What Did I Come In Here For?

The sky is raining again.  I knew it would.

Funny.  I’m not unhappy about it.  Usually, around this time of year, I start to get a little more moody.  The time change last weekend means that I have almost no free time during daylight hours, so I live my life under lights, instead of out in the sunshine.  Add to that mix the shorter days, along with a little adverse weather, and most of the ingredients for depression have been tossed into the mixing bowl of life.

I usually dive in without a second thought.

But, in much the same manner as I abstained from the chocolate-chip brownies as they were passed around the table after supper tonight, I think the proper answer this time is, “No thanks.  I’ve had enough.”

Those of you who read my last post may not have been impressed with the sagacity of my biking friend, who made me change gears, so to speak, in my thought processes.  But, his wise words are making me rethink much of how I approach the less joyful events which happen in all of our lives.

The simple words, “You’ll get there when you get there,” have led to a few more questions on my part.  I asked a couple of them to another friend as we talked today while I worked on a project at the music store.

“Why do we let the events we are involved in change our resolve and intent?”

He looked at me blankly, wondering if it was the lead-in to another joke to be groaned at.  Then, seeing that I was serious, he played along, realizing that it was futile to try to change the subject.

“What do you mean?”

I mentioned another of my friends who is a biking enthusiast.  Unlike me, this other friend has not jumped into his hobby with all the gusto of a miser being told that he must pay to air up his tires at the corner gas station.  No.  This friend has opened his wallet again and again, to the tune of thousands of dollars, all to avoid the very thing that drew him to the pastime in the first place.

You see, most of us who ride do so to stay in good physical shape.  What happens to many is that, as we become more and more focused on the activity (and not the benefit), we look for ways to eliminate the physical exertion.  Thinner tires, lighter frames, more gears, less air drag–the list goes on and on.  Soon, we don’t even remember that we needed to get our heart rate up and climb those hills. We just want to talk about the latest and boldest way to remove any obstacles to ease.

We didn’t start out looking for ease.

We began our journey by seeking to better ourselves.

How did we lose sight of the goal so quickly?

I laughed today as the Lovely Lady walked behind the counter that holds our band instrument accessories and then just stood there looking around, not moving.

“What are you doing?”  I asked, a little confused by her actions, or lack thereof.

She shrugged.  “Oh, nothing.  I can’t really remember why I came over here.”  With that, she walked into her office and sat down to work at her computer.

Don’t laugh at her.  You’ve done it yourself.

That’s exactly what we do when we lose sight of our life goals, as well.  When we started down this road, we understood clearly what it was that we needed to accomplish.  Now weeks, months, years down the way, we have become distracted by the scenery.  We are fascinated with the equipment required for the journey.

Did I tell you recently that the journey was the important thing?  I think I may have done that.  I do not repent of my words.  There is joy in the journey.

What I failed to mention is that we must stay on the course to our destination.  Detours are dangerous.  Side errands become quests.  Short breaks turn into extended vacations.

Tonight, as I struggled with the very same project I was working on as I talked with my friend earlier, I almost dove into that mixing bowl of emotional distress again.  Nothing was working!  I removed the same pieces I had replaced three times already and walked away from my workbench in disgust.  But, as I did, in my head I heard the voice of a young boy who had wandered into my work area yesterday.

The precocious little imp had looked around him and then sighed.  Gazing up at me as he shook his head, he said, half scolding, half sympathetically, “You sure have a lot of jobs that you haven’t finished here.”

Tonight, with that little voice echoing in the empty places in my head, I turned back to my workbench and persevered on the project, replacing the parts yet again.  When I went home a little later, the Lovely Lady looked at me, expecting to see the storm clouds still hovering about my head.  When she saw no evidence of them, she wondered aloud how I had fared.

“I’m not done, but I can see the end from here,” were my words.

How about it?  As you look ahead, along that road still to be traveled, do you see the goal clearly?  Maybe you’ll need to get back to the main road before that happens.  Perhaps, you’ll even need to get a fresh start after an extended leave of absence.

Don’t let the delays deter you from making the journey at all.  The storms ahead can’t keep you from going on through to the end.  We dare not allow equipment malfunctions to turn our focus from the task our hand has been put to.

The rain is still falling as I bring this to a close.  It is a reminder that the distractions will always be there.

So will the task before us.  I know what I have to do.

Are you coming with?

“I don’t have a short attention span.  I just–Oh look!  A squirrel!”

“Short cuts make long delays.”
(from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien ~ British educator/author ~ 1892-1973)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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