January 6, 2009 @ 9:28 pm by sean
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5
Endurance and apathy are not all together so different as to be obvious which is which in real time.
I was working alone today, per Tuesday usual. I was serving three lunch-time customers and not expecting much more. Then two people walked in the door and I finished serving the three, but by the time I finished another group of what looked like ten people walked in. Turns out it was only eight. Some time ago, not sure when it changed, I would have kinda panicked. I typically only lose my cool only when I shouldn’t – for things that don’t matter; but for times when losing my cool doesn’t help anything I can usually handle it. This time, I didn’t have an ounce of concern. Ok, maybe a few. But all these people walking in, clearly ordering sandwiches – ten people X about five minutes per sandwich = almost an hour. Clearly they were not willing to wait that long. I’ve gotten this job down enough that it wouldn’t take nearly that long, but they were going to have to wait. So I calmly took all their orders, called Kelsey who lives down the road and asked her to come in, and got about halfway done by the time she got there. And two more sandwich orders came in while she was on her way.
I had no idea from the start it would go so smoothly and they’d all be so patient. That didn’t matter. I’ve just stopped reacting. A few months ago I ran out of gas for the second time ever, though my gas guage suggested I could have at least made it to the next station, if not home and then to a station. I immediately accepted it, and figured something out, by way of Brandon Estrada who lived close to my stranded location to come rescue me. Car problems don’t even faze me anymore. I got an oil change last week which led to a $550 recommended repair. And that one got me a little nervous. Especially since I knew I already couldn’t afford the bills I had, and especially because I could do it myself for less than $100, except it needed to get done ASAP (which the mechanic who did end up fixing it for a total cost of $270 said I might not’ve made it another day) but couldn’t get to the library that was closed for New Year’s to get the Haynes manual to fix myself. The café seems to be doing worse every day and, in my mind, could close any day, but I just keep on keeping on. (That’s a Pastor Edmond’s phrase. “you just gotta keep on keepin’ on.” But he also says, “If you stay where you are, you’re gonna get what you’ve got.” Another fine line.) I was alone New Year’s Eve and it didn’t even phase me. Well, it was only kind of alone. My car was to be fixed New Year’s Day by a guy Michael Smith knows out in Stillman Valley where he lives, so I drove out there New Year’s Eve. By the time I got to their place around 10 Jen was already sleeping in preparation for work at 6 the next morning. Michael stayed up with me until about 11:45 before joining his bride. So I sat there reading like every other time I stay the night there, not quite able to retire as early as they are wont to do. Christmas was wonderful and brought more joy than in a while, but I seemed to have no sense of the traditional “Christmas spirit.” It was just like going home to go home.
I’m sure there are other examples.
I just don’t know if I now possess some kind of endurance and carefreeness that has generally been authentically lacking the last 24 years or so, or if I’m just apathetic. Considering the first 23 years, the last year and half would fall under the realm of “suffering.” Certainly not as much as other people. I am still a white American male with middle class suburban roots, after all. This second job that has kind of started, but will start more tomorrow, I anticipate being incredible. But only in words. Perhaps when I actually start designing tomorrow I will realize how passionate I am, but for now I’m just blown away by the unbelievable opportunity. But blown away in a really equanimous way. I was never convinced Stoicism was the greatest way to live, but I seem to be allowing myself to go down a similar path by reaction to circumstance. Or perhaps non-reaction. Stoicism appears to involve significantly more than not getting excited about excite-worthy things – whether positively or negatively.
So I’m just in the middle. Living on Gray Street. Unpassionately fighting being non-passionate. There is more to that verse. Character and hope. I’m not sure I have either of those yet. And maybe that is what defines it.
I just discovered NPR: Live Concerts from All Songs Considered podcast. I’m listening to a Mogwai concert right now. Listened to a Radiohead concert earlier. This is glorious.
The modern age of “discovery” seems generally restricted to websites. Which obviously have been “discovered” many times over. I move that the only way to certifiably “discover” something on the internet is to be the actual first person. I’m feeling inspired to go finish that Smithsonian magazine from last month, with some real discoveries in there.