What is it about time that causes dilution?
I remember my first professional position after I had graduated from college. I wore a tie to work every day, because I felt as though I had went to school for four years to earn that privilege (okay, so I grew out of the tie thing…). I remember the excitement that going to the office every morning held for me then, the challenge that accompanied every day. The excitement and newness of the whole thing created a strong impression in my mind. I remember the drive home passing a baseball field in the summer, and sliding into the parking lot in the winter. I remember the friendships made with co-workers. Inevitably, I remember moving forward.
Eventually, I moved to a corner office. I specialized a bit. I took on extra responsibilities, and ultimately moved to a different division with more exciting work. That move involved switching offices. Ultimately, I look back to recognize that as a catalyst that led to my owning my faith, but that’s a series of events for another post. I remember when I would occasionally return to my original office with the new position. Despite the excitement of the new job, I remember looking down the hallway in which my former corner office was located somewhat wistfully, remembering what it was like when it all first began.
During my college years, I had a similar experience with theatre. I passionately loved every second of every performance, regardless of how much stress was involved, until somewhere around my junior year, when the politics and repetitive pressure of the school came crashing in and I lost my love for it for a while, stepping away entirely for a few months, a victim to burnout. Yet, now, when I recall those first years, I remember them with all of the positivity and excitement that originally existed.
After grad school, I’ve found my faith to have suffered a similar loss. I remember the passion and excitement that filled me when I first owned my faith, first accepted it in full. I can look back over my seminary career and watch it progressively become less passionate as I pursued ministerial vocations for a short time, and more during my theological studies. It occurred to me tonight as I was catching up on some reading that I don’t feel the passion that I once did in my faith, even as recently as a few years ago. There’s so much junk to bog it down, so many politics, so many petty differences and theological mishmash, that I forget the peace that originally pervaded my life, even though it is still there if I stop to listen for it.
While that first job was a formative experience in my life, it was one of those things that you recognize is just necessary to move on from at some point. I rediscovered my passion for theatre years later, although in retrospect I didn’t really ever stop engaging in it. I do theatre for the same reason I write: I don’t know how to not do either one. My faith is just as intrinsic, and I am certain that the passion will return at some point, likely as I distance myself more from what is unimportant and focus more on what is important (assuming, of course, that I acquire the wisdom to differentiate the two).
I am in hopes that time’s ultimate effect is not to soften the passion that comes with new changes in life, nor to dilute the spark with cynicism as we discover the inevitable negative side to different elements of our life that were filled only with the perception of promise and no difficulty when we first embarked upon them. If time erodes our naivete, however, then I think it is not necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, I am in hopes that the effect is like aging on wine, and we emerge from our life endeavors with a better result because of the difficulties experienced in the middle. In short, I am clinging to a positive perspective on the benefits of realism vs. the callousness of pessimism that time tends to breed when we encounter the obstacles inherent in all of our life’s pursuits. I am staying hopeful that the entire rest of the journey won’t be fraught with the need for sheer willpower to replace energetic engagement in our faith, our art, our vocations.
Only time will tell.