The Long Fall
“Is it safe?”
I often find myself longing for this two-week period of my life from back in 2009. It was right after graduating from college, and I spent my time driving around throughout the Southeast listening to a lot of CDs cause I didn’t own an iPod.
It was exactly what I needed just out of school: time away from everything. I was coming off a particularly rough 2008 and figured that since my problems at this point in time were dealing with a couple of girls I found attractive and finding a part time job to pay my cheap rent, life was going alright. The future was wide open for me, which was exhilarating but also terrifying.
It is that free feeling that I keep coming back to as the years go by. Not the fear or the wandering or the confusion about cute girls. It is the feeling of freedom.
Yet I can’t help but think that the more I long for that period of time, I do it for the wrong reasons.
During my drives, there was one particular CD I listened to more than others. I had just picked up a copy of the Jars Of Clay album “The Long Fall Back To Earth” and was giving it a few listens to see whether or not I enjoyed it. I not only enjoyed it musically, I think the overall message of the album resonated with what I was going through at the time. And after this past week, it resonates with me again, bringing back that longing for 2009.
“Is it safe….is it safe to land?”
Safety. Is it safe to land, in this world that is often so dangerous and uncertain? Is it safe to land, with an easily broken heart serving as my only source of fuel? Or should I respond like the song “Headphones”, which talks about blocking out the hurting world around because it is just too much? These were the things I wondered as I freely floated throughout these southern states, enjoying the company of friends and the time before life would come flying at me again.
Looking back on this past week, I can’t help but wonder the same things all over again. Is it safe? When we live in a world alongside people who want to bomb innocents and mail poison to our leaders? Because I find myself wanting more and more to be in 2009 because it allows me to hide from all of this. To put those headphones on and block out what is around. Hide from the hurt. My problems are no longer just cute girls and cheap rent. They are the growing number of expenses that come from adult life and the caring for hurting friends and family when they need somebody there. The work that goes into keeping a long-distance relationship healthy. The attention that needs to be shown to my community, giving back to those who have cared for me. It seems constant. And I want to hide.
“I don’t want to have to hear it”
I’m sure runners in the Boston marathon wanted to hide when the blasts when off. But so many of them refused to hide. They ran into the smoke and helped out as many as they could possibly help out. I read a blog post saying that this showed the inherent goodness of human nature, but I have to disagree. Human nature set those bombs and human nature told those people to hide. It’s much more heroic to recognize that what they were doing was so far above and beyond what was simply human nature.
I can hide from all the mess. I can unfollow people on Twitter when I disagree with their theology or some other aspect of their worldview. I can avoid those who are around me who need my attention. But I shouldn’t. When tragedy hits, I should run into it to help, thereby fighting my human nature which tells me that I am always priority #1.
We find inspiration in dark times to continue fighting. For my mother and I, we found a little inspiration last Thursday when we met at a restaurant for dinner. The two of us were both feeling burned out and overwhelmed from everything going on, and we needed good food to cheer us up. When the check should have come, though, the waiter explained that he had never had this happen to him before, but another group had already paid for us. They asked him to pick a table for them to cover and he picked us. It was the lift that we needed on that day, and we couldn’t help but think that it was some sort of divine intervention.
That kindness reminded us to fight against our nature. To not give up when things were frustrating or the world looked dark and hopeless. To not put on our headphones, block out the world, and hide.
“Lesson one: do not hide”
I don’t know where my hard copy of that Jars Of Clay CD is anymore. It’s in digital format on an iPod in my back pocket these days, and it very often still hits close to my heart. I listen to it and think about those two weeks in 2009 and smile.
It’s funny, because those two weeks weren’t perfect by any means. In fact, the entire time, I knew that as soon as I got back home, things would be hard. And they were. The rest of the summer was actually fairly terrible. But I didn’t hide from them. I couldn’t bring myself to do that, and it must have been because of the two weeks I spent preparing.
I long for that period of time every now and then. But I have to remind myself of Lesson One when I do. I long for it not because I need to hide, but because I have to remind myself not to.