Yesterday, I took our kids out for a hike to Morgan Falls. It was a gorgeous spring day, complete with copious amounts of mud. On the walk there and back, the little ever-inefficient humans kept jumping back and forth over the little melt streams in the road. Needless to say, progress was…halting. After the thirty-oddth time of saying “Let’s go, guys,” wanted to just get somewhere already, I realized my exasperation was echoing frustration that I was feeling from the Atheism for Lent course. Five weeks in (!), and I’m ready to, well, arrive already. So, as I was having one of those moments where several disparate things all of a sudden fall into place, I knelt down and grabbed the picture above, with everyone going in different directions. Atheism for Lent is set up as a decentering practice, not necessarily a course of study. You engage with the work of various thinkers, philosophers, and theologians with the premise of letting their work critique you, not the other way around. Well, surprise surprise I was doing the latter, without even realizing it. I was being continually pushed off-center, but I was trying to just find a different center, and that…
Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
~Wesley, The Princess Bride
Under the surface, when we let all our defenses down, with the lights out, lies an undercurrent of existential angst in each one of us. A wrestling with what it means to be alive, to exist in this world. We tell ourselves and each other stories, place ourselves in a narrative, or several, to quiet that restless voice. To fill in the yawning void. And I should mention that I don’t mean that in a demeaning sense; story is what makes us human, what allows us to create, what bonds us together and pushes us forward. “Oh, they’re just stories” is about the dumbest thing anyone could say.
But what happens when something cuts against the grain of our narrative?
It doesn’t take much to spark up the pro-life/choice debate, and this election whipped it up into a veritable maelstrom. For a lot of people, that was the issue that tipped them Republican. Volumes have been written recently (and in times past) on the nuances of the topic, and I think everyone would benefit by seeking out some common ground. So what I want to do here is take a subversive approach, as sometimes getting knocked off center is the best way to get us out of our talking points and see things from a different perspective.
I gotta riff a little bit on the events today.
This morning, Melinda joined the throng downtown at the Women’s March. I’ve never seen that many people assembled in protest in Marquette. Maybe a few dozen at most, but when I drove by (honking with a raised fist, thoroughly embarrassing my daughter), there were hundreds. It was an awesome sight.
I met her in town, transferred kids, and then I went to a meeting convened by the MI Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. The session focused on laying the foundation for building a hub for their work in the UP. The project is called the Race2Equity Statewide Coalition, and it’s currently based in Flint, Detroit, Benton Harbor, and the UP. The meeting was a great time of sharing, listening, and learning.
On Monday, I turned 30.
It’s kind of bizarre to think about. In a lot of ways, I’m more than ready to leave my 20s behind. 30 feels like the final transition into full-on adulthood. Then there’s also the melancholy recognition of time passing and all that. But rather than write about my current state of navel-gazing, I thought I’d boil down three decades of experience into a few short riffs. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far in my journey.
My absolute least favorite time of year is the transition from summer to fall. There’s always been a melancholy associated with it, the ending of summer, returning to school, growing up. Seeing summer friends less often. Underneath it all lies a current of knowing everything has an end to it.
I’ve grown up on the shores of Lake Superior. For nearly two decades, I’ve never lived more than a mile or two from this glorious body of water. Summers in high school were spent on the beach and in the water as much as possible. There’s just something about the rhythm of the waves, the grit of sand in your clothes/hair/bed/food, the gazing across an endless horizon shared with Canada; these things center me.
“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
I adopted minimalism as a philosophy several years ago, but only really started engaging with it in the last year or so. I’m a pretty complex person (Enneagram 7, Multipotentialite), so it’s really easy for me to accumulate, because “what if…?” Minimalism is my check against that, the necessary tension that keeps things in balance, but even more then that I view minimalism as what keeps me nimble enough to be so diverse in my interests. If I were weighed down with a glut of frick, I wouldn’t be able to change directions very easily.
This was originally posted in another blog I was experimenting with earlier this year. I wanted to share it here, too.
I took this pic while on a hike up Sugarloaf last spring (2015). I had our youngest on my back, and the older two kept running ahead. After about the 15th time I yelled “slow down!” I realized the ludicrity of it.