resolutions and resolve: dispatch from the bread line, day 19


The sun is setting on this 2,013th cycle of the Gregorian calendar, and our situation is growing more critical.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that The Man did me no favors by canning me when they did. The holidays have unquestionably slogged what should be an otherwise fast and furious job search. My concerns a week ago are being realized today, and I’m justifiably anxious as to how limited our options are becoming.

Here at the end of the year, millions of people set out to make changes in the hopes of the next year being better than the one that just ended. (Epilogomena manifested, perhaps?) Resolutions are for those who are tired of the status quo, and many of us are. That said, our resolutions are often in vain because we are enslaved to that state of affairs and, ultimately, prefer the stasis of ‘normal’ to the indefinable unknown. Our status quo got upended about three weeks ago, in this state of limbo, we are not afforded the luxury to resolve anything, we are only permitted to do what we can to merely survive.

If existence precedes essence, then what is this?

Once again, I am reminded that, like Penelope in the epic ancient drama, to wait is to defy convention. It takes a person of extraordinary resolve to hold out hope, even against all odds, for the best scenario to play out. Suitors came and went, easy outs presented themselves and exited accordingly. The strength to remain firm in conviction is extraordinary, particularly in our day. A resolution to maintain resolve, then, is perhaps the perpetual motion needed to reclaim our rights as masters of our own destiny.

Nothing really changes when the sun rises on tomorrow. New years are nothing new, winter will eventually give way to the warmth of spring and the cycle of life will keep on rolling. The persistence of existence contrasted to the machinations of supposed civilization show just how committed we are to the artifices of culture and normal. In vain we try to shape or renovate normal; Sisyphus will have a better chance at getting that rock to the plateau than we will to redeem normal. It’s still artificial, still a chasing after the wind. If anything, I’ve learned two lessons during a holiday season without an employer:

1) Truly, family and friends matter more than gifts or galas. Though the stresses of the job search have weighed on me, I have thoroughly enjoyed the blessing of being with family and loved ones, perhaps more so because our expectations were eliminated to begin with. The gifts we received were graces given and received in kind, and ultimately secondary to the fact that presence are more important that presents. (Feel free to groan. It’s OK–I lobbed that one up like a beer league softball.)

2) Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add [three feet to his height]? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Luke 12.13-34 [ESV, with selected recapitulation in brackets]

Long story short: Resolutions are overrated. Resolve isn’t.

We’ll make it through, and be better for it.

***

Dispatches from the Bread Line are week-daily blog posts until I’m employed again. If you must revel tonight, sip from the top shelf; you have 364 other days to guzzle from the tap.

My best wishes to you all for 2014. Thank you for making this one of my most gratifying years writing to date, and I’m excited for next year. Be back Thursday. –b.

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