Beneath the Grey Welkin

Sometimes, on those cold autumn and winter days beneath the grey welkin, I am touched by that quiet despair.  It seems to come hand-in-hand with those days.   This early in the fall it seems out of place, but I fear the day that I once again feel as if it were appropriate.  I have had many of those days, and I hope they never return.  They always do, but I always hope.

Today was a good day.  I am with my family.  It is odd how easily I categorize the parts of the day.  Those parts in which I was with my family were nice.  My mom and my sister and my grandmother had some fun times.  My brothers and I beat each other up in Smash Bros..  Then there were those parts in which I sat alone upstairs reading Tolkien.  It is Tolkien; it is good.   But then…those parts  in which I sat upstairs and wondered why I was at school.  Those parts in which I wondered if I should discontinue Honors next semester since I am probably going to graduate a semester early and am already one Colloquium behind and would not be able to catch up on two.  Those parts in which I wondered if going to Belhaven was not a terrible choice.  Those parts in which I briefly dared myself to think that this would be a good time to give up, since things are finally going decently well.  Those parts in which I convinced myself that I would  be better were I steeped in naïveté.  I don’t think I should be, of course, nor do I think this is actually a state I would enjoy.

Everyone seems to be plotting out their grad schools.  By “everyone”, of course, I mean a select and  small group of people.  Still, I can’t help but note these few.  I am not among them.  If all works out, I will graduate next December.  After that, I know nothing.  I am glad I know nothing, for the most part, because this means I only have nothing to worry about.  Nothing has provided me a great many hours of material to think over, of course, and will continue to do so.  But since my future is nothing, it is all I have.  There is no “grad school” in nothing.  There is the idea of writing, of course, but it is barely formed.  I have plans that extend up to that point and beyond, but I have spent so many of those formative teenage years lacking the desire to exist beyond that evening, much the less the next day or next year.  So, I don’t put stock in those plans except as very general guidelines and occasionally helpful tools.  I have desires that extend beyond then (for example, I would revel in steeping myself in Old English, Old Norse, and Old Icelandic language and literature) but I also have desires that end any plans rather early.  I feel like the best people I know make plans along the lines of “I will go to grad school and do [x].  If God decides that it is my time to die before then, I am content with that, though”.  Probably this is far more explicit than most, but I believe it is fair.  My thoughts follow the reverse: “Perhaps God will decide it is my time to go; if not, at least I will definitely not go to grad school”.  I enjoy school, I do.  I have a craving for knowledge that even this semester, the first semester in which I feel any consistent stress from my workload, cannot sate.  But, despite this, I don’t feel as if I belong in school.  If I knew I would drive myself to study the things I want to know without any motivation from my class requirements and the threat of less than a 4.0, I am not sure I would still be at Belhaven.  The pecuniary impediments it creates are nearly discouraging enough.  Anyway, that is beside the point (though, glancing back, I am not sure there really is one).

I will declare a point even if it was not the point prior:  I have no idea what is going on.  No doubt, this is the first time any college-aged man has faced this situation.  I realize it is a mite unusual, but such is the case.  I have no idea.  I love writing; I need to write; so I write.  I love reading; I need to read; so I read.  These two things, along with my faith,  are some of the only constants I cling to.  I don’t really want to “do something with my life” aside from these things.  I don’t want to make a living; I don’t want to support myself.  I don’t want to be known; I don’t want to be read.  (That is a lie; rather, I don’t need to be read.)   Were I to die this moment, there is not anything I would particularly regret unbearably.  The most prominent is, of course, my terribly deficient walk as a Christian.  This is, unfortunately, a battle in which I am fighting demons with fencing foils and satisfied with my own strength for victory.  Not surprisingly, I have gained no ground.

So, I am to go on living.  If I be not, I cannot know it, and so must not act as if that were the case.  But living should not simply be a waiting to die, right?  I fear I would be content to simply wait, because activity is rather hard.  I despair for it, at times.  In my pocket at this moment is a love letter from someone who I treasure.  That’s pretty cool, as Dr. Hubele might say.  There are a thousand books to be read.  A thousand stories to write.  A dozen European and Slavic countries to visit.  But I could not.  Oh, God, I could not.  But…I’ve already said I must assume I am to, and so what to do?   I don’t know.

Sometimes I want to give up because I don’t know.  I do now.  I am never able to convince my silly head that any of the things that could give me the drive not to simply “grin and bear it” actually matter in the grand scheme of things.  I still can’t.  Grad school doesn’t matter.  I don’t matter.  And then, the Holy Spirit (I hope) hastens to add, “But, of course, you do matter.  Christ died for you.   Do you think so little of one for whom the Son of God bled and died?”  I hang my head.  Often, yes, I do.  I try and try and pray and hope and beg and scream and cry and wish to die and never move, never change.  My spiritual life is a treadmill in which I have trudged through hundreds of miles without moving an inch.  Any progress I’ve made in my life has been rare and come about only because God dragged me, kicking and screaming, over somewhere else and set me down.  But when set down, I am sitting on yet another treadmill, and go nowhere.

I have been trying to come to terms with this for years.  I’ve been groping for sense in it, and have only seen in a dim glass.  I think until I do, though, I will never really be able to do the things I ought to be doing.  Lord, let me see.  And because its been my theme verse ever since I read it in Rex’s poem, I pray: Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  Say “come”, please.  And then give me a firm kick.

I digress.

  1. #1 by pilgrimvisions on October 18, 2010 - 6:57 am

    Many things you say here I see as a reflection of some of my own struggles, though you had the courage and talent to articulate them better than I could have. Don’t think that those of us in the process of trying to go to grad school have things figured out. It is still, to me, far more terrifying than it should be, and doubts frequently arise about how I would actually survive in the perceived coldness of the academic world. The future is still very dark and thick to me, and more than anything I long for the lamp of the Guide. Perhaps it will attend me when I truly need it. I hope so.

  2. #2 by salvageroost on November 6, 2010 - 11:29 pm

    This… resonates within. Excellent piece of expression. You have my prayers, as well…

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