Dreamers of the Day

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Monday, March 12, 2007

What

Joe was a friend of mine at Purdue University. A fascinating man with an incredible journey, Joe was studying to become a pharmacist in an exceptional, top tier ranking program. Being so, the program was rigorous and trying on most people who attempt this degree. If one accomplished the degree, a very rewarding vocation would be waiting. It was appealing to many people and many people did not make it. Joe on the other hand did make it. In fact, he excelled at it. He didn’t graduate Magna Cum Laude or receive special accolades, but he finished well. What I remember about Joe was not the grades in which he received, but how his profession reflected who he was.

Joe grew up as a body builder in high school. His pathetic, timid looking frame at Purdue made it hard to believe until he would show the stretch marks on his biceps indicating how large his arms had been. He began lifting early in high school and it did not stop there. He began using steroids to enhance his shape and exploded onto the bodybuilding scene. His love for drugs was transformed from a selfish ambition, to a desire to help others. Joe was always talking pharmacy. It was his life and he loved it completely. Whether you were sick or you were using a certain chemical compound in your shaving cream, Joe would be gravitating to pharmaceutical science wherever life had him. He truly was a pharmacist.

This story comes to mind because of recent ponderings. When I was younger, I believed that anyone could become anything if they set their mind to it. I still believe this to a point, but now with a twist: that person may “die” in the process. In other words, one can become whomever they choose to believe, but will lose themselves in the process. Many people tried to become pharmacist and spent countless nights studying and stressing only to find themselves failing miserably. They could have graduated eventually, but they were not true pharmacist like Joe.

Such is the case with life itself. In the movie V for Vendetta, one of the opening lines is a response to a question posed to the mask man. “Who are you”, inquires a young lady in which V replies in a statement like this: “The question ‘Who are you?’ must first be proceeded with the answer to the question, ‘What are you?’” All this to say, one must first ponder the “what” before the “who” in order to understand why the person is “being.” The source and purpose of being comes from that which makes up the object, not necessarily the identity of the object. Much is the case of art and design. Form follows function and that which loses its form cannot function in the way it was designed to function.

It seems to me that the modern man has this all backwards. On a plane ride to Mobile, AL several weeks ago, I crossed paths with a young lady who had just started college. She comes from an affluent family with plenty of opportunity and wealth. She was deliberating over what to do with her life because her family had put pressure on her. The sad part is, this is not a unique case. Many of us are forced or force ourselves into a vocation of some sorts by analyzing facts. We go about the ordination of our life calling by examining our current passions, loves and desires only never to examine what we are. The modern man builds himself into a machine of sorts forgetting that man was made for a much greater calling than simply a task. The modern man forgets that every form of external expression is a glorified representation of an inward condition. Philosophers and theologians seldom ponder the “what” stating it is for science to determine, but forget how crucial it is in determining the “why”.

After this vocation is determined, the person goes to school to gain knowledge in this field to become proficient, efficient and methodical. Ironically, every other living organism has in itself many complex processes that define proficiency, efficiency and methods, but somehow humanity has forgotten. It seems that humans in their desire to become great, have forgotten what they are. In the journey of life, the expression thereof seems to be changing as much as the life itself. If one ponders any life form, this observation can be noted. Grant it, certain conditions do apply to specific environments, but life seems to have a resilient way about it to conserve, protect and multiply regardless of adverse conditions.

This is where I think Christianity is the only true religion. Jesus did not begin his purpose by analyzing his passion, actions and desires and then proceeded to act accordingly. He knew what He was and what He was about. It was because of this that His identity was defined because He was the only “what” that had ever been. In Christ, we have this same truth to discover. It is not hidden in the corners of the ontological debate in philosophy or in the complex curves of economics, but before our very eyes. God has given us everything we need to view this truth and ponder it. I have witnessed retarded people and brilliant people, civilized people and uncivilized people alike acknowledge this truth. What astounds me is the simple ingredient to this truth. Time is that ingredient, but the modern man has reduced it to a commodity instead of a gift. Therefore, time is used up as one uses cash, only to forget that it is the very thing that feeds the purpose of life. It is in time that one ponders this truth, discovers it under the layers of busyness and schedules only to be filled with life again.

So where are you? What are you? What have you become? Joe could have become a great pharmacist without Jesus because people do that every day. Jesus does not make you better; He tells you who made you in the first place. And in that truth, you can become whatever you become without corrupting the body God made for you to inhabit. Do not destroy yourself by creating another person, but ponder what you are and your identity will be given to you by the One who created you in the first place.

6 Comments:

At 9:28 PM, Blogger Trey said...

I figured you had abandoned your blog...glad that's not the case.

I've always thought it was a shame that the world forces adolescents to choose a path for their lives often before they are prepared to make that choice. And, the really tragic part is that those who refuse to play along usually end up being outcast to some extent.

The only thing I might add to your thoughts is that, in the search to define "what" we are, we must be prepared for the possibility that the "what" ends up being abstract or intangible to us, which might leave us feeling as though we never discovered the "what." The problem is that we expect the "what" to be a single, all-inclusive "what." A "what" that succinctly sums us up completely. Like, I'm a "teacher," or I'm a "pastor." Yet, the actual result can be much more nuanced and, consequently, much less clear. As such, lack of clarity does not neccesarily mean lack of direction. (Not that you were implying the opposite...just a thought.)

My favorite statement: "Do not destroy yourself by creating another person."

Visit your blog more often, Jason. :D

 
At 7:20 AM, Blogger Creth said...

Trey said what I wanted to. and then he said some other stuff.

anyway, this is truly IRONIC (please tell me that I'm using the word correctly) as Christian and I were just talking about the lack of blogging on this site.

we also talked about old people. old people die. sometimes a sixty year old person is old. sometimes a ninety year old person is old. they all die. I've noticed that most are ready and waiting. kinda like using the restroom. you know that you're going to, sometimes you really want to, but you never really wanna force it. forced bowel movements are never satisfying.

so we're all sitting on the toilet, some are patiently waiting- others are pushing- others have forgotten they're in the restroom

oh, and if you can help me with my "what" that'd be awesome...

JASON'S BLOGGING AGAIN!!!!!

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger Trey said...

Yeah, the economic system can play into the tendency toward choosing one and only one vocation, and that's a strong external force. Additionally, as an internal force, I think we fall prey to the same tendencies that incite us to define other people too simply. We want to place other people into nice, neat groups (hence the birth of "the stereotype"), and we want to do the same for ourselves. As a human, I want to understand myself, and the more I simplify how I am defined, the more I can delude myself into thinking I'll ever figure myself out.

In terms of whether vocation is more of a "who" or a "what," for me it's really part of the "who." For instance, when I think about it, I think of the "what" as being a set of descriptions--areas of interest, areas of expertise, one's limitations, and also things like one's location. After all, God doesn't directly give us an occupation; he gives us the building blocks for living a life. The "what" would essentially be those building blocks. And, then, the "who" is the castle we build out of those blocks. From that perspective, the "who" encompasses occupation, which is important for this discussion, but it also encompasses relationships, accomplishments, etc.

Looking at it that way would basically make the "what" into the means to an end, and the "who" into the actual end.

Granted, I believe God does call many people into specific professions, but I would still regard those callings as "epiphanies of the who," as it were. After all, even though God starts us on the path with the "what," we should look to Him to point us closer and closer to the "who" as well.

That may be too much babbling...sorry if that's the case.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Great to have you back in the blogger world bro.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Trey said...

Oh, I understand now. I kinda think the "what" and the "who" exist in different spheres. We can't do much about the "what;" conversely, it's our responsibility to handle the "who."

The key is that we have to align the "who" with the "what," because that's the scenario by which God is most glorified. I mean, if I go off and try to become a pro basketball player (a very misguided "who," which I guess goes without saying), my God-ordained "what" is still there...it's just sitting there collecting dust. In the reverse scenario, the most ideal "who" makes important use of the "what," and the two work hand-in-hand beautifully.

Still, you're absolutely right that it's all about discovering the "what." The more that we recognize and give credo to the "what," the more it will permeate our tasks, inherently creating a more God-honoring "who."

Again, just my thoughts.

I like your thinking too. :D

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger christian said...

You know, I'm not sure what I think about your perception of time in this matter. I think you make a good point in that time has become a "commodity" for the modern man. However, time seems more like the innocent bystander in the story. We can choose to abuse it or allow it to exist as it was meant to exist. But I think the desire and willingness to ponder is the more crucial point you mentioned.

A person can enjoy time as a gift, allowing life to play itself out in a wholesome manner, but if the person does not seek after or even hunger for something deeper, time will not feed much additional knowledge of the "what."

Perhaps a bit out of context, but I like what Revelation 2:17 says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it."

Now, I think this verse deals more with our eternal outcome rather than what is present in this life. But, God is already the author of that white stone, and He knows the name he has in store for us. And, I would think it relatively safe to assume that in conquering our foes and sins and through remaining in Christ and His righteousness, we will glimpse a part of this new name. And perhaps this name is the fully recognized "what" AND "who" for each man. Maybe not. But I do agree with you that we must certainly be patient, allowing for time to continue to bring us further along that path.

 

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