Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In Praise of the Quiet Life - or, It is OK not to be seeking.

I am basically a quiet man.

This will come a surprise to many who have met me. I get along well with most people, and can easily strike up a conversation with a total stranger. I have, on occasion, shared philosophical perspectives in a grocery lines. And the people I talk to share right back.

My job (which I love, by the way) is VERY public. I make new connections with people on an almost daily basis. Most of those people, far more than you would think, are amazing and interesting. I like talking to them, getting to know them, sharing stories with them.

But then I come home. And once again, I am me.

I like quiet. I like order. I like the times of silent contemplation over a well-turned phrase, a particularly poignant strain of music, a deeply rich rendering of an art piece.

Yet over the years I have foolishly tried to 'fill' my life with meaning and purpose. To find 'the point of it all.' To make a difference, create an impression, "Leave this world a little better than [I] found it."

So I have pursued religion, philosophy, the arts. I have read and learned and taught. I have run from event to event, group to group, gathering to gathering, in search of a plan, a program, a framework on which to hang my life.

But then I come home. And once again, I am merely me.

And so I create. I used to draw, once upon a time. I wrote poetry, challenging myself and creating acrostic sonnets for my wife and my fathers. And lately, I have finally written the novel I have been promising myself I would write. It still requires editing, but it is written. I find it funny that I am not as driven to publish as I was to create.

Yet as I wander the bookstores, I see stacks of books on the sale racks at 70% off. The light from their writing may have only flickered briefly before being swallowed in the general cacophony of published works. How is my voice any different from theirs? Clearly, if I am seeking impact, it won't be in the bookstores, though I will likely keep writing.

And so I come home. And once more, I am only me.

Any yet, I am home. I am in the house my grandfather built over 50 years ago. Here is my wife, whose love and friendship over the last 30 years have more than sustained me, they have formed me into the man I am. My children grew up here, and return frequently to recharge us. They bring with them more family, my wonderful children-in-law/love. My mother, my brothers, their families, come to us as often as they can. My house is full, brimming and overflowing with love.

Not only here. Home is where my family lives and sometimes that is hundreds, or thousands, of kilometers away. But there is my heart also.

On this day, I think especially of my father. He left behind him a legacy of knowledge, acceptance and a character that has indelibly impressed itself upon my soul.

My few friends round out the cast of characters, those who have stayed while I have walked through the valleys of the shadow of death. Those who have given without hesitation, and have taken without embarrassment. I know that I am never abandoned.

I have stopped seeking, given up the quest, turned away from the mystery.

Because here, in my home, I am finally me. And it is enough.