Of course, there is pressure to make it make sense. To artificially solve tensions. Or to ignore them. To do whatever it takes to make a mark. To yield to the pressure to prioritise lofty aspirations regarding one’s legacy and posterity.
I’m beginning to understand that I’m rejecting those pressures. Or more accurately, I suppose, that my rejection is becoming more deliberate and concrete.
This isn’t to say that I’m immune to mid-life crisis. Not at all. In fact, I would describe it the other way: I think I’ve been in perpetual life crisis. I’ve said that as a joke. “Life Crisis” was even the witty name I came up with for a band I was a part of.
But as with many jokes, it worked as a mask to hide an unknown truth.
I’ve watched people approaching a different age – an age where mortality is even more real and inevitable — who treat legacy with a sense of desperation. It seems like as we cross from any stage to another, we’re in a constant last-ditch attempt at meaning.
Some of this crystallised within me when I was talking to a older gentleman with a gorgeous old car. The way his eyes sparkle whenever he speaks of it, there’s no secret that he loves that machine. He’s kept it, maintained it and meticulously restored it for nearly five decades. It’s a precious symbol of so much of his life, his most intimate and treasured relationships. But unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I believe the symbol unintentionally became the surrogate. This tragedy is repeated throughout history: the all-encompassing love of a thing overshadows all that the person thought it enabled or epitomised.
This is my fear: that I would ever invest my being into something that is ultimately trivial.
There is both internal and external pressure to abandon balance due to its apparent tendency to lead us – not to greatness, notoriety and a lasting legacy – but to mediocrity and corresponding historical obscurity.
What if living into all the tensions of all of our loves is the goal of being alive? What if it’s all about becoming aware of the double-binds, and the idols that we cling to, or over-abandon? As a Christian, and as you might be able to guess with the name of this website, I don’t believe that my life belongs to me. That includes my legacy.
One of the most difficult disciplines of my faith is to entrust meaning to an obstinately invisible deity.
Sure, I want it. I want validation from people that all my memories and desires are important, and count for something. But not nearly enough to pay what it costs for many of the people who’ve have earned it…or the innumerable forgotten faces along the way who lost their souls having never even gained their chosen world.
All things considered, it’s good to be reminded of that every once in a while.