Go for the Turkey
The wise are certainly out this week.
They're everywhere, and their genius is emerging, advice is flowing. It comes unknowingly and when least expected, but if you listen carefully you may catch a few words. I've noticed that it's coming in the form of proverbs, sayings and clichs, all of which make it very easy for the listener (like me) to feel quite confused, frustrated and a little crazy.
But I'm still paying attention and doing lots of listening, for I think these truth-tellers are leading me somewhere. I've been bouncing wildly and consistently from one to another, and I can't stop now.
It began when I was listening to an always-wise friend ponder the status of a newly-absent love. "I can't decide," she told me. "It's either, 'distance makes the heart grow fonder,' or 'out of sight out of mind.'"
I thought about it. She thought about it. We stood in silence, waiting for a moment of inspiration, a confident reason for favoring one possibility over the other. Of course, with each suggestion, we only realized how complicated matters of the heart must be, how either proverb could provide an explanation for any and all situations.
Each of us parted, I'm sure, still pondering these matters: friendship, love, distance, loyalty and the complications surrounding all human relations. People go away, relationships change and we're often left aimless.
"Home is where the heart is," a housemate of mine proclaimed as I walked in the door. Indeed, I felt drawn to the concreteness of her language, the confidence in her statement. Of course, I thought. Everything important is at home, the place of family and history.
"Well, that's what you always think when you're away from it," she continued, "and then you go home, and you realize that it's the last place you want to be."
I was thinking about that, about what it means to go home after being gone, how it may be the same place it always was, but how there's something inherently different, how it begins to feel a little foreign and perhaps loses some of its comfort. It's just a part of being a college student, I thought while standing in line at Topside. It's growing up and learning how to become an adult.
"Damn the man," a girl ahead of me shouted to her friend, in what was becoming the expected clichd language. "It's college; I'm exploring."
That's right, I continued silently. That's what college is for, growing up, exploring. We're here to figure out our passions, choose our careers, meet people and figure out what's most important to us. It's fun, free, exciting, confusing, challenging and painful, all rolled into one four-year (or so) block of time. It's exhausting.
"But you wouldn't want this to be easy," a wise and always on-the-ball professor said while meeting with me to talk about a project (one of those possible passions to consider). "This is your thing."
And he's right. If it is my thing, if I've found my thing, then I've got to do it. And of course we don't want our things to be easy; we want them to take all of our energy and hold our interests forever.
I used to think that this was it, that this was the answer to everything. As Max so wisely advises in "Rushmore" (one of the smartest movies ever made), "I guess you've just got to find something you love to do and then do it for the rest of your life."
Ah, yes, I thought while walking home from my professor's office. Relationships are complicated, but home is where the heart is, for awhile at least. Then we must grow up and go to college, where we are free to explore and find our passions and hopefully land on something important, something difficult, that we can do for the rest of our lives.
Then I walked in my house to another disgruntled housemate, this one declaring, "It all ends in death anyway." So what's the point? We talked for awhile, discussing the importance of little things, the need to let yourself live in the present, the impossibility of actually doing it when you know it doesn't matter; it all ends in death.
I learned long ago that the only cure for such a grim outlook is bowling, so that's what I did. I found my favorite bowling companion and we hightailed it to the alleys. But rather than clearing my head and allowing me some cathartic relief, bowling seemed only to turn me into one of the proverbial wise.
Rather than thinking, "There's no stress, no stress," as I usually do on the approach, I found myself repeating a new mantra: "Bowl every frame like it's the 10th." I meant it literally, telling myself to relieve the pressure and go for the turkey (three strikes in a row, my 10th-frame specialty), but in the context of this week of wisdom, perhaps it held greater meaning.
So that's how I'll take it, and until I receive my next message, I guess I'll pause with this one, maybe even considering it my own contribution to the collection. Because it's true, you never know; today could be the 10th frame, so you might as well go crazy and go for the turkey.