“Curiosity does, no less than devotion, pilgrims make.”
~ Abraham Cowley
It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly when it happened, but at some point during the last few years, “truth” became the most important thing in the world to me.
I think it was the fake fireplace that did it.
When Dana and I were first married, we didn’t have a lot of money. I’d lost a business I loved to the recession and we owed a lot more than we had. I’d wrongly converted that business to become 100 percent of my identity. Losing it was a huge time for personal growth, but also a tough time for us both. Dana would often do little things to help combat my depression.
In the dead of winter 2009, she bought a DVD, that when played, portrayed various fireplace scenes on our television. The flames would dance and crackle with surprising wonder. It was pretty, I’ll give you that. Yet as mesmerizing as it all was, it took only a few minutes to realize that it didn’t give me warmth, or the smell or the feeling that comes with a real fire. I couldn’t roast marshmallows on it. The DVD was just faking me out, depressing me more, and making me angry. I never watched it again.
Even though the fake fireplace made me feel good for a moment, it didn’t satisfy.
It has become more important than family because without knowledge of the truth how can I impart anything worthwhile on a single one of them? How can I lead them? Yes, truth is I still believe it’s my job to do that, and the truth is that’s a pretty unpopular notion in the New World.
It became more important than money because money buys lots of lies that make you believe they’re true. I’ve engaged in this aplenty.
And it became more important than my own ego, because at a certain juncture in life, a man should have a desire to get to know himself for who he really is, not the guy he’s spent a lifetime portraying himself to be.
It’s become really important that when I stand before the mirror, I can reconcile the man I see, with the truth of who he really is.
And it’s all been complicated further by some pretty radical changes the world has presented to us in recent weeks. It would be really easy here to take a sidebar and write about those things as they relate to truth, but that would be a distraction from the point of the moment. Perhaps another time.
It seems not so long ago I was a 35-year-old Democratic staffer and activist, and a journalist, very much involved in the advocacy of civil liberties, freedom and “equality.” Today, I’m a white, 49-year-old, increasingly conservative Christian man, and I never expected to feel this out-of-place in the world. That’s not intended as inflammatory, separatist, antagonistic, or with a single thread of resentment, but it’s the truth. While the world is evolving in one direction, I couldn’t feel more like a fish swimming against the stream.
This feeling is abrupt. And it’s unexpected.
I’ve further realized that we’re all living in a world now where it’s so deceivingly easy to almost unknowingly portray ourselves as one thing that’s so far removed from the truth, and to actually believe its falsity. This couldn’t be better demonstrated by the growing, and out-of-control trend we’ve created in expressing our convictions on social media. In so many ways, our convictions have become our very worst enemy.
I’m fighting against that, and have become more intentional than ever about the pursuit of truth. Not the new truth. Not the evolving truth. Not my own relative truth. Just the truth. The truth that has always been there. The one that remains.
In the pursuit of such matters, every man must find his own way. Alas, we are all pilgrims in this important regard.
I write this as a bit of further insight into why I’ve chosen to make pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago 90 days from now. It’s not a mid-life crisis whim, or some re-living of the old college glory days. And I don’t presuppose the revelation of some magical, new-age, prophetic disclosure along the trek.
It’s just that I can’t imagine a better way to get closer to God by spending some time alone in the “wilderness,” completely without agenda and void of expectation. It’s time for me to listen.
I have no idea where this is going, and I embrace that uncertainty. That’s the truth, and the truth will come. I expect it.
If but nothing else, it has me writing, and thinking again, and I count that as good.