September 2, 1998


I need to tell you that I cannot write an issue of ZIGZAGS this week. I simply do not have time. You must understand that I want to write it. I want to do a lot of things. I want to eat, sleep, read the paper, watch TV, skim a novel, take a walk, talk to my family, be a friend – and that is just the beginning of the list. But I do not have time. I am busy studying theology.

I started divinity school last week and one of my courses is Systematic Theology. I love it. No, that is not enough – I really love it. How about I really, really, really love it. I am so excited about it that it has taken over my life, with my permission of course. If only I could read theology twenty four hours a day – that is my goal. All of the other stuff of life is stopping me and I resent that.

I have figured out how to read theology while eating, but I am still working on the sleeping time. There should be a way to make sleeping more active so that I could synthesize the study of theology with it. I recall the now-ancient suggestion of listening to tapes while you slept, but that never really caught on. My temporary solution is to be so wound up that I cannot go to sleep. I eventually do have to sleep, but I jump into theology mode at the first sign of any consciousness, thereby cutting short my sleep and making my day start way before dawn.

I know, you think that I am exaggerating – and you are right. I am still interacting with my family, seeing clients, and reading the sports page. But I am not exaggerating as much as you think I am. The stuff above is much closer to the truth than I would want to admit. It feels like an obsession, an addiction. Addiction can be defined as a repeated process which interferes with your life or the life of others. And right now theology is interfering in my life and the life of others.

I am working on balance. Oh how I hate that word. Instead I like to use the word priority. What are my priorities? Everything is not equal and in balance. Priorities shift, as they should. Right now, divinity school is a priority in my life, but its level of priority is out of whack. The excitement of this new study swells the priority. It just feels so good to study theology. So what do I do?

The answer is not to dampen the excitement, to put a lid on it and make life safe. This excitement is full of the best energy of life. I need to keep the excitement, keep the energy. But at the same time I must attend to the other areas of my life, even if I have to force myself to do it. Over time, the tension of the pulls of the different parts of my life will ease, but I must make sure that I do not do any damage in the meantime.

After all, I am just starting a big zig. When you start a big zig you are leaving the status quo, you are stirring up the pot, you are going into unfamiliar places. It will be messy for awhile. I had worked very hard to build my life just so. It was a life I knew. Even if it was boring, it was safe. This step out into a different life will never be easy, but it will always be exciting. At some point, taking the step is not a choice. I was at a place where I could not stay where I was. To keep the status quo would have caused a step back in life, and I want to move forward.

There are different kinds of zigs. Some zigs take you into excitement, but many take you into the land of pain. The zigs after a divorce or death of a love one will not be full of excitement. Most of the zigs that do not happen by our choice are painful.

Voluntary zigs, the ones which we initiate on our own, tend to be the ones full of new energy and excitement. Zigzaggers learn the terrain of this transition and are not surprised by the shake up of life caused by the zig. Sometimes they need blinders to just get started and they focus only on the one new thing. But soon they take off the blinders and look around. Life is everywhere. Opportunities to love are everywhere. And now they have this wonderful new energy to share.

Now if they could just get some sleep.

No comments: