I’m currently in a season of life that is largely academic, and therefore (given my position as a senior undergrad soon to have her B.A. in English lit) is also largely literary, analytical, theoretical, philosophical, reflective, and, in case you haven’t already guessed, overly verbose. The environment that I frequently find myself in these days is stimulating. In the classroom I am challenged by invested professors who have spent years exercising their minds and researching intriguing and significant ideas, I encounter other great minds in my readings, and I am blessed to be in a place where many of my peers are extremely intelligent, passionate individuals that I have the privilege of conversing, eating, and living with. On a daily basis I encounter more things to read, and to contemplate, and to aspire to, and to become…and, glory be!, I am finally starting to understand something in college which I couldn’t possibly in highschool (during which I spent the majority of my time frustrated and bored); and that is that there is something profound in my dad’s adage that “education is the key to the doors of opportunity.”
I have been hearing this from the womb. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my father whispered this over the course of several months to my mom’s swelling belly, repeating the phrase numerous times as his eldest was slowing approaching her official entrance into the world. He’s always, of course, wanted good things for his kids, and coming from a household headed by a highschool history teacher, and where education is esteemed of more worth than much gold, not going to college was not really an option. And for that I’m extremely grateful; I’m not sure at all that I would’ve gone to college if it weren’t for my dad and mom, and I think I would’ve missed out on a lot. At the same time, I don’t think this saying of my dad’s is the complete picture (nor do I think that he thinks that), or, at least, it can be taken in a misleading way…and given the connotations the word “education” too often carries with it in our society, I think that “learning” may be a better word to substitute for it..But! I’m tangenting. (It’s ok: it’s a blog. I plan on doing that a lot.) But to get back to the original impetus driving this post for now…
I was going to say that there is a drawback to this kind of environment, the intensely academic and learning culture one that I seem to find myself immersed in (or perhaps just dipping in!), despite its simultaneous features that I think are of potentially immense worth. There are actually more than one dangers or drawbacks, just to be overly analytical like the student that I am, to this environment, but I am just going to go with this particular one for now. (Who knows-maybe more later? Wouldn’t surprise me.) That drawback is the temptation to over think the meaning of life.
“Whoa!!! She’s going oober-philosophical on us now, pulling out the ridiculously age-old question on the meaning of life! Hasn’t this been discussed enough??!,” some of you may now be thinking-if anyone’s actually reading this, that is. (Hi mom 🙂 “Does she think she can actually have something valuable to contribute to that ancient conversation, the topic of which has baffled and stumped and haunted countless people throughout the world, most, if not all, much wiser and more learned than her??”…As my twelve-year-old sister would so candidly put it: “Seriously?”
Well, the answer to those two imagined questions are yes, and (hopefully not presumptuously) yes! As to the first question, or set of questions, I already warned you that a drawback of my current life was the temptation to over think/over talk things. (Well, my mother would tell you that’s not a new temptation with me, but that’s another tangent that I’m not going to indulge further at the moment.)
And as to the second, I’d like to share with you five simple words, not my own, that I just came across again this afternoon as I was vaguely continuing the internal discourse with myself about how one should live life, and the purpose in it, and what that purpose should be, etc. It probably won’t come as a surprise that such thoughts can be exhausting and even distressing at times, especially the longer the time that they are entertained is prolonged. SO: just in case you (poor soul) have ever had a similar internal conflict and ongoing thought pattern as the one I’ve just described, or have ever snagged on this question, what kind of life is worth living?, even just slightly, just in passing, these words are for you as much as they are for me:
Live a life of love.
Now, before you write me off as a hopeless romantic (which I well may be guilty of, although I much prefer the term “hopeFULL romantic,” as one of my wise roommates put it just last night), or a throwback hippie who has “all we need is love” for a quaint but nieve mantra to life, indulge me by reading these five words again in their original context.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Thanks to another one of my lovely roommates for sticking this above the toilet paper in our bathroom.)
Instructors of the liberal arts are fond of citing Socrates’ assertion that “An unexamined life is not worth living,” as well they should! In many ways, I think this statement offers some important insights that should not be overlooked, by college students or those pursuing other avenues of learning and living. But I would go further, and emphatically assert that “a love-less life is not worth living”…or, for the hopefull romantics among us, that “a love-full life is unspeakably, inestimably, uncontradictorally worth living“…despite the raspy, imperfect tapping used to try to convey that.
And while I’m most likely not done examining the question of what makes life worthwhile in general, and similar questions concerning my life in particular, today, this simple five-word phrase, “live a life of love” (which, now that I’m thinking of it, should probably be expanded to seven to include “as Christ…”) is music, soothing to my soul.
May it continue to be that, and much more, for as long as my life continues.
(Mom, if you’re reading this, aren’t you glad it’s coming in a written form this time so that you can take breaks if necessary?? Thanks for all your years of listening…maybe I’ll re-post this on mother’s day in honor of you 😉
Well, I think I’m finally all “talked-out” for now! (“Thank you, Lisabeta Ivanovna; now I can go home in peace. I am expressed.”-Tonio in “Tonio Kröger” by Thomas Mann).