Using the analogy of life being like a rollercoaster is not only a cliche way to start a blog post, but equally inaccurate when equating it to my personal disdain for amusement rides. Maybe disdain is a little aggressive of a term, although, I don't recall riding a rollercoaster and then afterwards thinking that I really enjoyed the horrifying ways my body was involuntarily thrashed about while being confined to a death chair. Anyways, I recently thought about how much my life has changed; in the ways I've grown since travelling the world for 9 months as well as living overseas. I'm not sure if I would have been able to develop my thoughts on a plethora of topics without having observed various cultures and styles of living life around the globe. There is something that breaks inside of you when you're somewhere and simple logic seems to escape the local people. At that moment you have to remind yourself that 'logic' may look different in that culture and there may be deeply engrained 'proper' ways of doing things. I found that once you return to your home the manner one observes how people progress through life and relationships, it becomes a perplexing phenomenon. From the moment we enter into the formal education system we are being groomed to work within a specific manufactured function in order to fit within the fabrics of society that it needs us to fill. In my own life, I can recall a long lasting anxiety in regards to needing to find my place to 'fit in'. Where in society would I be able to use my skills and abilities best not only to feel fulfilled but possibly support the hypothetical family I had in the future. So much ambiguity filled my mind and I'm honestly surprised I was able to make a solid decision long enough to get through college.
Bringing this timeline to the present I find myself somewhat in a similar position as when I was in grade school. Unsure of how I may be able to optimally contribute to society. I've grown and learned more than I ever did while wasting years in grade school and my views on many things have shifted to an unrecognizable level when compared to what I believed back then. Some people end up resenting or being embarrassed of their past ideologies, however I tend to sway in the opposite direction. I'm proud of my past world view. It may seem odd to be proud of something I no longer ascribe to, which is understandable, but without having those foundations I never would have wound up where I am. That being said, I hope to continue evolving in what I believe along with how my beliefs influence the way I exist in the world. A peculilar phenomenon about humanity is that our beliefs actually influence how we live, which leads me to another question: Is it sometimes more beneficial to believe things that may be untrue but allow us to function better in society.
I could easily go deep into the various ways certain theology influences how we treat others for better or worse or how we understand our relationship to food, the environment, interpret violence and our ability to resist or contribute, or maybe even the way we process our vocation and careers. All these decisions are influenced immensely by what we believe. For the sake of brevity, I find myself regularly pondering how I understand vocation. I began thinking I was going to be a professional athlete, then that dream shattered, after I thought I wanted to go into media and marketing and then that dream became shallow and unfulfilling. Now I find myself with a simple mantra that I hope guides my decisions in the most positive, or dare I say 'Christ like' way possible: Does thing bring about Shalom?
If you've read an earlier post title, "Hippie Heretic," you're probably thinking that is a pretty sufficient way to write off my thoughts. Or you may be thinking Jesus wasn't always bringing back Shalom, and sure you might be able to observe some instances He did in a non peaceful manner. I just think you're wrong and would love to talk to you about it. When it comes to the career or vocation or calling or whatever title you feel gives what you do the most significance, I know I want to be part of the process that brings about the most peace on Earth. There are a lot of different responsibilities that I also have to take in consideration, like caring for my wife and pup but I think by maybe abandoning the race to make as much money as possible or even the honourable mission of enjoying the work we do will have profound results. By making our mission to bring peace and love to others will provide us, in the most inconveniently selfish way, some sort of satisfaction with our lives.
These thoughts have always been deep within my soul and only recently I've been able to put words to them after reading a few books by people I admire such as Wendall Berry's "What are people for?" and Shane Claiborne's "Irresistible Revolution," and listening to countless podcasts on various offshoots of this topic. I'm still not sure what direction my life is going to take or if I even believe people have one or various things they are meant to do in life. Currently I'm still in a feeling of limbo but rather than having anxiety about it I feel peace because I have a clear desire to aid in bringing about more peace on earth.
The images below are a random collection of outings I went on throughout the winter. If you want any as prints just let me know! I'm thinking to donate any profit from print sale to organizations that are working towards improving our planet and people's lives.