Saturday, January 21, 2006

Explaining Myself...

Hello, my name is Sky. There is a conversation going on over at Aaron's blog between him, some of my friends, and me. You should probably check that out, including the comments, in order for this to make any sense.

Let me tell you about myself. When I was a kid I realized I was in a car with my family and other people who lived in close proximity to me. We were driving through a forest headed toward the peak of a mountain. When I came to a certain age my parents and the other people began to ask me where I wanted to go. Well, to the top of the mountain, I guess. Good, they said, because that's where this car is going.

For the most part our journey was a good one. I learned a lot about the road we were on, our destination, and others who had already arrived to the summit. We sang songs, played games, had meals together and basically lived life on the way to the top.

There were other cars in our caravan. Occasionally we would slow down and talk to them through our open windows. There were also cars we passed along the way who were going in the opposite direction. We were told their destination was not a good one and that we should always be yelling at them to turn around and go the same way we are going.

Of all the conversations we had, the one thing we never really talked about was the car we were in. It was good enough for those ahead of us, and it has brought us this far, so we never gave it a second thought. Until one day I noticed a group ahead of us getting out of their cars to talk to some people on the side of the road.

These people were different than any I'd ever met. Well, that's not entirely true. Some of them looked and talked a bit like the drivers of the cars heading down the hill. But they weren't headed down the hill. In fact, they said they were going the same way we were going and had, in fact, made it part of the way up by the same kind of vehicle we were in.

Some said the vehicle had hurt them and they just had to get out. Others said the vehicle just broke down too often and, as much as they tried, they just couldn't fix it. There were several, most who had only recently abandoned their cars, who were just downright angry at the vehicle and thought anyone who still chose to ride in them was just plain dumb and closed minded. But a few, some of the older and more calm ones, weren't angry. They knew the vehicle worked for some and that it was still necessary in picking up certain types of people along the way who would not make it up the mountain by any other means.

As I listened to them talk I realized I had a choice to make: Get out of the car or join this crazy looking group of people who talked funny, using words like "postmodern" and "deconstruction" and "community" and "story" to explain themselves, and who, for some reason, had a lot of holes in their jeans.

I chose to get out of the car. I also chose to cuss the car. Oh how I cussed. I'm not really sure why I did this. I think it was one of those psychological things where you create a lot of commotion and treat the people you are departing like they are evil , just to make it easier to leave. I now regret the way I acted because it was that car that got me to the point where I was. No telling what cliff I would have run off of had I not had that vehicle and the people in it.

When I got out I found out very quickly that this strange band of wayfarers was going to become my family and that I should try my hardest to become theirs.

The first thing I realized was that, although these people were walking up the mountain, they were doing so not on the path that was paved, but through trails in the forest. Some of those trails were overgrown with brush, but you could tell they were ancient trails, paved hundreds of years ago by long forgotten saints. Other times we had to beat down the path oursevles.

We saw others heading different directions and we really didn't know what to think about them. However we did know one thing-- That the forest was dangerous territory and we were all in this together. A lot of the times we told them about the way to the top. But, unlike in the vehicle, there were many times when the other people knew more about getting to the top than we did. When we suspected that, we were sure to listen to them. (My friends Ripcord and Aeon are among the many in different groups that I like to hang out with. We watch soccer and hang out in coffee shops.)

Of course we thought the top was the best destination. We believed pretty much the same about that as we did when we were in the car but, to be honest, we were a little more confused about what we thought about "the others" and the value of where they were headed. That's something we still talk about. But one thing is sure, we try not to get angry about those talks.

There are difficult things about traveling through the forest rather than on the road. People who drove the cars kept wanting us to define ourselves. We often resisted that. When we did define ourselve we would often talk about all the things we do that are different from when we were in the car. It was all about who we aren't, not who we are. When those in the vehicles tried to peg us we would get defensive and say "You can't categorize me!" We said that with a very angry voice.

Most of us have given up on our anger and remember fondly our lives in the cars. We recently have tried to be a little more deliberate about explainging ourselves. Surprisingly, there are some who are talking about us both in the media and in the vehicles, so it has taken more thoughtfulness in telling about our the path we have chosen.

We consider those still driving up the mountain our family and know our final destination is the same. I personally miss them and love the times I make it back to the road to talk to them. Occasionally I even get in the car and ride with them for a bit and talk about all our good times.

Some of the people in the cars are still angry at how bad I cussed the vehicles when I first left. They get defensive because they still think I see them as less than me. Some of them, in fact, have accused me of hijacking their car and ramming it into a tree. There are those of us who have done that, but not me. I just wanted out of the car.

I rarely use the those "postmodern" words like I used to. Can't say that I even think about it much anymore. I just know I'm out in the forest with my friends, working our way to the summit. Those words got us out of the car, but they don't occupy our time as much as they occupy the time of many in the car who are still upset with us. I wish sometimes they would lighten up, but I still love them.

There are a couple of things I know for sure. The King of the country we are heading toward is good and has been good in paving the way, both on the roads and off, to his territory. As strange as it sounds, I feel sometimes as if we are in that territory right now, even as we are heading toward it.

I know the people I'm traveling with are good people. I just had beer and laughs and tears with several of them. We love our King and we love each other. One of our tiny group recently ran ahead of us. I can't tell you how much it hurts that he is no longer walking beside us. But his leaving has made us all the more eager to reach the top of the mountain. This fellow traveler actually taught us how to travel, and we are forever grateful for it. He also taught us how to live and to love and to laugh, and we are trying our damnedest to do what he taught us, even with tears in our eyes.

I say all this so you will know who I am. I don't hate the vehicle, it's just not for me. As hard as it is for some to believe, I really do think the car has value and worth and, in some cases, is extremely necessary and vital. Just don't push the car on me.

Eventually our paths will meet up again and, when it does, we will all be running full tilt toward our King. In the meantime, I'll peak through the trees and tip my hat to you.

I can only hope you will do the same.

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