Things that I don’t see as perpetuation of inequality or shallowness are few and far between nowadays. Understanding and awareness compel us to act, lest our hearts harden, and that scares me. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our own strength and abilities, but that doesn’t absolve us of responsibility. I only pray I can find the right balance.
That’s a great question, yet one that I dislike answering in person. I find it difficult to come up with a brief answer on the spot that fully expresses “why” accurately and comprehensively. If I speak at length on the subject, I usually find myself quickly digressing and, again, end up dissatisfied with my own answer.
Truth is, as I’ve included in my response several times, my answer isn’t simple. I don’t have a quick “college is a racket” or “I don’t have the money to stay in school” answer. My decision to drop out has been the result of much introspection, evaluation of values, goals and purpose, input from persons whom I love and trust (some suggesting I stay, some suggesting it may be best not to do so), and reflection upon where I feel I’ve seen the hand of God very much at work.
Every once in a while, when asked what my reason for leaving is, I hear instead someone accusing me of doing something foolish rather than someone looking to understand my motivations (the chances that I’m speaking of you are slim- rest easy). That’s fine. The fact that this might offend or upset me makes myself more aware that I may be a bit prideful. Maybe more than a bit. Anyway, in their eyes, I am doing something foolish. A column in this morning’s Jackson Citizen Patriot states, “All of the data says the same thing: getting a college degree is about raising your standard of living over a 40-year career.” The fact is, raising my standard of living over a 40-year career isn’t high on my list of priorities, let alone on it to begin with. I’ve lived in a trailer without heat, a canvas tent in the woods and a camper without electricity at different points in my life, and I didn’t feel like I was particularly suffering. Each were wonderful experiences that I look back upon with fondness. It’s funny thinking about times in my life when I felt “displeased” by my surroundings or “trapped” in a sense and the conditions I was living in. I’m a fairly flexible person and don’t require much. I understand that I’m young, but won’t always be and I understand that I don’t have a family to provide for, yet may someday. Matt. 6:31-34.
I also know that my main focus in finishing my degree at this point in time wouldn’t be in order to better prepare myself to live in the way that I think God wants me to live. My aim moreso would be attaining a degree in order to gain the security of being able to more easily find employment and esteem in the eyes of others. I don’t think that those are good enough reasons. I don’t want my story to be one of pursuit of security, comfort and man’s approval, although I absolutely get caught up in those from time to time.
Where Am I Going?
Life is something unfolding, something to be experienced. At the beginning of March, I’ll be flying to Puerto Rico and staying at Juana Diaz’s Campamento del Caribe for a period of time yet to be determined. My uncle is the executive director of the camp. I’m really looking forward to seeing him and his family there.
I don’t know how indicative of the camp as a whole these pictures are, but they were my favorites of those that I looked at:
After that, I’ll most likely be heading back to the U.S. Chances are good that I’ll first head back to Yosemite National Park or possibly to Mt. Rainier National Park. After some time there, I’m thinking of joining the Americorps (much like the U.S.’ domestic Peace Corps) for a year, and I also think living in a L’Arche community for some time would be beneficial as well. Of course, this is all tentative and absolutely subject to change. There are plenty of other things, groups, and endeavors that I’d like to get involved with or pursue, but there’s no sense in trying to live that far into the future.
What do I want to do or plan on doing? Live simply and holistically. Appreciate and be grateful. Use what I’ve been given responsibly. Gain understanding. Cultivate something beautiful. Be open to leading. Love. Things like that. When I think of persons whom I most admire and respect, I see gentle people living in uncommon ways. People who look others in their eyes and listen and take time to be thankful and breathe and care.
Erich Fromm says, “One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.” I think he’s right. But this pain and sadness and sacrifice is something that God can work through so powerfully. A humble, broken, and contrite spirit is fertile ground for making a difference upon the world.
I hope that this answers some of the questions that some of you have posed. If there’s anything I should elaborate on or any more questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Listen/ W.S. Merwin
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it smiling by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is
Sailing off again…
I’ve come to a place where I think that it’s better for me to not continue to attend Spring Arbor University. This, of course, isn’t without mixed feelings. I’ve learned much while I’ve been here. I’m so thankful for the experiences and people that have led to that happening. I’ll miss much and for that reason will be leaving with a heavy heart. You guys really have been a blessing… Students, professors, friends, people I’ve only recently met, don’t know too well or even just see around. Thank you..
God prepares us, teaches us and shapes us in varying ways and as unique individuals we have different roles that we are best suited to fill (1 Cor 12:12-27). When we find those thing that we’re passionate about, I think it’s our responsibility to chase after them and allow God to fully work through us. You find that wave and simply let it take you. If anyone is curious as far as where I see this wave possibly leading- just ask.
In regards to the post I wrote about staying not too long ago- I can honestly say that it wasn’t without reason that I stayed here until now rather than leaving a few weeks ago. I feel I’ve gotten the go ahead to “go well”. There are reasons why I want to go and reasons why I want to stay, but it simply seems I’m to leave at this point.
I’d like to ask a simple question to those I’ll be leaving behind (in presence). Actually, anyone reading this-
“Why are you here?”
“Why have you been placed on this planet? Why are you living? Why are you doing what you do every day? Why are you saying what you say? Where is meaning found?” These are questions that have profoundly changed my perspective and I find that I daily need to reexamine myself in light of them. Answer them every day and live accordingly. They cut to the core of our true beliefs and values (think Phaedrus, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).
Much like the past, I’m sure I’ll be updating this intermittently. If you’d like, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the page.
I’ll be around for a few weeks and would love to take anyone out for coffee who’s interested. As usual, onward and upwards…