that way.

Recently, I have gotten this new message about my life: I need to work on blooming where I have been planted. Not imagining life as a missionary in Africa! God knows I wouldn't last a month over there. My soul is restless, and it sometimes seems as though my entire focus is simply to try to avoid whatever is happening in my life right now. Unless it's just loads of fun! Which is sort of a rarity. "Fun" doesn't quite describe work ... home life ... volunteering at church ... working out ... running errands with the husband ... you get the idea. So, avoid all those and rush on to the next thing, and pretty soon the next thing is, you're dead. So hardy-har, the joke's on you!

I was at church at yet another meeting the other evening, and I looked around with new eyes and said, 1) I chose to be here tonight, and 2) I'm actually glad I am here! ! ! (at a church meeting? But I hate church meetings!) Here, I thought, I can actually do some good and have some influence. Will it change the world? Probably not. So why am I always harping on that? Why does it have to be something tremendously big, or I'm just going to put a pathetic half-hearted effort into it? There's something wrong with that.

It reminds me of a Henry James story, "The Beast in the Jungle," where the main character had a sense all through his life that he was someone special, with a unique destiny lurking ahead, like the proverbial beast in the jungle. His lady friend questioned him about it. He tried to put his finger upon what twist of fate was waiting for him, but never could. He remained preoccupied with his special place in the universe and the knowledge that he couldn't commit to anything else because he was saving himself for this grand destiny. At the end of his life, he finally realized that he threw away the opportunity to fall in love and marry, the ordinary fate accorded to others, and his unique situation was to be utterly alone. It was a devastating story to read.

Another way of putting it is maybe, I should really throw myself into living the life I've been given, instead of imagining all the other lives that could be, and that seem so much more interesting from over here! And maybe there is plenty of joy, and laughter, to be found, even in such a commonplace life as the one I lead.


  1. This is one of the best posts I've read anywhere in a very long time! Thanks, Julie.

  2. I echo Carol, Julie. Wonderful post.

    I encourage you as well to learn to live in the moment of this special gift that you have been given, by a "wierd god" (loved that, too!)

  3. It's called Mindfulness, this thing you seek, and there are many paths to gaining it. I am walking my own path toward being present, right here, right now, and it so isn't me. But I'm learning, and I'm grateful to have friends like you along for the ride . . .


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