15 September 2011

Why Can't I Just Be?

Sometimes living feels like a lot of work, doesn't it?  My life as a husband, father, and pastor keeps getting more complex and busy.  That's why I appreciate the simplicity of running.  It's one stride after another, one breath after another...keep striding, keep breathing.  I've said before that running barefoot has enormously enhanced that experience for me.  It has helped me find my natural pace, my natural stride.  I feel like I'm running as I was made to run.

As I said, I love that because it's really one of the few places where that kind of simplicity is possible in my life.  I don't have many opportunities to just "be" what I'm meant to be.  Maybe I'm projecting this unfairly, but I don't think this is peculiar to my life. We often feel disjointed, disconnected.  We go through life desiring deep meaning and purpose, but rarely finding it.  There's always something with our lives or ourselves that makes us dissatisfied.

No other creature seems to struggle with this, though.  I sometimes envy animals who have no self-consciousness, no striving for meaning.  They are content with what they are, secure in their "birdness" or "fishness" or "dogness."  I seem to be so much less secure in my "humanness."  Perhaps that's why in a previous post I felt a desire to leap into the field with the that I could simply be and exist with them.

It's the very peculiarity of this desire for meaning that makes me keep pursuing it, though.  Being human, or at least being Bryant, seems to mean being a creature that seeks to make meaning out its existence.  We are all little hermeneutical creatures, constantly trying to figure out what everything means, whether we do it consciously or not.

There are two ways that I've found myself trying to make meaning, most of the time.  On one level, I love the conscious, mental gymnastics of dissecting and analyzing hermeneutics.  I love engaging in deep dialogue and conversation with someone about ideas and meaning.  In other words, I'm deeply shaped by Western philosophy.  On another level, however, I recognize that I'm sometimes closest to fully realizing who I am, not when I have my nose in a book or when I'm turning everything over in my mind.  Perhaps this is a more Eastern influence on my life, but right now, I'm finding that space of true being most clearly when I'm doing two things.  The first is when I'm preaching.  When my sermon is prepared, I'm proclaiming something that is deeply meaningful to me, and I can see it having an impact in people's lives, then I feel a great sense of being who I was meant to be.  It doesn't happen with every sermon, but it happens more often there than many other places in my life. The second is when I'm stride at a time, one breath at a conscious mind switches off for a moment, I stop analyzing everything, and I just run and breathe.  That's when I enter another space where I can just be me and celebrate who I am.

For me, that's a rare gift, and I think that's ultimately what keeps me running...not to stay in shape physically, or to reach a goal for a race, or to raise money for something.  I run because it's one place that I can just be me.  Wherever that space is for you, I hope that you find it.  It's a deeply personal place that requires a willingness to shut everything else off...then, maybe for a moment, you can just be the beautiful creature you're meant to be.