Thursday, October 02, 2008

Surrounded by Ideas

Here in my home study I am mere feet away from volumes of ideas.

There are the couple dozen or so thick notebooks teeming with my own handwriting, from that era when I sought to capture every key fact, concept or elaboration as put forth by my professors at Asbury Theological Seminary. They stare at me, neatly organized, daring me to remember their contents and how my life was once consumed in their creation. I have vowed many times to comprehensively review them, but have never done so.

Then there are all the books about God and the journey of many to live in a manner that intersects with his tenets. Works by Richard Foster, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Dallas Willard, Frederick Buechner, to name a few. There are the volumes, also, that embrace a larger mythological perspective, such as books by Joseph Campbell, Gandhi, Liz Gilbert and Eckhart Tolle. And perhaps taking things a step further in terms of more universal human longings not necessarily grounded in a particular religious perspective, there are the novels. Hesse. Sinclair. Finn. Salinger. Dostoevsky.

At home I also keep a few of those leadership and business books that feed much of my approach to my full-time work, although most of this genre sits atop the edge of my desk at my T-Mobile office. But mostly, my home collection is this patch-quilt of genres, from the spiritual to the mundane, words put to paper by individuals seeking to understand the nature of God, truth, suffering, love, friendship and all of the other interests that occupy us from sunrise to sunset.

And while they sit so close to me, I feel like I scarcely spend any time with them.

I'd love to stack them all up, one by one, a literary Tower of Pisa, and devour them as one devours his or her favorite dish. I'd do this with my laptop nearby, so I could capture whatever epiphanies were flowing and jot down the structure of any book ideas that emerged or simply give birth to a blog entry or two. I'd love a chunk of time each day dedicated to reflection, to higher, critical thinking about ideas that matter most, and then more intentionally apply them to relationships, work, community, faith.

Having a great new read fall into my lap has always been intoxicating for me. The thrill of the possibility of a new insight into life. Sometimes I feel that what truly motivates me is the ongoing journey of evolving ideas. Learning might be the central passion that unites so many others for me.

And yet there also are those dark moments when I question the flimsy pragmatism of all the learning. What human purpose does it solve today, right now? What priority or responsibility am I blowing off for the sake of learning?

Or is learning the priority, which creates the proper flow and equipping for dealing with everything else, which waters the seeds for the blossoming fruition of faith that gives proper perspective to all endeavors?

Here in my home study I am mere feet away from volumes of ideas. And my mind is growling with hunger.


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