And I wonder where I’ll be in a year
Probably be sitting right here
And if you know the answer don’t tell me anyone
‘Cuz I don’t wanna know
--The Refreshments, “Don’t Wanna Know”
I’m not quite ready to start my gazillion-part series on religion in the Byzantine Empire. In truth, I have it whittled down to what seems to be an extremely manageable series of posts, but I haven’t entirely figured out how to pull it together yet. Besides, I feel like getting some thoughts out of the way, so I’ve decided to write one of those disjointed, fluffy posts in the hopes that everything in it will tie together by the end.
I think the best place to start is on my couch. And not just because that’s where I’m sitting right now.
Last week I was sitting on my couch talking to one of my best friends about life, women, and, well, women (seriously, what else is there to talk about?). All of the sudden the image of a dorm room in Lincoln Hall at Western Illinois University flashed through my mind and I started laughing. He seemed confused.
“Five years ago when we were sitting at Western talking about girls would you have believed we’d be sitting here doing this now?” I asked (or something similar).
He didn’t find it quite as funny as I did. Of course he hadn’t had quite the week I’d had…
What if we offered
All these broken hearted pieces to the sky
Would it be enough
To keep on living ‘til tomorrow comes
What if everything
Disappeared to gone and all that’s left
Is a circle in my hand
All that’s left is a circle in my hand
--Lost Immigrants, “Circle in My Hand”
I came to Dallas with a broken heart.
I came to Dallas convinced that I’d be leaving again as quickly as possible.
I came to Dallas convinced that no good could come out of the transition.
I was just here to do my job, make a few bucks, and get back to Chicago. Move along, nothing to see here. Of course I came down here with a single, pretty well set attitude about life: life is what happens while you’re waiting for life to happen.
Once I got done being pissed about everything I started to realize that, hey, I had a point. Funny how that works…
I was talking about weight loss today. Specifically I was talking about how no matter what you do to your body, it eventually adjusts. You can go on a crash diet and lose a bunch of weight, but eventually the body will realize what’s happened and the diet will stop being effective. You can start working out, but eventually the same old routine will stop being particularly effective.
The only way to keep moving forward is to keep changing things around.
I think that’s pretty much the way everything works in life. I had to change my life when I moved. And having to change has made all the difference.
Oddly enough, I think that it helps that I moved to a place I didn’t particularly want to live. If something bad happens in Dallas or something ends up sucking, well, that’s what I expected, anyway. But if something good happens it’s a surprise, it’s a delight. That’s expectation management at its finest.
I want you to be my love
I want you to be my love
'Neath the moon and the stars above
I want you to be my love
'Cause I want you
I know all you--
All you've been through
--Over the Rhine, “I Want You to Be My Love”
It’s impossible to make it to thirty without a certain amount of baggage. We live in a world of pain, of longing, of missed opportunity, of broken hearts and love gone bad. We’re all capable of immense cruelty and extreme thoughtlessness.
The question, then, isn’t where we’ve been, but what we’ve survived. The question isn’t about whether we can find someone who is perfect, but whether we can find someone who has figured out how to live with their imperfections, learn from their mistakes, and make it through life with an unbroken spirit. It’s about finding out whether you can make my life brighter, better, happier and can I do the same for you?
I used to think it was possible to find perfection. I used to think, as so many others I knew believed, that god had somehow preserved a single, perfect someone just for me. It’s an odd thought, that, when you consider that I knew that I was nothing if not imperfect.
I find that the farther my life trajectory takes me from Christianity the more I love Slacktivist and Over the Rhine. The words that I find in those places speak to a longing I don’t think I heard anywhere in the churches I attended. It’s a longing for a better world, but one where we make it better by putting in the work, not just by praying and expecting god to fix it all.
You can’t try to find perfection. You can’t expect to love in spite of imperfection.
The only real option is to love because of imperfection. A wise man once said, “Beauty is beauty in spite of perfection,” after all. Also, something about, “Better beautiful than perfect, anyway.”
I’ve also come to the conclusion that this wisdom needs to be applied to places as well as people.