All these pulls on me that cancel one another out like an algebraic equation I can't solve.~Lily King (From Euphoria)
Last night I watched Nomadland, the movie that recently won best picture at the Oscars. It's about a woman who left her home and all she knew to live in her van after her husband died. She joined a growing population of mostly senior citizens who decided to do the same thing. I'm pondering why I'm fascinated by the folk who embark on the "nomad" life. Why do they pack up and leave what's familiar to live in an RV and follow temporary jobs around the country? There's a certain appeal, I know. A dog for company and the beauty of purple mountains and russet and pink sunsets. Sharing campfires with others along the route. The rush and risk of a pioneering spirit.
Most, I think, feel tied down to the pressures of modern life--the mortgage, jobs they hate, an overwhelming sense of responsibility to maintain possessions. The yard. The cars. They want a less complicated life--a less expensive life. I can understand this. I wanted these same things when I retired. Less complexity. Less responsibility. Less pressure.
Yet one thing I've noted is that one can never totally separate from the responsibilities of life and its complications. Even the nomads must manage inclement weather and maintain their vehicles. Confront loneliness.
Perhaps it's our mindsets more than anything else that determine our satisfaction about life. It's how we think about our lives, no matter where we live or how intricate living can be. Perhaps it's like not allowing ourselves to be tied to the railroad tracks of dread or anxiety or guilt about where we are in life. Perhaps we are like Popeye when he finds himself bound to the tracks, the locomotive steaming toward him. He pops a can of spinach and springs up from the tracks. Perhaps our thinking is like that can of spinach, convincing us that life is to be lived, to be enjoyed, to be held dear, no matter the messiness.
I want to live like this, reaching for the beauty, the warmth. Life's exquisite pulse.
There you are, tied to that railroad track, bound by ropes of dread or despair or melancholy. Fear. The train chugs near, the sting of smoke in your eyes. The blasting horn.
Then you remember there is spinach in your pocket. Like Popeye. You wriggle inside your ropes and free that can of empowering green. Gobble it down. Presto!
The ropes disintegrate as you leap from the tracks. You watch from the sidelines as the train sails past. Unscathed. Free.
May you know that when you are constrained and tied to the tracks, life barreling toward you with all its uncertainty, that you have metaphorical spinach in your pocket. May you circumvent the dread, and not be chafed by rope burns of fear or self-doubt, shame or melancholy.
May you realize the reservoir of God's pleasure over your life. May you know His supply of power that enables you to vault from the tracks.
May you experience the exhilaration of bursting through the ropes as He infuses you with strength. You without a scratch. You rescued from darkness. The sight of that train now merely a distant black speck on the horizon, the sound of its thundering horn only a fading memory.
You living your life in all its glory.