I went back to my old university to attend a public lecture on codes and ciphers. Being back on campus always makes me nostalgic. I spent some of the happiest times of my life there. It also brought to the fore a bit of turmoil I had been feeling.
The other night, a rare late November thunderstorm blasted through. They were even warning us about potential tornadoes. I sat in my living room, listening to the wind and the rain, and thought about my life. It seems to me that my life has become a series of obligations I have to fulfill. Some days I do better than others. Some days I wonder why I even bothered getting out of bed at all.
As I walked through the campus, that feeling of ennui filled me again. I had such high hopes when I came to that university. I had great dreams, none of which (other than getting married) have come true. I’m not a famous writer, I don’t have a big house, and, as of yet, I have no children. I work a thankless job where I spend most of my time being bored out of my mind; I struggle with a novel that seems to not want to be written; and my family only seems to exist to bring me more unwanted drama.
After the lecture, I ran into my old religions professor. I took only one class with him but I think that class helped to free my mind up for my later conversion to Catholicism. And he taught me how to not to be afraid to question. This professor has always been very open about his own journey, his own questions, and that helped me to not be so afraid of my own questions, my own journey.
We got to talking and slowly walked back to his office. I asked him about the school year and he asked about what I was doing. He has a very open quality about him, so it’s little wonder that students find themselves at his door, asking for advice. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when I began to share my own feelings of restlessness, boredom, and general discontent.
“I thought I’d be somewhere else,” I complained.
He shared that his wife felt the same at times, that she said it was easier for him because he had a career. But he pointed out that he didn’t exactly have a life full of surprises himself. Yes, things were different from year to year, but…
As we said our goodnights, he looked at me and said, “You never stop searching.”
That last sentence stuck with me as I took the back roads home. Twilight (or, dark-thirty, as the old timers call it) was settling on the land and I watched the scenery just as much as I watched the road, the professor’s parting words ringing in my head. I asked myself, “What would I do if I stopped searching, stopped yearning? Isn’t that the definition of stagnate?”
And I realized that maybe it isn’t so bad, to want something different, to long for better. I guess the real question is, what am I going to do about it? Do I just sit around and complain or do I put my foot down on a new road to a better life? Do I finish the novel, living with whatever ending gets chosen, and putting it out for the world to read? Or do I just whine about how I don’t have time, or how there isn’t an ending that “feels” right?
I suppose there just comes a time in everyone’s life where they stop talking and watching other people “do” and go live their lives. As the dark-thirty passed into real night and I drew close to him, it occurred to me that my time was knocking at my door. Would I answer?