Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Stoic Doctrine Bites the Dust

We are having a big art festival on our island this week. I got to work it this morning making paper hats for kids. However, last night I biked into the village from our far side of the island. I met my family where we enjoyed the party atmosphere with bands and dancing. But I told my son Ramsey, “You know . . . it wouldn’t bother me at all if they tore down the bridge to the mainland and I had to spend the rest of my life here without leaving this wonderful island once.”

The reason I said this was because I really do love this place with all my heart and I’ve been here six years. The only thing that could make me move is if all my kids congregated in one place far away, then I would move to be near them. But even if I lost my job and could not find another one . . . I would work in the McDonalds’ drive through window and live in a trailer in the woods just so I could stay here.

The Stoic logic that breaks down at this point (and I am using the term “Stoic” loosely) is the fact that before moving here, I lived in a small town in Minnesota that I actually hated. It was freezing cold all winter (and no snow to play in, just frozen dirt and cow manure) but it was like a sauna all summer. I couldn’t go outside. But it didn’t make any difference as there was no reason to go outside. No trails, no trees, no lakes, no rivers . . . absolutely nothing. It is a long story how we ended up where we did, but I did have a wonderful job while we lived there which made it bearable.

But the point is that many, many times, when I expressed how much I hated living in that small Minnesota town, I heard from my Stoic oriented friends (and family), “If you are not happy where you are, then you will never be happy. Geographic location should never determine your happiness.” Or, even being more consistent with the Greek-Stoics, was the message, “You should never listen to your emotions . . . they always lead you wrong. Listen only to logic.” So for six long years I struggled, believing that the reason I didn’t love that small town was something wrong inside of me. You know, just a rotten attitude about life . . . I guess.

Did I mention that I am so happy living here and I’ve been very happy living here for six years? I became happy living here the day I arrived. I am so happy living here . . . even more so than now than the day I arrived.

So when I awaken in the morning to the cool breeze rolling through the window carrying with it the smells of the salty, kelp-tinged air and I hear the deep moans of the ferry lazily drifting across the sound . . . I feel God's pleasure in mine.


Scott in Boston said...

That's how I felt as soon as I stepped off the plane at BLI...what was it now...4, 5 years ago when I came out? Why am I not living there by now? I still do not really like it here...oh yeah...I do have a job here...and I just bought a NEW car...and I'm not sure I'd like it if I had to work in a fast-food place...

I struggled with the exact same arguments/mental pressure in my early 20s when I was considering moving out of my Mom's house in Flint to strike out on my own in MQT...I hated Flint, loved the north, Lake Superior, woods, hills, nature, clean air...I even had Bill Gothard and his drones tell me that I would "do well to consider the example of Jesus, who cared for his mother right up to his death." (BTW, my Mom has for several years now been living quite comfortably next door to my brother in the UP) Four years later, after I quit my job at a Christian Radio Station in MQT to go back to school, learn German, finish my B.A. and prepare to be a missionary in Germany, I had our senior pastor answer my openly expressed 1% of doubt at our young adult camp with "if you're not 100% certain that this is God's will for you, then you should high-tail it back to that radio station and ask for your job back." (This 100% certain pastor, it became known years later, was apparently 100% certain it was God's will for him to fool around with several of the church members' wives).

After all you've been through, Mike, I'm glad you've finally found a good place. Hope I can, too...I shoulda bought a used car.

pennyyak said...

It sounds delightful, along with your past descriptions of the great places to hike and so on. My favorite place is the Ozarks, camping as far from civilization as possible in the forest or by a lake. One year I may retire there (although not in the middle of the forest).

MJ said...

Scott, I think I know the 100% pastor you are talking about. He didn't happen to have a church in an old dance hall . . . and wasn't he too an MD?

Confident Type A Pastors, who are 100% about everything (like Bill Gothard) always scare me.

I was a huge fan of Gothard for a long time. I wonder how many thousands of people he has messed up?

MJ said...

I've only driven through the Ozarks once. They certainly sound nice.

I am glad that there are those people who love to live in the palces I hate (such as the little town in MN).

pennyyak said...

I guess it would not be good if the entire population decided to live on that island. No, somewhat not good (lol). Oh, geographical happiness. A very big thing in some AA or other Anon. groups. "You can't move and leave the problems (the addiction or ?) behind" Which I suppose would be true. However, I don't see why someone can't truly dislike where they live, and enjoy living somewhere else more.

alex said...

Mmmmm, so good to hear that one bite the dust. It is one I struggle with, struggle with believing it to be true that is.

Scott, your description of the UP is beautiful, thanks for the smile. We lived there for several years, and though I adore Chicagoland, there are many summer evenings and winter mornings that I just wish I was there.

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