There are seasons of life that demand so much attention in particular areas that we lose sight of others. Finishing up four years of seminary has caused me to think about this a lot in recent months. I learned to survive working full time and studying at the graduate level by a selective focus that allowed me to ignore areas that seemed to difficult to initiate or to maintain. The routines that I developed in survival mode have become harder to shake than I would have thought. Reentry from graduate studies into the rest of my life is not automatic as it turns out. My last six months of seminary wore me down. It was all I could do to try to maintain a positive outlook on life. It seemed that several years of unbalanced living had caught up to me. Staring at the finish line awoke my senses to the rest of my life that was still there and needed to be addressed. In school mode I trained myself to focus on completing the next assignment, finishing the current class and making it through one quarter at a time.
A graduation is called a commencement, however, because it is only a beginning. Finishing a degree program is not meant to complete our pursuits but to ignite us to follow them with enligthened vigor. This overwhelmed me as I pondered how much of my life I had learned to tune out just to get by. Several months after graduating I found myself living the same life that I did as a student. I was staying up too late, working on too many projects at once, rushing from place to place, not taking care of myself and feeling increasingly disconnected from friends. The only thing that seemed to snap me out of my routine was traveling.
During the road trip that I took back in July to Northern California and Southern Oregon, I had to constantly remind myself to slow down and appreciate the moment. Although I thought this roadtrip had set me straight I found that within six weeks I was still stuck in the same rut so I bought the All You Can Jet pass from jetBlue to take a journey of reflection and rediscovery. Travel does not repair anything and it is not an end in itself but it is one of the few things that pulls me away from the daily thoughts and routines that weigh me down. It helps me to appreciate the beauty of the moments that I overlook at home.
Now that I am back I am trying to begin anew to understand what it means to live a good life post-graduation. This quest has caused me to begin reading a book called Wellbeing for which polls were taken all over the world to determine that the five essential components of wellbeing are career, social, financial, physical and community. The spiritual is what motivates many through each of these areas. We tend to focus on only one or a few of these at a time and as a result the areas that we let slip wear on us throughout our daily lives.
I resonate with this because I have experienced how much one or another area of my life can affect my perception of everything else. In my next post I will talk about which of these areas seems to impact me the most…