by Kenneth Justice
~ Yesterday at coffee a mid-fiftyish woman standing behind me in line at the counter asked if she could buy me a cup of coffee…..never one to turn down a free cup I obliged, “So is there a special occasion for you buying a cup of coffee for a stranger?” I asked
The woman ended up sitting down with my friend and I for an hour and told us her story, turns out that she was very excited about her upcoming wedding which was happening the next day, “All throughout my 20’s and 30’s I was your average young person whose life was filled with a lot of dead-ends….I wasn’t ever seriously depressed, but I was also never very happy…..I kind of muddled through multiple decades aimlessly with very little purpose” she said
As her story progressed she told us about dating many different guys trying to find ‘that perfect someone’….some of the guys she dated were losers (they were abusive) other guys were nice (but she never felt any affection for them).
“I wasn’t an alcoholic per se….but honestly, I drank a lot because I didn’t know what else to do with myself; there really wasn’t a particular moment when my life started to turn around. I guess it was simply a series-of-moments throughout a period of time in which I slowly started making better decisions” she said
I love to read biographies and memoirs and I’ve noticed quite often the way in which authors tell their life-stories by focusing on some singular point; a particular day when everything changed and their sobriety or new-way-of-life began…..but for most us our maturity takes place gradually.
After my stint working at the Rehab-clinic (which was preceded by my time working in the county jail) the truth of the matter is that I’ve heard enough “sex, drugs, and rock-N-roll’ stories to last a lifetime……and while I enjoy reading books and listening to stories by people who’ve lived those ‘lives-on-the-edge’……sadly; our cultural tendency is too often designed around propping up the people who have lived ridiculously raucous lives and making it seem like those are the only stories worth telling.
For most of us, we have not found ourselves in an abandoned warehouse shooting up heroin with strangers we’ve only just met; for most of us our lives don’t have those incredible-crazy moments which Lifetime Films create movies about….and that is okay…because its okay if our life doesn’t feel like a Hollywood Movie;
—-) It’s okay if we didn’t meet our significant other on the top of the Empire State Building on New Years Eve
—-) It’s okay if we didn’t work as a hit man for the mob and didn’t hang out drinking wine with Al Pacino and Marlon Brandon
—-) It’s okay if our mental illness didn’t land us in an all women’s mental institution where Wynona Ryder and Angelina Jolie were hanging out
It’s okay if the story-of-our-life is about simple and gradual moments of maturation; because for most of us that is what life is about. Many of us go through our 20s and 30s trying to figure it all out…..and its only till we get a little bit older that we realize we’ve started to finally grow up.
For me, being such a religious a&$ hole when I was younger….there wasn’t one grand moment of realization when I finally understood that I was entirely misguided about my understanding of Jesus; it took many different experiences and reading many different books for me to finally begin growing up and realizing that I wasn’t really loving other people; I was merely talking at them.
It took me a long time to realize that being a follower of Jesus had nothing to do with trying to ‘convert’ other people…it has everything to do with accepting people with where they are at and loving them. Does that mean I should condone bad behavior? No….but it does mean that I’m not the ‘moral police’; it’s not my responsibility to walk around telling people that what they are doing is ‘wrong’ or trying to ramrod my opinions down other people’s throats.
And so my own maturation took many years; I definitely would not say that I’ve ‘arrived’ because I still see so many areas in my life that are filled with glaring globs of immaturity….but that’s okay.
For all of us who love the movies….and I LOVE the movies….its easy to let Hollywood shape our philosophy when it comes to love, life, and all the ins-and-outs of becoming an adult. But perhaps too many of us have allowed Hollywood to influence us too much. Perhaps, instead of focusing so much on those people whose lives are supposedly ‘crazy and wild’……maybe its time to start supporting those people whose lives are about simple incremental growth.
Perhaps we should teach our children that its ‘baby steps’ that matter…….Just as Bill Murray learned in “What About Bob“; life isn’t always about ‘come to Jesus moments’…but rather; life is about those baby steps…those little steps we make each day that help bring us to greater maturation.
The Internet and blogging world is filled with writers who believe their lives and stories are so ‘exciting’ and ‘crazy’….but we don’t really need anymore of those…do we? Honestly…those kind of authors don’t really appeal to me very much anymore; like I said, I’ve heard enough of those stories to last a lifetime.
—) Isn’t it time we start valuing the people who’ve lived the ‘slow and steady’ lives?
—) Isn’t it about time we start valuing the people who’ve devoted their lives to study and thinking about the more important things of life?
—) Isn’t it about time we start valuing teachers, professors, and philosophers instead of movie stars, athletes, and singers?
Just a few thoughts on my mind as I sip my coffee this morning….
Categories: Culture & Society