You can either have a pleasing life or a meaningful one; most of the time you won't get both. The older I get the truer this rings. Most of the times I've been happy I don't remember, because I wasn't actually trying to engage with that moment. And the times I was happy while engaging the moment? Being happy was a nice side effect; being present is a reward in itself.
I'm still working out whether it's better than being happy. Hedonism is so hard to kick.
Definitely the most meaningful thing I experienced this year was a new addition to our family. It's amazing how much one can find out about oneself with the addition of one entity to the system you live in. There's upheaval, doubt, and pure untarnished beauty. The whole experience has been more incredible than I can say. I mean, I'm stressed out and exhausted, but I can't really change whether I'll be stressed and exhausted, only what I can be stressed and exhausted about. And this is exactly the sort of thing that makes said stress and exhaustion worth it. Welcome, little one! We love you!
The collapse of our civilization continues to show itself. I don't think we notice because we have so much stuff on these stupid phones to distract ourselves with, but it is there. I know when I get myself off this stupid device it becomes clear just how lonely life really is at this point. I don't know who my neighbors are, not really, and I've been living near them for years. But this has led to an opportunity to read and learn. I've read more than I ever have before; I may never again get this opportunity. So I'm using that time to the best of my advantage. All things change. This will too.
I continue to put the time in for mental and spiritual health; I've never regretted it. Not once. It requires me to slow down and really work at focusing, which isn't comfortable, but how much does being quick benefit me anyways? And, while it was hard to do so at first, I've begun to share more of my spirituality with my children, something I've found tremendously satisfying. Perhaps it's the cynical modern in me, but I'm coming to realize that I want what I know and experienced to be passed on. Who I am should not die with me, it should be known. My life and what was in it should be known to my kids. They may do with it as they wish. But it is worth passing on the reason for my hope.
But perhaps the greatest gift, that I am gradually learning to accept, the one that gives context to all the others, is the realization that I am grateful for the struggle. I continuously find myself arrayed against interior forces that make the exterior decay of our world look like a cake walk. Time and again I try to turn back to the events going on in the world, only to find it is only an escape from my interior chaos. It is easier to deal with others, to make them look evil and bad and awful and cruel, than to realize that I am most definitely all of these things and so much more.
I find that I am not a captive, but a willing traitor to mine own self.
The more I learn the more the Bible's talk about the heart of man being treacherous becomes a gentle reminder, as opposed to the judgmental statement that the world would like me to believe. Words that once felt like an unnecessary indictment become the slightest of nudges to look inside and own what is there. I absolutely must resist the wretchedness in my own heart. Most of the time I don't even recognize the evil for what it is! I find myself making excuses for it; it was necessary at one point, or so I thought, why can't I keep doing these "survival" techniques? Excuses are so easy, they're readily available from my friends and family. It's not my fault I'm so angry, I was screwed over in pretty much every conceivable way one of my background could be! Whose sorrow is like mine? My Jerusalem was destroyed and it would be so easy to sit in it and despair!
But I find that if I resist this interior slide into chaos that I become more myself. Success is a byproduct: the struggle itself is the thing that I find enjoyable. And I don't mean in a nasty and wretched sort of a way. To resist chaos by dwelling in the purposeful Silence is a beautiful thing. To feel the pull of discordance and to feel interior repulsion is invigorating. I do not think such joy is permanent; the Christian will not end in conflict, but in Eternal Light. So I know it will change. I enjoy the Light chasing out the dark. Cobwebs get swept away, I board the ship, and wait for the day it is repaired and I get to see the swift sunrise. It is not for awhile yet; I will have to wait a very long time. Much was destroyed, and I had more than a small hand in doing it. But seeing the ship repaired, to know that it will be sturdy (even if it's not now), to see the preparations and plans, is rewarding in and of itself. Until then, the struggle awaits. That is my present.
And I accept it with all the joy in my heart.
Let it come.
For some day it will be no more.
And I will be Home.