The Long View

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I'm at the ass end of 40, a little less than a week before I hit the half cent mark, the [dreaded?] five oh. 5 decades, 50 years, half a many this is a long time and qualifies one as old [doggone young whippersnappers]. I have wasted a great deal of that time. Before you think, "what a lazy bastard," let me explain.

I wasted a good portion of my 20s following "a call" that probably wasn't what I thought it was. I was raised in a semi-strict Southern Baptist family, so going to church every Sunday along with Wednesday night Bible study was the norm. [The psychological pressure for young people to say the Sinner's prayer was immense. I digress.] After that decision to follow Jesus and graduating High School, I went to a private Baptist University, made new friends, many of them were ministry students. Now, I think you can see where this is going. So I talk to friends, professors and pastors and made a decision to answer "the call" into ministry. That decision lead me into "trying" to be a Southern Baptist minster of the licensed variety [I still have the paperwork somewhere...]. Youth ministry, preaching, pastoring, leading Bible studies and so on filled my days, but never consistently. I failed miserably. By the time I hit 30 I was divorced, lonely, and emotionally scarred.

I spent my 30s going to the other extreme of avoiding that previous "call." Some would say I overindulged. I ate too much. I drank too much. I developed a taste for beer and bourbon and rare steak. I did gain some things in that decade. I remarried and saw what unconditional love was in action [thanks to my wife]. I developed tastes and enjoyed them [again, thanks to my wife]. I found what my limits were. I also got an MA in philosophy and realized I was a decent woodworker. Not entirely wasted, but still pursuing the wrong things.

So at the dawn of my 40s I'm in a Ph.D program in Philosophy of Religion and Theology. The economy tanks. In a couple years I lose my job. I spiraled downward in an ever widening pit of fear and depression. Joblessness nearly cost me my life [really, depression is a fierce beast that must be dealt with]. In the big fat middle of that mess I started woodturning on a regular basis. In many ways, this saved my [mental] life. I realized what I needed to do: create and be a decent human being.

So yeah, I wasted some time, maybe my life up to now. But it wasn't laziness. It was fear of not pursuing my passion. If you have a passion, never ever let fear stop you. That fear, that blockage, that resistance is not your friend. It is an enemy, a stronghold, that must be overcome, often on a daily basis. [This fear also prevents you from being a decent human being but that's for another time.]

So in the long view I have come to understand a few things. Even if years, decades, or even half your life seems wasted, it is never too late to start something new. Sometimes, all it takes is a subtle [or not] shift in perspective to see the newness and possibility before you. And when you see those possibilities, pursue them with passion and relentless resolve. The way forward, for me at least, is to bring beauty into the world and to grow into a more graceful human being.