As my friend Allison so eloquently phrased it the other day, I’m “not a working girl.” I just don’t like to work, as opposed to several of my friends who are exhilirated and stimulated by work, even if it’s not their dream job. Admittedly, I have a pretty sweet job right now. I get paid well for what I do, it’s not stressful, and I don’t have to take any work home with me. But day in and day out I plod to work and think about all of the things I wish I was doing.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not picturing myself sipping a cocktail out of a coconut in a hammock strung between two palm trees. There really are a lot of things I would like to do with my day…but “work” in the traditional, 9-to-5 sense of the word is not one of them. First, as most of you know, I want to write. Now that I’m finally getting my foot (or pinky toe) in the door with that, my sleeping writer’s brain is alive again. All of my experiences weave together and connect in my mind, creating loose ideas for articles and essays (and, hopefully one day, novels).
But I also want to read. I want to read about history and anthropology and psychology and theology. I want to read about other people’s lives and tragedies and imaginations.
I want to learn about nature; the names of trees and flowers and birds and animals and how they all fit together in such a complicated and wondrous design.
I want to know what’s currently happening all over the globe, to be caught up on world news and understand the people and politics whirling around me.
I want to learn to do “domestic” things: to cook fabulous meals and bake comforting foods that I can wow, bless, and console people with. To decorate a room, set a beautiful table, arrange a bouquet of flowers, sew a basic pattern.
I want to study linguistics and also learn languages: Hebrew, Italian, French, Swahili, Africaans, Sign Language…
I want to get my Master’s Degree in Theology…and one in Psychology…and one in Creative Writing…and I’m sure I’ll come up with more.
And don’t get me started on all the places I want to travel to…
There are so many ideas, places, and people in this world that fascinate me, and sometimes I get so wound up wanting to learn that I want to jump out of my skin! At work, I feel squirmy because I feel like I’m wasting time…there are so many ways I want to spend my days, and grading Scantrons is not one of them!
My American workaholic upbringing makes me feel extremely guilty for this. Also, morally I sometimes feel greedy. Did you notice how many times I used the word “want” already in this post? But I don’t want to just learn these things and get fat with my knowledge and experience. I want to pour it out in my relationships and my writing, sharing the wealth with others and hopefully opening their eyes to the glory of God in new ways, as mine are being continually opened. I’m comforted knowing that, in a way, I inherited this yearning for knowledge from my grandfather, Sam Middlebrook, who was a true scholar.
I also find comfort in C.S. Lewis’s words:
“An appetite for these things [knowledge and beauty] exists in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain. We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty as such, in the sure confidence that by so doing we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so. […] The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the road appointed to us.”
So maybe this is an actual path my life could take. Maybe one day I won’t be working the 9-to-5…not so I can sit and watch soap operas and paint my toenails all day, but to live “the intellectual life.” It could happen. I’ll just marry rich.