(The following entry reflects on Steve Carter’s message “Be Steadfast and Immovable,” part one of the Steadfast series. If you missed it or would like a refresher of it, both the video and the transcript.
...You know what you’re gonna be thinking about? But I wish I would’ve showed up more for my friends and my family...
One book I read last year was The Defining Decade.
That’s noteworthy because, when I first read the title, what I thought that it would say was, “Use your twenties to ‘find yourself’ and ‘live life’ and ‘enjoy a good time’” and the lot. That is, “Let’s eat and let’s drink, for tomorrow we die.” Basically. And I knew I would be put out. I didn’t want somebody [else] telling me I had to wait until some late point in my life to find some meaning or some purpose or some groundedness.
So I refused to read the book... not even bothering to turn the thing around. Where it, you know, it clearly says, “Our ‘thirty-is-the-new-twenty’ culture tells us the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood.”
It took somebody, or several somebodies, saying, finally, “That book. I do not think it says what you think it says.” And they were right—it did not. But it’s this tiny voice amidst so many other ones (even as a best seller). And that is a classic dilemma, yeah? Wanting to believe the tiny, drowned out voice? Makes you feel mental.
In other words... take this. Near the end of a year that did, in fact, end recently (but not most recently), I had a conversation with a bloke about those New Year’s resolutions. And, already, I’d been thinking, realizing, I was feeling disconnected from the humans in my life. It made no sense to me, at the beginning—I still spent the time with them. I still engaged in many “deep” and “vulnerable” conversations. The detail, though, was that I only ever listened (and I have no inkling when that started, but it did). I considered it the greatest gift, the greatest affirmation of my person and my value, when another soul was vulnerable with me. But if I thought about reversing it... it felt too selfish—not a gift. And the logic seemed flawless inside of some recess of my brain. The spot of bother was, of course, it wasn’t working—one-way vulnerability was not resulting in me feeling connected. So I’d begun to wonder if it was the least bit possible I had the flawless logic wrong.
Begun to wonder, anyway. So what I said, in all its vagueness, was: “Oh, um, relational resolutions.”
And he said, “You know, to have a good time.”
...The best times I’ve had in my life have been in relationships.
But, okay, the worst times I’ve had in my life have been in relationships. And while I was cut up at hearing yet another affirmation of that message (same one that I’d thought the book would say—same one I was avoiding), if I’m honest, mine was not a resolution I could easily address and file away to gather dust in some “things I have definitively figured out in my life” cabinet. So that is still my resolution, I suppose. And this is the reminder that I need, I guess, consistently—that, at the end of life, or on the other side, what I would think is, I wish I had shown up more for my friends and my family.