“An English degree and a dime,” Dad said, “will get you a cup of coffee.” A dime won’t get me a cup of coffee these days. Do something “practical.” How ’bout a marine biologist. And later, inspired by my auto shop teacher, I wanted to get my degree in industrial arts and teach. When I finally started college, it was like more high school—same-O, same-O. The English I liked. I did take psychology. It was good too. But I didn’t HAVE to attend class. I found my niche; I majored in lounge. My days consisted of hanging out in the student lounge and fraternizing. Occasionally I attended a class or two. English and psychology.
“Your problem is that you’re codependent,” her words jabbed at me one day. Recently, I read that codependent people just can’t be alone. They don’t have lives, but live lives other’s place on them. Or something like that. But I enjoy being alone. Sure, I enjoy being around other people. Hey, I like to talk. I’m getting old, right? Still, I like the quiet of no one around, water slapping the hull of a sailboat driven by the wind.
“You’re not much of a Christian,” she said. “You don’t behave the way a Christian should.” That got my attention. It started me thinking. How much longer must I base who I am on what other people think of me? Seriously.
“Your getting old,” she said to me once. “Old, weak, and flaccid.” Ouch! I rather think of it as growing up. It’s a slow process. I’ve always felt like I was still in my early twenties and enjoyed a certain irresponsibility. When I grow up, I’ll have to act like a grown up, right? Beside, I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. As far as the weak and . . . Hum. Maybe I’m just not interested in YOU! Though I’d never say that to a budding Mrs. Bobbit. Perhaps that explains why often lately I find that I am having difficulty sleeping at night; though during the morning, alone at my desk, I have difficulty staying awake. Maybe that’s why I’m so moody! A bloody moody old man?
I love my Dad. And he loved me. But maybe he was wrong. Maybe he inadvertently set me up to not value myself, not try to go my own way. Following others, discounting myself, hasn’t made life easier, better, or in any way fulfilling. On the contrary, it’s made if more difficult. Okay, so life isn’t like walking into Burger King to Have It My Way. But I should have followed my heart. Proverbs 3:5 tells us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Perhaps living life to the fullest, living an abundant life, means listening to what G-d puts into my heart and acting upon it. Better to learn late, than to never learn at all. I may be a moody, difficult, almost-old man, but I ain’t done yet. At least that’s what I’m hearing my heart say.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)