Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wandering Between Two Worlds. . .

I have recently revisited some of the poetry of Matthew Arnold and was struck by many of his lines that seem to mirror my own thoughts (of course, not all of his lines are a reflection of my own thoughts). One such line is from his work "Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse." Arnold writes: "Wandering between two worlds, one dead, / The other powerless to be born." In context, it is easy to comprehend that he is referring to the old pagan religions of the Greek and the Norse when he speaks of the "dead" world. The one that is powerless to be born is a modern faith in the age of science and reason. Arnold's personal struggle was that he was not able to believe in the religion of the past and was unwilling to accept the secular values of the present.
As for myself, my struggle is a bit different. Like Arnold, I am unwilling to accept the secular values of the day. Unlike Arnold, I value the religion of the past (at least the religion of the prophets and the means by which it has been restored in the present). Sadly, Arnold had no knowledge of such a restoration. Nevertheless, I too feel as if I am wandering between two worlds, but in a different manner. On the one hand is the secular world, which I believe is too selfish and full of itself to truly lead humanity in a positive direction. On the other is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, which I know to be true yet I feel seemingly powerless to live according to it.
Let me explain. I do not believe that I am a bad person by any means, but if I am honest I am not a good person either. I have certainly avoided the "bad" things in life, but I haven't really been doing the "good" things either. Hence I am wondering between two worlds: doing "bad" things is dead to me, but doing "good" things is seemingly powerless to be born.
It all stems from selfishness, my attitude of being "good enough." I figure that I am alright by not contributing negatively to society. I earn my own living, I am not a burden to others, I even donate to charities, but I am not really "doing" good beyond that. When I get home and complete my work I spend the rest of my time in selfish pursuits--the pursuits of pleasure. There is nothing wrong with using some of one's spare time for oneself. But to use all of it for oneself. . . perhaps I listen to too much music. Perhaps I watch too many shows. Perhaps I spend too much time on the internet reading about sports, or politics, or news, or blogs. I have been spending relatively little time improving myself and improving the quality of life of those around me and throughout the world. In truth, I've lost sight of who I am and what is my real purpose in life. Pleasure is good, but it is not the end-all, be-all.
I suppose that what I am getting at is that I am selling myself short on eternal progression and trading it in for present pleasures. How can I justify in the life to come the amount of wasted time and opportunity that is mine in the present? I feel as if I am suffocating on my own indolence.


Liz W. said...

I completely know what you're saying!

I have often pondered on the amount of time I waste. That's part of what causes my dissatisfaction with my current life. I need to do more, but like you, feel powerless to really make myself change. I've been praying on that for weeks now: power from above to change me below...

Heather said...

I've toyed with this lately too, as I've watched a friend struggle and am shocked by my greed. I have a good life, but somehow it's not good enough to go out and work to help others. How can I waste time playing solitaire on my computer when I have so much work to do? I know that I've been "good enough" but that is such an odd term, because it never is. There is always something more I could do...So, why dont I?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and giving me another way to look at this.