On Being Stuck in the Mud

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“Wow… these kids are clueless!” – Thinks me.

The end of 2nd Quarter is near and next to none of these teenagers are even bothering to show up. Well, not next to none, but definitely half. There is all this potential underneath so much of their baggage, if only they could see it. Or at least show up and try. But they can’t and they don’t and I’m not quite sure why.

I would like to say I don’t have any favorites here, just like a father who wouldn’t dare pick a favorite child… But honestly, there are select few that I am extra protective of.

One of them, a 16 year old dad, was passing my desk on his way to class, but I told him to stop and take a seat. It was time me and junior had a talk. He had missed the last three days and I asked him why. I asked him why he didn’t care about finishing and getting out of this place he hates oh so much.

“I just… I don’t know what I wanna do.”

“Um.. ever heard of college??”

“Ya… but-”

“Or Tech school?”

“Well I-”

“What do you want to do with your life?!?”

crap.

I stared back at this kid and his face slowly morphed into mine. Were all my frustrations with him really just misdirected mania over my own life? It was possible… Ya, it’s possible that the post-grad freak out has yet to end. Maybe… I am just now I see how completely stuck in the mud I really am… Yep. Definitely. Stuck.

A couple nights ago I went out with some friends. Of the twenty or so gathered, about four or five were actually close ones to me. The remainder were all separated by two or more degrees- friends of friends, you might say. Anyhow, we drank and ate and started a small talk that soon became insufferable.

I heard a lot of my wife this and my job that, and oh listen to me go on about myself what have you been up to? And I tell them I am working a temp job as a para and that’s pretty much it.

Very… cool they manage awkwardly. Without knowing what to say, they pick up where they left off and go on about how they’re moving to that big apartment in that thriving part of town. As they gush, I nod and nod and it all becomes white noise because I need to stroke my ego.

You, you are awesome. You are awesome and I love you. Whispers me to my soul.

And soon I forget that I am the only one of my friends who works by the hour and not by a fat salary. Or that I am one of the few that still lives at home. I also forget about the tens of thousands of dollars hanging over my head and how I have no spouse to help me pay it off like they all do… And I’m no longer bothered the hallow noise emanating from my empty wallet which once was spilling over with 100s of Euros that I spent back in Europe.

Out of sight and out of mind. Until I remember it again. Like now.

~~~

Yesterday morning, I went to a Minneapolis writer meet up at Prodigal Magazine. Sipping on coffee and partaking in conversations with several new faces, I met a woman with a story that made me feel like I still had a chance. Our small talk was what I needed to hear.

She used to be a teacher. She worked in a job she enjoyed, but for as long as she could remember, she craved something better. Something more. Several of her friends told her to go travel if she wanted to. Go see the world, they said. To which she would kindly respond, I do want to but I NEED to have money and health insurance and a home and all the things that everyone else needs too.

And then she started thinking about need means. And the questions got to her- so she quit her job. Liberated, she set off across the country on a road-trip to all 50 states. And then she started writing about it. Her husband followed suit. Then they launched a blog just for friends, which then became popular by everyone. Finding an audience they didn’t even ask for, they realized that others were looking for something more and better too. And then they launched a magazine called Prodigal.

At some point along this treacherous trip, she ended up at a place where she could honestly say, THIS, this is what I NEED.

Currently, she is in the middle of publishing her first book about her life.

I hear her story and I see so many roads less traveled- the ones that separate the strong and faint of heart. This incredible tapestry of ambition and risk and faith that only God could weave together.

And as I sit here, stuck in the mud while everybody else whistles down the same ole wide path of success, I start to wonder if I’m just waiting for my road less traveled. If when the mud dries and turns to dirt, I’ll get out and go the other way to… God knows where, but some place more and better.

Maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe I’m not stuck

I may just be patiently waiting.

RR