Posted by: M.C. | 19 January 2010

Between Destinations

Friends, acquaintances, and colleagues often tell me that they admire how unflappable I am.

“You’re so even-keeled,” they say. “You’re so laid back. You take everything in stride.”

As with so many appearances–and as my wife and children could tell you–what happens beneath the surface is somewhat more complex. I have always been, you see, something of a man in the middle, an outside insider: a black Catholic altar boy in predominantly white parishes, an adolescent Army brat arrived in a town where children had known each other since kindergarten, a black student in white, small town Kansas, a college dropout who has become an academic. In each setting I’ve negotiated (weaseled?) my way in. I’ve succeeded and not infrequently excelled.

But now I feel less in the middle of things and more in between.¬† I have an in-between job teaching at a liberal arts college where I have plenty of classes but no benefits and the job isn’t permanent. We rent an in-between house in the country waiting to see where we’ll land permanently. I lead an in-between spiritual life, unable to return to Catholicism, but without a new religious tradition to call home. And leavened in for good measure is my always in-between psyche as I deal with a recurring, life-long relationship with depression.

I don’t mean suggest that my life isn’t going well. Overall, as I edge toward 50, I am more at peace with myself and my loved ones than I have ever been. But I believe that nurturing that contentment means continuing to build the serenity others think they see in me. I suppose that’s why I see myself as a pilgrim. I move not so much through space or even time but through an interior spiritual and emotional landscape toward some destination I can’t see and may never reach.

This blog (my third attempt at writing one) exists for me to record and share what I encounter, but mostly I just hope it helps to keep me moving. And I hope others find it worth following.


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