I heard once about a choir director who had a sign on his desk that said, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time, and annoys the pig.” I’ve come to the conclusion that this is good advice for a lot of areas of life.
Some people find life an adventure. They try new things, learn new skills, they enjoy the process of learning and realize that education isn’t something you do for 12 or 16 years in a classroom, it’s something you engage in throughout your life. They have found the wonder of living, and there is joy around them. I like to think I fall into that category. I’ve spent most of my life watching and listening to people. I like to know what makes them tick, why they make the choices they do in life. And if they’re interested, I like to share some of the joy and wonder that I’ve found in my life.
But there are others who don’t have a clue…and who don’t know that they don’t have a clue. Their life is this narrow range of experiences and emotions. They are reactors whose lives are a series of reactions to the external things that happen. They don’t make anything happen, they just react to events. Are these the ones that Thoreau referred to as living lives of “quiet desperation”? I know I’ve had times where I felt a sense of that desperation, but that’s not the space where I live on any consistent basis. I prefer the light, those open spaces where the thoughts can go unfettered, like toddlers exploring the back yard.
I wonder what happened to squelch the joy of learning in these clueless people, what stunted their growth to keep them from exploring new ideas and trying new things? They live and work and rub shoulders every day with others who are thinkers and doers and yet it never seems to rub off on them. It’s as though they have blinders on, and all that exists is this narrow box of their world. Nothing is terribly bad, it’s just never wonderful, never awesome in this medium world they live in. And I feel really sad for them, not ever experiencing the range of joys and delights that the Creator intended them to enjoy. Granted, the mountaintops also leave valleys between them, so there are lows.
Maybe that’s the root of it…they don’t want to take the risk of the low places as part of the journey. Maybe we have been so prosperous and bent on achieving our own comfort, and fearful of pain and discomfort. It’s just easier to be a thermometer than a thermostat.