My articles are getting longer. I notice it too. So I’ve divided this into three parts. Maybe I’m becoming too ambitious with my writing. Maybe I have more to say. Maybe it’s treatment, what a friend called my catharsis, for tiring work days. Maybe I’m hoping that somehow this gives a better contribution to make up for the tactless things I say.
Nights Are A Good Time To Remember
The past few nights, instead of sticking to this month’s reading list, which include a book on Lorenzo de Medici, Islands in the Stream by Hemmingway, a book on Bear Stearns’ financial collapse, Basho’s haikus, and the highly uncharacteristic (for me at least) Seven Levels of Intimacy, I decided to read through my old journals, mostly contained in oilcloth covered Moleskines.
These Chatwin-inspired notebooks may not be the most practical of purchases but they do have their appeal. For one, they have pockets, which are useful for notes, really old but really good letters, for filing old Post-its, and, according to their marketing, they were used by the likes of Picasso, Mattise, and Hemmingway – even though the brand itself was registered in 1996. Picasso died in the 1970s and Hemmingway in the 60s. You connect the dots. Another thing I like about them, and this is why I choose to be gullible, is how nice the uniform little black books look lined-up on my shelf.
But what really make my Moleskines special (special to me at least) are the lines that form the letters and numbers, and drawings, and words, and phrases, and sentences, and paragraphs of events, reminders, and plans, and emotions, and thoughts, and hopes, and prayers that all combine into one big story – the story of my life.
We All Have This In Common: We’re All Different
Much like everyone else’s life story, mine does not fall under one genre. It’s a little adventure, a little mystery, a little horror, a little comedy, a little romance in 1 or 2 quarter segments, a little drama, and even science fiction. Sometimes I forget how amazing my life has been, and envy the experiences, the opportunities, and the resources of others, and when I feel this way I take one of my Moleskines and remind myself of the treasure I enjoy each day. See, the problem with trying to live someone else’s life is that we will fail in two ways: to be fulfilled in a life not meant for us, and to miss the fulfillment in the life we should be living – our own.
The next three offerings are, as I said, divided into three parts: The Beautiful Interruptions, The Beautiful Strangers, and The Beautiful End. I wrote them basically as reminders to value everything in every moment, especially the people, who make these moments, come alive.
The Beautiful Interruptions
One of the things I particularly don’t like about our educational system is that it expects everyone to mature at roughly the same pace. It seems to presume that when you’re a certain age you’re supposed to have a certain level of learning and able to join a certain grade. But people don’t grow, or mature, or learn at the same pace. Not so much because some are smarter than the others but really more because people live different lives, and are exposed to different things at different times leading to different experiences and different learning.
To put it succinctly, the problem with a rigidly programmed educational system is that many times it fails to prepare us for the unplanned and the unexpected.
Reading through my journals made me realize that very little of my life has gone according to plan. Investments that never materialized, business turned sour, my MBA in Spain stunted right after a great interview, relationships strained, paused, or completely ruined, broken limbs and scar-leaving stitches, a suicide bombing, lost luggage, and quite a number of planes and trains missed, I have to say a lot has not gone according to plan.
And that isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes God has to interrupt our plans to make way for something better, to make way for Him. Sometimes I cringe at the thought of what my life would be like today if my plan had pushed through. Maybe it would even be over.
There’s one incident that really underscored this for me. It happened years ago on my only visit to Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a beautiful country with beautiful people of amazing strength. I would definitely encourage anyone who knows they are called there to not hesitate and go. That year was 2004, I was 20 years old, and was sporting the most pathetic looking facial hair in the land-locked nation. I was with a long time friend who used to work for the family but decided to go on a series of mission trips. In Aghanistan, while shopping in a popular area, he reminded me that we had a meeting to go to. I corrected him saying that we had a few hours, but he insisted we left. So we left, and arrived at an empty safe house, a few hours early for the planned meeting. I was a little annoyed at him for getting the facts wrong, but the annoyance quickly disappeared as we watched the breaking news on TV. A few minutes after we left, on the street where we were, a suicide bomber had done his thing and taken the lives of a few people. Things didn’t go according to my plan, but I’m glad it didn’t. I’m very happy to be alive today. Besides, there’s a time for everything. The next day we went back to finish our shopping, knowing that a suicide bomber gets to strike only once.
Over the years my friend and I have gotten closer, and I stood as one of two best men on his wedding day, and now am godfather to his son blessed with the amazing name, David.
I try to remind myself, when things go wrong, or are delayed, or are blown away, to be grateful for the beautiful interruptions, knowing that everything happens for a purpose. Maybe it’s to teach us a lesson. Maybe it is patience we need to learn. Maybe it’s to protect us, from ourselves, our own plans, or someone else’. Maybe it’s to teach us to appreciate when we finally have something or someone. Maybe it’s to keep us somewhere long enough so that we won’t miss the sunset. Maybe He wants to remind us of how it feels like to be blessed by the rain. Even, maybe, it’s to prolong the suffering so we’ll know how to comfort those in pain. Whatever it is, there’s a reason, and while I hate to use this corny line (I really really do), that reason is you.