One of my big struggles in life is the pull to be a lock, stock, and barrel member of my generation. Which is to say, a full-out cynical, anti-authority, anti-institution, I-think-I’m-specialer-than-everyone-else-in-the-universe card carrying member of Generation Y. Which is a topic I’ve posted on before.
I’ve recently discovered Mumford and Sons (yes, I know I’m way behind there) and their song “Hopeless Wanderer”. It’s a pull I feel all. the. time. I’m constantly marked by “a clouded mind and a heavy heart”. It’s like a plague. Because as “I’ve wrestled long with my youth” I find that the answers seem so far away and everything feels so uncertain. My wife and I were just talking about all the questions we used to have about everything–about God and life and mystery and hope. But we used to believe that every question had a findable answer, so we never stopped coming up with new questions. These days I’m so jaded that I don’t even want to ask a question because I’m pretty sure it will lead to that same dead-end “I don’t know” that becomes the answer to everything.
A “hopeless wanderer” if there ever was one.
I resonate with two particular parts beyond that, two parts that want so badly to dig out of this hopelessness. “How I long to grow old!” Maybe when I finally grow up (when does that happen anyway?) I’ll finally settle again into that conviction that most older folks I know seem to have. But more directly, “I will learn to love the skies I’m under.” Not as if I will ever be truly happy with this broken world, but I’ll love it in it’s disarray because it was made by God. And right now, I don’t. I feel hopeless far more than hopeful. But, oh God, change that in my heart!
(Note: I hesitate to post this video because they filled in four comedians for the band and it’s way funny to watch, in contradiction to the not-so-funniness of the song itself. So maybe listen the first time to just hear the song, then give it a second pass and watch to giggle at the silliness of those guys.)
I came across this article the other day about 10 paradoxical traits of creative people. I can never decide if I’m creative or not, so I gave it a read. Guess what I found out? I am creative.
And so is everyone else.
According to the teaser:
Creative people are humble and proud. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. Creative people are rebellious and conservative.
Well, thank you. You just described almost every person I’ve ever known. And the whole article runs that way. One comment compared the descriptions to a horoscope: so generic and sweeping that it applies to everyone.
Much like my post about Generation Y yuppies, I see the seeds of desire for specialness in this. Who doesn’t want to be creative? Read this and feel like you are! You’re special!
But it’s empty. Grand promises and sweeping generalizations don’t make for truth. They feed our pride and tell us we really are as great as we think. But perhaps we’re simply average. Or maybe below average. Where’s the article “Ten Traits of Average People” that describes most of the population? That would probably be depressing to read. And sad. Who needs reality, anyway?
I write with cynicism because this pride courses through my veins. I yearn for specialness. I long to be known and praised and admired. I want to be creative and imaginative and just a notch above others. So reading stuff like this just ticks me off.
Really, I’m just looking for the day when I finally learn contentment with being the rather ordinary creature that I am, but absolutely unique because there’s no one exactly like me, incredibly valuable because I was made in God’s image, and unfathomably loved because Jesus gave himself for me. If I can really believe that, what other kind of “special” do I really need?
Or more accurately a GYPSY. This article (warning: contains some mildly offensive language) does a pretty bang-up job of hitting the heart of my generation’s ongoing angst and cynicism. And when I say “my generation” (talking ’bout my geeeneration!), I definitely mean straight up “my”–because this nails my own low-level discontentment.
The fact is, I think I’m the bee’s knees. And I got tripped up in the article when the author said:
Even right now, the GYPSYs reading this are thinking, “Good point…but I actually am one of the few special ones”—and this is the problem.
What I find interesting is that the article links this discontentment to careers, as if that’s the main way that we build value and worth. I suppose for many that may be true. But that’s certainly not the only way people, even GYPSYs, find value. It might be in a creative pursuit. It might be in fame. Or success. Or religion. Or family.
For me, I see these same principles at work in my faith and in my family and in my friendships. Shoot, it’s even in my blogging. Since I feel like I’m so special, I’m yearning for everyone to see that specialness and just fawn over it. Ick, but true. Deeper down, there’s a yearning to see and find specialness everywhere–and a rejection of the mundane and ordinary. Yet mundane and ordinary are by definition the way things are most of the time. So why are they not good enough for me?
Deep down, I know there must be something better. And there is–it’s just not here yet. The glorious day when perfect and ordinary meet is the day Jesus comes back. That’s what we’re all waiting for, whether we realize it or not. It’s just that we channel that desire into our work or play or family or self-image or whatever. We try to make perfection instead of finding perfection in the Perfect Lamb. Not that I think that’s easy (that’s why faith is a fight), but it’s still right. And good.