I used to believe that I was destined for great things in life. That I would likely do something important and big and amazing. I had a feeling, deep inside me, that told me I was special, somehow.
I think some of the biggest feelings of self-loathing have come when I haven't had any reason to believe that could possibly be true. I think one of my biggest fears is mediocrity. Of erasure. Of leaving nothing behind me of any value.
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CS Lewis is among my favorite authors. Dry, funny, sincere, and so sure of his faith and belief. So ready to share, and defend. His works are marvelous.
The Great Divorce is one of the lesser known pieces, and one of the more brilliant, I believe. He takes Blake's argument that there will always be a bit of Hell in Heaven and a bit of Heaven in Hell and says there can be no such thing because they are so opposite, so divorced from each other that there is no common factor.
And writes a little dream story about a visit between a modern sort of hell which is people so wrapped up in themselves and their gray existence that they are miserable, and do nothing but cause misery to others. They take a day trip to the other side, to a heavenly plane and the narrator is taken to view several reunions between the ghosts of hell and the very real people of Heaven. Those of Heaven are trying to convince those of Hell to stay, but many of them are so self-centered and so assured of their own rightness in whatever position they've taken that they refuse to see anything else and thus refuse the mercies and love available to them and think themselves victims and ill-used.
There is a stunning scene in which one of the heavenly beings is accompanied by an enormous entourage. She is one of the more important people of Heaven, having come quite a long way to meet her husband. At first the narrator thinks she must be Mary, because she is so beautiful and light and so well attended.
But it turns out that she is someone that no one really knows. She was kind to everyone she met; she loved every child as her own, every man as her own husband, every woman as her friend. She gave freely what she had and was joyful in the circumstances of her life.
The message is fairly clear.
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I think that I've felt an odd discontent lately. Something I've been unable to really pin down. In many ways, I've been more relaxed, more comfortable. And yet. . . a restlessness, a stirring.
I want to find that destiny, I want to fulfill it. I want to do something that matters, something important.
And I guess I'm re-evaluating what that is.
I don't think it will ever be big, or splashy, or even really note-worthy. But if I can do better in the little things . . . won't that have the greatest impact? If I can be a better friend, a more patient wife, a more dutiful daughter. . . if I can step beyond my self-absorption and reach out to someone else in pain and sit with them awhile . . . if I can make one thing easier for someone else . . . if I can make someone else laugh or smile. . .
isn't that more important than a grand gesture? Isn't that a pebble in the lake causing ripples? Doesn't that maybe have a greater effect? Isn't that an important thing?