Thursday, August 7, 2008

Call and Response

There is an edginess about this photo that appeals to me today. Change is in the air: the long days of summer are getting shorter, the hot sun that has been baking us all week has disappeared behind a thick layer of clouds, and I found it very challenging to stay focused this morning.

There's something about the sweep of the clouds in this photograph... or perhaps it's the way the bench sits right at the edge of the picture? But even though it's really the focus of the scene, I can't seem to stay with it.

I'm restless, I want to leave the bench (which, being metal and bathed in sunlight, looks awfully hot and uncomfortable) and go explore the beach, or at least get behind the trees. It's at times like this that I find it most difficult not to be overcome by my "shoulds." I SHOULD sit. I SHOULD focus. I SHOULD stay on task.

Although perhaps it's the other side of those statements that really causes trouble: because I'm restless, because I'm unfocused, because I don't seem to want to do the things that were on my list for today I am somehow a bad person. It's very hard to give myself permission to walk away from that bench, though the fact is that the time I spend there is supremely unproductive.

But what if something wonderful is waiting on that beach, or behind those trees? And what if I completely miss it because I'm so busy doing what I think I should be doing? Maybe it's okay to be irresponsible once in a while.

I really, really don't want to be a typical me-generation thinker, in the "if it feels good, do it" mode. I've been hurt by others who've taken that path, and I think a lot of important work goes undone when everyone is off following their dreams and trying to find themselves.

But once in a while I suspect it does a soul good to step off the path for a minute, or to at least stop and listen to the voices that are calling you away. Whose voice is that, anyway? And why is it so alluring right now? What else is going on in life that makes the path seem tedious, or challenging?

Whether or not we follow the siren's call, it's good to be attentive to both call and response; we can learn a lot in the listening.

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