I know, I know. I said I'd update more often. And of course, I haven't. But I'm here now, and I have a little something to say.
A little something.
Haha... I'll be here all week. Tip your waitstaff. Try the veal, it's delicious.
Tuesday was my birthday. I'm 24 now. I'm old. I had a good birthday- skipped my first class, had dinner with several of my friends that evening. My family sent me a big ole box o' gifts. I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my 24 years (I'll get into that later).
Catalyst Conference was pretty cool. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The speakers were for the most part good (and some were great), the music was good, and it was rather fun. Let's see, what all did we do? I was involved in the world's largest pillowfight (10,000 people), we assaulted the national dodgeball champions; a good time was had by all.
Speakerwise, my favorites were Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz), Marcus Buckingham (a British guy who worked for the Gallup organization), and Kevin Carroll (who worked for Nike as a creative genius, essentially).
Miller talked about how the church needs to not merely confront culture, but rather be on the leading edge of shaping and influencing culture, while at the same time getting past it's own issues and really being the church. Or at least that's what I got out of it.
Buckingham, coming from a business background, spoke about being a better leader, about how the most important task a leader faces is turning a person's talent into performance. To do that, he said leaders need to find what unique strengths a person has and figure out how to capitalize on that strength.
Of all the speakers, I think Kevin Carroll really struck me the most. He talked about the value of play, and how it leads to creativity. He talked about how, as children get older, society tends to squeeze out the creative mind and spirit every kids has, and in so doing, really hinders our ability to be creative later in life. He also talked about how important it was for us to dream. Not sleep-type dreams, but dreams we (should) have for our lives. Big, ridiculous, sky-high dreams that seem unreachable. He also talked about how kids view the world: they see everything as a first. They are fascinated with life, and that feeds creativity.
Essentially, he encouraged us to dream. To play. To look at the world as a child. To me, it was the most important thing anyone said at the conference. And it caused me to really think about my dreams, what I see in life.
So, my dreams in life have been on my mind a lot as of late. I've been known to dream big on occasion. Of course, too often I surrender those dreams to the circumstances around me- school, money, etc. It seems that when things heat up, the tangible stuff is easier to grasp, and the elusive quality of dreams causes them to slip right through my hands. It's frustrating, really.
I used to think that I had to develop this detailed plan for my life, that my future steps were being laid out before me through my current actions. I worked (somewhat) hard in high school to get into a good school on a full scholarship. I had a very serious relationship with a girl who I thought I was going to marry. I went to college. I worked (somewhat) hard once I decided I wanted to pursue further education. Now I'm in seminary/grad school in order to become a youth minister/possibly a professor.
But the more I think about it, the more I feel God doesn't want me (us) to focus so much on my (our) plans, my (our) details, my (our) small little world(s). It's funny- I didn't get that full scholarship for undergrad. I broke up with the girl I was engaged to. I slacked my first two years of undergrad, and only applied myself over my last two years (and even then, I know I could have worked harder). I'm in school still (and this time I am applying myself. Maybe not as much as I could, but more than I did in undergrad). I'm single. I'm 6 hours away from what I have called home for 23...no 24 years now. I moved here and I didn't know a single person. It's been a very interesting few years. Many of my short term dreams did not come true.
The plan I had all figured out came apart at the seams.
I think God wants us to enjoy life, to enjoy the world we have. I'm not saying we shouldn't plan, or that we should not work to make this world better- I think God calls us to do those things. I am not proposing rampant hedonism. But I think, I believe, that God wants us to both enjoy life and to work at making the world a better place.
I've been reading Ecclesiastes for a couple of months now (due to studying it for class). Repeated throughout the book is the idea to simply eat, drink, and find joy in your toil, because it is all going to end. The stones that we stack will fall, and the sand will cover them. The stuff we acquire we cannot keep. The fleeting joys we seek in this world are insufficient. The plans we make do not come to fruition. In the end, after all has fallen away, broken and tattered, all that remains is God.
A lot of people might find that disconcerting. But personally, it gives me great comfort. To quote Thrice (one of my favorite bands EVER)
"I know one day,
All our scars will disappear,
Like the stars at dawn
And all of our pain,
Will fade away when morning comes
And on that day
When we look backwards we will see,
That everything is changed
And all of our trials,
Will be as milestones on the way." -"For Miles"
(Thrice's album Vheissu, from which this song comes, is, I think, the soundtrack for my life so far. It's a great album and I recommend it to anyone.)
I know that all that is wrong in this world, all the pain, all the suffering, will one day be made right. I know that it is my responsibilty to work at this (though not to assume I can do it on my own). I know that, one day, our scars will fade. That helps.
Okay, I hate to make anyone depressed, and I'm drifting from my point. But I find it interestingly funny how some things that I find extremely comforting really bother some people and upset them.
Back to dreams...
Tuesday was my birthday, as I mentioned before. I always get reflective around my birthday. So that's why this entry has been both long and intense. But it's definitely something I needed to say. Besides, I promised you more than just updates of what my days are like. So, in the vein of dreaming and reflectiveness and so on, I have been dreaming.
I realize my two main focuses in this post seem contrary to each other. I say dreaming is important, and yet I rambled about how I think God doesn't want us to plan out our lives. But I feel the two are not opposites. I think God wants us to dream, to dream big even. I wonder- did God not dream big when creating this whole universe?
But dreaming is not a business plan. Dreaming is not detail oriented. Dreams are fuzzy. They are blurry and jumbled and confusing. In essence, dreams are us. And we are, in some sense, the summation of our dreams.
I hope you dream.