Friday, June 11, 2010

Serenity Now

A guy pulled up beside me at a traffic light. Nothing special, but he seemed oddly serene. He wasn't singing or talking on the cellphone. He wasn't rocking impatiently. He struck me as a man who was taking it all in.

His sedan was dark but not flashy; it needed a wash. Not an overachiever, I decided. His passenger window was partially open. The guy knows and likes himself; I could tell by the way his lip curled up at the corner. He's obviously not trying to be a hero. Probably likes a girl somewhere but she may or may not care. His life is insignificant to the people in, say, Haiti, but he's fine waiting patiently for the green light.

I envied him. And the next guy. Watching people makes me wonder if I'm the odd one out. Maybe I'm wired differently. Everyone seems content to live life, to enjoy pleasures, and to find significance in small treasures.

Why do I want to have some kind of colossal impact on the world? Why can't I just be a normal guy? Not everyone's first impulse is to try to fix people, right? "If they'd listen to me their life would be better," I think to myself almost daily.

Yes, I do see the irony in that. I wish I could reprogram my brain. I'd love to stop trying to change the world and just enjoy it. What if I could appreciate people without trying to improve them?

I'm jealous of people who feel no particular compulsion to help people or be the best. They seems the happiest. Maybe they're keenly aware of their imperfections and have achieved peace with themselves? Like that guy in the car. Or maybe they just don't give a crap and are making the most of the days as they come? Like that other guy in the other car.

Either way seems better than having a deep drive to be special, but an acute awareness of your mediocrity. I wonder if the tragic Venetian composer Salieri ever wished that he didn't understand music so well. Without his musicianship he never would have known how inferior to Mozart he was.

Sometimes I feel like the tortured Salieri. Everyone else in the world is enjoying their waltz through life, either by genius or dumb indifference. I on the other hand am plagued by my desire to be great but inability to succeed. Lately I've been wishing I were dumber. Like that stupid guy in the car.

(That was a joke where it's supposed to be obvious that the anonymous guy in the car is not in fact stupid. Instead, an absurd conclusion is reached by the author in an emotional frenzy. That's what makes it funny: because it's not true. Car driver = not stupid. Author = silly and over-reaching...You know you're a bad writer when you have to take an extra paragraph to explain your attempts at humor.)


  1. Those of us who follow your daily blog got it.

  2. It's a hard thing contentment. I used to think the same way. Wanting to do something great, be someone great, wanting people to notice my gifts and talents.... but than 3 years ago all those dream came crashing down and I was left with nothing but the fact of what a failure I was. But these past 3 years of restoration have taught me the true meaning of contentment. It's knowing your faults and than knowing in your heart that you are still loved and accepted by God. Now, I don't want the lime light. In fact I shy away from it, but my husband and I are beginning to see real fruit in our youth ministry. It's a difficult process, but if you don't give up, the reward is contentment with your life. It is there, just keep doing the hard work and you will find it throuh God's mercy. Blessings to you and your wife.

  3. You can't go back once you've taken the blue pill! Once God gets ahold of you, you are ruined for trying to settle for less then more! Keep dreaming, keep having a colossal impact on the world in your mind for now. That's where it starts. It will work itself out eventually...