A scene that gives the name to one of my all time favorite movies: Melvin Udall, a man enslaved by his inability to experience human touch and interaction leaves his therapist's office in a fit of rage. In the waiting room he discovers others waiting to be rid of their demons and ailments that keep their lives from being healthy and satisfying. He asks a question that causes some to gasp in fear at the possible answer-- What if this is as good as it gets?
Tonight I found myself in a room full of people. A few I knew, many I didn't. We were celebrating Nathan's successful completion of his Ph.D. My blood was sufficiently saturated with Dr. Duncan's homebrew and as I sat down I looked around in that perfect counterintuitive balance of buzzed trance and clarity of thought. I saw Josh talking to Grant and Desiree while Britt played with an almost two year old Roy with water bottles. Others mingled, laughing and telling stories.
And then somehow Melvin Udall's question invaded my attention. What if this is as good as it gets? Such a question requires a quick assessment of things.
I'm working a lot at a job I've been at for what seems like an eternity. Things aren't bad there. My personal expectations were lowered enough in 2007 to make anything seem bearable.
Inertia, a need to feel and breathe something new, or perhaps (hopefully) God himself has led me to seminary. I'm reading great things, beginning the beginnings of new friendships, and in small ways remembering what it's like to feel vital again.
There are people I've lost. Neglect, distance, and even death itself have all, in equal measure, removed me from those who once provided a frame for my being, a reason to laugh and to think about tomorrow.
Yet there are others very near that I cling tightly to , as if my life were at stake. They know who they are. These people get me. In our absences they think about me, and I think about them. They are who I naturally move toward.
Roy was laughing, and you could tell it was hurting him as he ever so slightly assuaged the pain by bouncing to the music. U2's City of Blinding Lights was on the stereo. "The more you see the less you know/ The less you find out as you go./ I knew much more then/ Than I do now." And this is true. I know much less than I used to know.
But I know enough. I know enough to believe this isn't as good as it gets. My faith in God setting all this right, making the crooked paths straight, doesn't allow me to assume this is the best there is. But for now, it will do. The smiles and the laughs and the goodbyes and the planning for tomorrow are nothing more than the intersection of this time where good enough has to be good enough and that time, where things will be more than just good enough.