Thursday, May 25, 2006

The day I left college for good

The Montero made its smooth, familiar whirr as I carefully pulled away from the U-Haul dealership. As the thick May air blew against my face, I began to congratulate myself for finishing college. Four years ago, I had arrived a green, passionate 18 year old, dying to get started in the ministry. My ambition outweighed my naivety and I was excited to watch my future unfold. “Oh, how different I am from then,” I thought. That streak of naivety was gone and I had matured spiritually. Things were so different now. Feeling good about my progress in life, I turned up the radio. “Take it Easy,” by the Eagles (one of my all-time favorites) played on the classic rock station, and by “...lighten up if ya still can,” I was immersed in singing along. As suddenly as I started enjoying it, I was swept away by memories that accompany the song. I found myself 7 years old with Dad in his MG going to soccer practice, 12, with Mom cleaning my room in Alabama, 16, driving home after a football game, and 18, driving to college. That last one remained in my mind…

Four years before, I had driven the same car, full of the same stuff, on the same roads, having the same quixotic expectations of my future, while listening to the same song. This realization crept from my brain and down my spine to my stomach, unsettling it. Thus, I asked myself, “Was anything really different from 2002?” I had several years worth of great experiences and abundance of amazing new friends, but was I different? I had taken 47 classes, possessed a mini library, and a degree that proved it all, but did it do any good? I had spent 3 of my 4 years working as a youth minister at a church, but was that church any different? I had worked endless hours maintaining the grounds on campus, but did that really benefit me...or anyone else? Is it possible that the past the past four years could be reduced to a solitary piece of paper? Utterly puzzled and slightly depressed, I continued down that same road and cranked up the radio until the sound of Glenn Frey’s advice drowned out my thoughts.