Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I know I’ve already told you about the summer I spent selling books door-to-door in Cincinnati Ohio – one of the best and worst summers ever. But, what I didn’t tell you is that THAT summer was the first summer that I thought about the meaning of life; MY meaning of life. One morning I found myself walking on this remote, long, hilly, paved road lined with full, towering, dark green, almost-mystical looking trees. My mind raced between ‘spectacularly beautiful’ and ‘someone could kill me out here and no one would know’. I fell in love with that road and started walking it every morning; because no one wanted a book salesman to knock on their door at 8:00, right? Eventually, the pavement ended and I landed at a small baseball field a few miles out of town. I hung-out on the empty bleachers, almost daily, for hours. Sometimes I’d stretch out and sleep, often I’d write letters or pray the Rosary or talk out loud about what I thought was important. I named my first child on those bleachers…long before I met her daddy. I spent time with myself and questioned who I was and what I stood for; since I should have been knocking on doors instead of squandering my time on far away, empty baseball bleachers. I broke a lot of rules that summer, told some lies too, and began my journey to find out who I was meant to become.
I still think about that summer. I don’t remember much about the books I sold, or the area of town I worked in. I didn’t get to go to the zoo, or the stadium, or even a museum. I did sneak off to explore the waterfront and downtown one day, but other than that, I don’t remember very much about my time in Cincinnati; but I do remember almost ALL of the people I met. At that point in my life, I liked everyone and judged no one. I was comfortable in my skin, had nothing to prove, and believed everyone was good and trustworthy. I got pictures with businessmen, a street gang, a hot-dog vendor named Sam. I hopped on a boat with a bunch of strangers without a care in the world. I met an elderly couple who honestly changed my life, and I spent lots of time chatting with stay-at-home moms. I babysat neighbor’s kids, organized a few backyard kick-ball games, and built some awesome memories. And, I discovered that I liked talking and walking and thinking more than I liked selling books. That summer, I was where I needed to be, I just didn’t realize it then, but I know it now.
I’ve spent the better part of my 40s searching for my “passion”, feeling like there is more to life than what I’m experiencing. I’ve yearned for something to fulfill me, challenge me, and make me better. I’ve read books, measured myself against other’s ethics, tried to re-create myself so I could be happy and settled and satisfied. But, I am already created perfectly in the eyes of my God, and my work fills a need in the world, therefore, I am doing what I should be doing. It’s not about what I do anyway; MY meaning of life is about the people I meet; to embrace and nurture the relationships that occur while I’m doing what I do, because THAT is what I’ll remember anyway. I didn’t realize it before, but I know it now.