My good buddy and former roommate, Matt, sent me the following email. As you can see, he speaks well enough for himslef, and I haven’t much commentary. I realize he comes across pretty strongly at times, but keep in mind, as he does, that he’s attacking a type — the egregiously vain and egotistical tyrant of small things — more than a single person.
Just returned a couple days ago from two weeks in Brevard, North Carolina, where I co-chaperoned and solo-chaperoned 10 kids each week (boys the first, girls the second). Bet you can’t guess which group caused infinitely more stress and head-ache for me. Whilst there, I read _On the Road_, by Jack Kerouack (I actually have about 15 pages left) for the first time, the one with introduction by Ann Charters, and it was, quite literally, an eye-opening, life-changing experience for me. …
Anyway, while I was reading this book during the second week, I was also becoming further and further fed up with one girl in particular on the team who is a borderline narcissist. She is self-absorbed to the max, manipulative, ambivalent to any concerns but her own, and downright mean. She’s wealthy and indulged, and knows how to get what she wants. Well, not really from me. … I couldn’t care less if she is mad at me, and I know (and she knows) that she can do nothing to harm me in any way, so I ignore her a lot of the time, and flatly disregard or shoot down her selfish tantrums just as often. …
So one afternoon when we had some free time, I was in my room reading Kerouack, and then decided to vent some frustration in my journal, so that I wouldn’t vent it on this girl or the rest of the team by accident.
I poured out my exasperation about her attitude onto the page, and followed with some musings on how empty and pathetic the life of the totally spoiled and egocentric must really be. Here’s an excerpt:
“…They’re so bloated on their own egos, and they just keep shoveling it in. They’ll keep right on gorging themselves on the fawning attention of others, the compliments, the jealousy, the hatred. They don’t believe any of it, so they try to surround themselves with others even more pathetic so they can maintain the illusion; they pretend to fool themselves, but the mirage is so weak that it’s barely even translucent (as opposed to opaque, solid, real -MFP). Empty, pathetic, hollow shells filled with simple, angry, desperate little whisps of life.
That line really knocked my socks off, by the way.
I can’t imagine what it must be like to have such a sad life, totally bereft of meaning.”
And then I had a bit of an epiphany, as bits of _On the Road_ marinated in my mind, mixing with my disgust at the behavior and attitude of this girl. I was struck by the contrast between the lives of this girl and the character Dean Moriarty. She is spoiled, arrogant, bored, … while Dean is dirt poor, wild, carefree, and filled with wonder by anything and everything. And there it was in black and white, two extremes presented in stark contrast with one so clearly superior that it was the only one worth even considering. Here I’ll present another excerpt from my journal:
“I’m going back to church when I get back to Gainesville.
I had only an inkling you (Matt) were so thoroughly disaffected from church life. Thank God, welcome back!
Writing all of this, thinking about what a life without any real meaning actually constitutes, makes me realize how completely certain it is that there is a God, and that He necessarily must be the end all and be all, the very center of all life, all meaning, all purpose, and to not direct 100% of my effort in everything I do to knowing this God would be a total waste of my life.
Bingo. Now to the living of it.
If everything: all nature, all thought, all emotion, all love, all desire comes from and is sustained by and through Him, then what absolute folly it is to run after anything else. How futile to chase after those things of earth that entice, amaze, enthrall, when they are simply by-products of the great continually exploding expanding supernova that is God. No, I must strive for the source of all that is beautiful and true to me. I wonder now as I sit here if I’ve ever had this realization before. It’s so clear to me now, as if I’m Dean Moriarty on a three-day Benzedrine trip seeing things clearly and without coloration: pure, undistilled truth revealed as if for the first time.”
I tend to ramble a lot in my journal, and use punctuation weirdly. It’s also probably influenced by my reading _On the Road_. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s pretty rough going early, but it’s really a great and important book. I guess I was just so struck by the way Dean goes after life full-bore at all times, although he’s missing the whole point and it takes its toll continually. Kind of weird that I’d take something so spiritually powerful from a book that is largely about hedonism, and from a girl for whom God is of little concern. … I guess it’s just that God is everywhere, permeating the fabric of the very being of all things, and he is revealed in the smallest and most illogical ways if the eyes are open.
I’ve heard it said that unless all of Creation is a medium for general revelation there is no medium for special revelation. This is some deep and invigorating stuff, Matt. Keep the prophetic pulses coming.