The other night, we were driving and my seven-year-old was in the backseat, lost in her imagination. She was staring into her luminous window-reflection and my own childhood memories told me that she was delighted with the way her eyes shone and that she felt beautiful. I wondered when I last felt beautiful that way.
I watched her eyes gleam again and her chest puff on her birthday when she announced that she was seven and I remembered the delicious taste of a new age on my own tongue when I was a kid. But on my birthday this past week I hardly stopped to consider how old I was and felt instead a vague sense of melancholy at thoughts of things I haven’t yet accomplished.
The psalmist knew that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and he praised God for it. He acknowledged the miracle that is the human body and mind, despite our many shortcomings. I don’t find that miracle often enough – in the mirror or in the faces of those around me. When I do stop to appreciate it, the limitations I place on myself seem trivial. So here’s to a year filled with the kind of awe and wonder that break down cynicism and invite God to work through me.
I have a question for you. While it isn’t directly spiritual, it is weighing on me in the same way that spiritual matters do (and I apologize in advance for the rambling nature of this post!).
Do you ever find that you enjoy the idea of something or the anticipation of it more than the actual thing? Just as an example, I love the idea of writing. I love the idea of a beautiful pen and the sound it makes moving over a rough piece of paper. I love the way the ink looks and all the related smells. I even love the idea of typing – the raspy click sound, the feel and the way my fingers look whether hesitating or moving assuredly over the keys. But somehow, when I’m actually writing, I forget to take that fullness from the experience.
Why do we romanticize things the way we do? Or why does fulfillment of our goals not lead to similar fulfillment of our souls? I can’t help but feel sometimes that desire is an almost useless evolutionary leftover. Almost. I can understand it as a survival instinct. It motivates us to go on. But as our lives become more complex and the things we need are more easily obtained, is it possible our desires become more trivial? Particularly in a country that enjoys so much excess. Today we don’t need to focus our desire on food, because it is so easily procured. More food than we could ever hope to eat is shrink wrapped and waiting in a cavernous store five minutes from everywhere. Instead of warmth, we might desire a carved headboard and a down comforter. I’m not saying this is necessarily wrong. I think beauty and innovation can be truly wonderful things – but I, at least, have a hard time enjoying life to the fullest. I seek God and think ultimate fulfillment comes from God, but in the meantime – has anyone grappled with this problem and come to any kind of conclusion? Thanks for reading!