Friday, July 31, 2009

Leap, and the net will appear...or not.

I just watched Doubt (with Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Meryl Streep), and the motto of the story seems to be existential: the choices (or accusations, in this case) we make are our own, and we must own them; there is no one who can make the hard choices for us. If one is going to accuse a priest of inpropriety, one must accept the consequences of being the one pointing the finger and supplying testimony. In the end, we are alone with our choice, and it is our choices that determine the shape of our lives. What we do now determines who we become; we reap what we sow. Doubt is the by-product of unmitigated choice, much in the same way as lactic-acid is the by product of working muscles.

I have not always made the best choices in life, and there are plenty of times where I have not wanted to own up to those choices. Maybe I blamed someone else, or chalked them up to the result of a mental illness, or just plain refused to take responsibility. I am realizing now that my lack of discipline, lax work ethic, and absence of career planning is catching up with me.

Then again, as Debbie pointed out, less than a year ago I was preparing to join a monastery. I had given away much of what I owned, moved out of my apartment, quit my job, and was ready to take a leap of faith....until I was turned down. It seemed God did not want me hiding away in the desert praying 24/7. I had planned for this kind of life since I was 19, and many of the choices I made were with the intent that I would become a monk. Now it was not to be. I put my money on double sixes and rolled a pair of snake eyes. It's kind of like surviving a breakup, and now it's time to rebuild.

So much is habit. If you get in the habit of working hard, you will naturally become a hard worker. If you get in the habit of napping all the time and avoiding work and hard choices, you will become a lazy piece of shit. Which is what I kind of feel like these days. I feel like I should have worked harder, planned better, saved more, prepared more. Not that such regrets do any good, except if they motivate me to change the trajectory of my life NOW. I have a feeling marriage is going to teach me a thing or two about hard work and commitment; children, quite a bit more. Paul prayed that the Lord would take away his pride; I pray that God unyokes me of my sloth without me having to do anything. In the end, the answer is the same: "My grace is sufficient for thee." "Be strong and courageous, and do the work." (1 Chronicles 28:20) God's men are strong and committed. I have a thing or two to learn from them.