The human race is a very confusing species. We strive, we reproduce, and we exist, often confusing busyness with purpose. Life becomes a series of predictable steps, rather than the adventurous story we were meant to live.
For Americans, the standard path goes like this: preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, possibly graduate school, Monday – Friday desk job, marriage, three-bedroom house, two cars (one being a mini-van), 2.5 kids, soccer on the weekends, and 3 weeks of vacation a year to “escape” life.
Is that seriously what we were created for? Really?
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
These words by Tolkein resonate with me all too well. Although my journey has been far from clear, there seems to have been a story taking place around me, beyond my temporary sight.
Day jobs can be meaningful, but the majority of Americans are in careers they dislike, constant busyness that make no lasting impact on the world, and jobs that consume their daily life (often interfering with family life) in order to make money they don’t need. Why? We know why, don’t we?
Stuff. Comparison of junk. Grown-up toys with Beamer status symbols on chunks of metal that move us from one point to another…in order to remain busy with those jobs we dislike.
In the process of our busyness we are losing one of the most essential aspects of being human: the adventurous spirit. We were created with the ability to create, to imagine, to dream, and to love. In the midst of material chaos we have lost the adventure in the pursuit of comfort. Comparison has become more valuable than compassion. Self-love has replaced love for our neighbor.
The adventurous spirit has been killed so often in the pursuit of meaningless garbage parading as meaning, identity, and status. We have lost ourselves in the fake appearance of ourselves.
On the flip-side, we can also get lost in our so-called dreams, making them our identities rather than simply a part of the adventure.
I once knew an actor who spent the past 21 years pursuing an acting career, all while his personal life fell apart around him. Alcohol consumed him, a marriage dissolved, and his hopes were rooted in the identity that he was an actor. He wanted nothing more. He wasn’t a creative person who expressed himself as an actor; he was an actor.
That perspective will drive you crazy. Trust me, I know. What once was a noble dream eventually became an identity flaw, perpetuating insecurity, fear of rejection, and the absence of other dreams waiting to be imagined. Dreams can often be mistaken for our identity, but when that happens they are no longer dreams.
In a rather comical review of my acting pursuits, the odd reality is that I often sabotaged my own auditions with fear that I wouldn’t get the role. My identity was so enraptured with being an actor that I missed out on opportunities resulting from fear of losing my identity. It was absolutely frustrating in those moments, but looking back I now see it as complete folly.
Who am I, really? Am I not living in the adventure of life? Are we not created to pursue God, to create, to imagine, and to love? Are we simply machines working through life in busyness rather than purpose?
We were not created to simply exist; we were create to live.
The older I get, the more I am choosing to identify as my Daddy’s boy, not “actor”, “writer”, “salesman”, “husband”, or “aspiring creative”. I’m simply a human being, created in the image of the Creator and called to live in the adventure of faith, the reckless pursuit of truth, and a passionate love for the broken.
What are you living for? Are you living within the adventurous spirit, or have you settled into the misconception of identity being what you own, what you wear, and the title on your resume?
Seize the adventure. Don’t lose childlike wonder. Never simply exist.