One of the women who I directed in the undergraduate ensemble with which I work is a lot like me. A LOT, poor thing. We’re both into music and theology, we both have curly brown hair and fun glasses, we both speak at elevated volumes when we are excited. In addition to the surface similarities, we also share insane levels of drive, initiative, opinions, energy, and passion. Naturally, I think she is delightful.
This morning she tweeted: “I actually really wish class weren’t cancelled today. I love you snow, but don’t get in my way, please.” Don’t get in my way…I try not to say those words out loud, but I think them very often. Life is short and there’s a lot I want to do, so please don’t slow me down. I have a vision and I will stand for no obstacles or opposition. There’s just too much to do. Knowing how similar we are and how relieved I was to hear that I would have a snow day today, I suggested “in a few years you will count as blessings anything that makes you slow down”.
Although I have a habit of getting all “older-and-wiser” with people I am still an idiot when it comes to these things. I had a concert and work scheduled for today. I also have a terrible cough. If both had not been cancelled today I would have run myself ragged instead of resting, like I should. Just because I know it is a blessing to be forced to slow down doesn’t mean I’m wise enough to do it on my own.
Because if I slow down, what might happen? Will people forget I’m here and stop admiring me? Will everything I’ve worked so hard for disappear? Will someone else, willing to work harder, take my place? I often joke that as a lyric soprano of average height, my work ethic is all that sets me apart. I have that attitude about my whole life. If I don’t work harder than everyone I won’t be special. And if I’m not special, I can’t be good.
A key piece of my spirituality is that we were created because God loves us. My response to Descartes would be “God loved me into being, therefore I am”. I have people in my life who, like God, love me just the way I am: family and friends who are better than I deserve. And I also know what it’s like to love unconditionally, regardless of accomplishment or wit or charm. My brain knows that boundless love exists, that I am loved, and sometimes the rest of my life doesn’t.
Some days I work hard because I am driven and some days I work hard because I am compulsed. Most days the two look the same, and only I can figure out where the boundary lies. My accomplishments are not what make me worthy; my worth was already decided and is out of my control. We’re all loved, no buts about it. I’m still learning how to accept that love without the strings that I imagine. My goodness hinges on that love, not on anything I can do or pretend to be.
Maybe the very things that get in my way are designed to teach me that?
(Yes, I am aware including an Alanis Morrisette song moves me dangerously near emo-teenage-girl territory. Or at least emo-teenage-girl in 1998.)