This is going to be a jumbled mess, and for that I apologise ahead of time. There have been so many things rolling around in my head lately, and they all touch upon each other, but not in the same place. So, if I ramble, forgive me.
In exactly 50 days, I will be on an airplane. 20 years with my beloved, and I don’t care my job situation or anything else, darn it, such an occasion calls for watching the sun set in paradise. And so we will. But to get there, I have to fly. I hate to fly.
To understand what an understatement that is, you need to know that I was treated for pretty severe anxiety attacks during my 30’s. Although the root of the anxiety was ultimately misdiagnosed, it was nevertheless very real, and the medication got me through that time. It was, mentally, the weirdest time of my life, so far.
I freaked myself out during that time. I would walk under a bridge and be consumed by an uncontrollable fear that the bridge would collapse on top of me. I could not ride in a car with someone else driving. I constantly felt the ground beneath me would give way at any time, especially in elevators or upper floors of buildings. It was definitely no way to live. In fact, it was unbearable.
So, I don’t begrudge the misdiagnosis, the antidepressants, the wasted time. To make a long story short, what “cured” me was a better diet, regular exercise, and a bigger Jesus. My doctors recoiled in horror when I defiantly told them I was going off the meds (it’s a wonder they didn’t have me committed). But I did, and here we are ten years later; I may be a jerk sometimes, I may be moody. But fear no longer rules my life.
[Disclaimer: don’t try this at home, kiddies. I had a unique situation; my doctor was a strange cookie (he no longer practices medicine).]
Anyway, whenever I fly, my new-found attitude is put to a severe test. I am totally at the mercy of the pilots, the maintenance crew, the air traffic controllers, the man at the machine shop that made the rivet that sits above the left wing. But you know what? I can’t sit and think about these things for three hours. Nothing’s going to change, whether I worry or not. I must let go and trust everything’s going to be OK.
When you can get your mind to do that, especially my mind, it is extremely liberating.
After flying the first time, I had the zealotry of a new convert. I started looking for new ways to apply this philosophy of liberation. It soon spread like kudzu, and soon all of life was covered in blessed assurance. God, not the old, little impotent one but the real one, was bigger than anything I faced. In 2002, Lintilla and I applied that belief to our lives during the Year From Hell. It was hard, because there seemed to be no end to our suffering. We deep down wanted to grab hold of the reigns, to have a little control over the chaos that surrounded us. But we rode it out patiently, even with a sense of joy: God provided human angels to lift the burden from our backs. We let go, and let God. And boy howdy, did he!
I now realise that 90% of the crap we see in life is just, crap. No need to get all worked up about it. And most of the time when we are fearful, we just need to let go.
But when I watch the news, when I read the newspaper, when I read blogs, I see that most everything in life for most people is based on the need to have control when we are fearful. A school shooting? The if onlys start. If only guns were banned. If only one of the students had been carrying his own concealed weapon. Like Moses, we forget how big God is, and we try to hasten things, we try to get the situation under control, as if God could not handle the situation without our help.
I miss John F Kennedy. Yeah, he was a Democrat, what about it? What I miss is aspirational politics. I loathe the modern politics of fear. Nobody’s dreaming big dreams anymore; they haven’t in some time. Everybody’s hunkering down. All of politics is fear now: fear of illegal aliens, fear of rape, fear of the non-religious, fear of the religious, fear of terrorism, fear of anti-terrorism, fear of racism, fear of loss of entitlement, fear of the police, fear of the helplessness of police…on and on and on.
We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
I didn’t have to cut and paste that quote; I’ve committed it to memory because it makes my heart soar. And it makes me wonder: what has happened to us? Why are we now so fearful? Why do we as a people no longer bravely dare?
Can we get it back again?
Can we break the chains of our fear and carelessly dream big again? I hope so. One day, we will all see that the evil of the world is not big enough to prevail.
During the days of slavery, one particular evil, one of the smaller indignities of millions the slaves had to endure, was the food given to the slaves to eat. The slave owners would take the best cuts of meat for themselves, and leave the scraps for the slaves. It boggles the mind that Americans treated other people this way.
Yet, the slaves made the best of what they had. Through the generations, they perfected a method of cooking the scraps to make them more palatable.
And now, more than a century and a half later, you can go to Memphis and see white people lined up out the door, paying a premium price, just to get a taste of the meat that their ancestors had deemed not fit for a dog. And there are more than a few descendants of slaves taking their money.
God is a very, very, very big God. He is big enough that every evil is powerless against His ability to turn it to good.
I’d like America to be able to see that again. I’d like America to start approaching history as a plane flight. There are so many things that could go wrong. We must accept that there are things we cannot control. We must quit our fretting, and get on the plane despite our fears.
Paradise is waiting on the other side.