Going to Boston right before the school year started was about the best thing I could do for myself beginning year two of my academic career at Ohio State, trying to figure out why planning and policy matter to God, and hell, anyone else for that matter.
It’s interesting how if you listen for it enough, you being to see how God answers questions for you – some that you didn’t even know you we asking until the lines of logic run themselves in a way that God reminds you He’s sovereign, and well, you’re not.
Two in particular things I’ve reflected on the last couple weeks that got some more clarity through the wonderful conversations of Chris, Hans, Rachel, Taroon, Jake, and all the other random people here I had the pleasure of meeting, spending time with, and asking them if they could have sex with any Hollywood actor or actress who it would be (Mr. Depp is in the lead).
One was a feeling that I was warring with for awhile was a feeling that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to be friends with everyone. In fact, I was beginning to feel I didn’t want to be friends with most people. It’s not that they’re bad people, or that I’m all of the sudden super anti-social. No, it’s just that I’ve found that I don’t have time in my life anymore for people that aren’t interesting in some way.
I know that as soon as I write it that sounds elitist. Ironically, I don’t mean it to, because by interesting, I don’t mean they have to be what one would expect interesting to be, because to tell you the truth I think I’d grow bored of the kid who lived in Africa hunting on daddy’s money and is at Cambridge studying Philosophy because “I wanted to find something that really spoke to me”.
…okay, so maybe that might be interesting. And maybe I’m defining it improperly, but my buddy Chris and I really talked about this at length with each other, and it happened to find its way into other conversations. Other friends of mine agreed – they just didn’t hang out with people they didn’t find interesting.
As I’ve thought about it since then, I think I’ve realized what it is. It’s not I don’t want to deal with uninteresting people. The uninteresting part is just a byproduct of something else. Instead, I don’t really want to spend time with inauthentic people.
I’m tired of spending time with people that haven’t spent any time figuring out themselves and being that person. This is why I don’t feel like hob-nobing with the top 1% would solve my dilemma. People who are authentic, I think, are people who have seen all their good, all their bad, and take it. It’s not that authentic people are perfect, they’re just aware of their imperfection, and are probably enough at ease with it that it doesn’t get to them too much.
I know one of the counterarguments to what I’m saying is often “well, you just have to get more comfortable with them”. I call crap on that. While every sane person will withhold certain things for more intimate locales and bedfellows, they won’t leave conversation to simple self-absorbed small talk. With so many great, deep topics to concern yourself with, why not? At the very minimum, shouldn’t someone be able to say what they what they’re about? Can you, for instance, tell me what you do for a living? Can you tell me what you think about what I do (for goodness sakes, I work with cities, we live in them… not that hard), and add an anecdote to it from your own experience? Do you like… stuff? Can you quote that Simpsons episode – any episode?
The reason why I think it’s being inauthentic as well, is that I think it’s reversible in both directions. People can become more authentic, people can become less. You can hear it in their conversations. In the way they lead their lives.
Not for just themselves.
The biggest hallmark of authenticity in my mind is a life lived for something outside yourself. Think about the people you respect. Why? What did they do? Now think about a bunch of people you don’t care about all that much. What do they do?
I give slack to some people within my generation, because we still are trying to figure things out. One should never expect an 18 year old to be authentic – most of them don’t even know much outside themselves and their world. But after college, I don’t know if you have much excuse. By then you choose to live for yourself or something else. And even in the midst of the most altruistic things lie people who are in it for #1.
We’re even encouraged by Jesus (the most interesting man ever to live… I mean, polish of a couple Guiness with a dude who’s all man and all God and you tell me how that’s not interesting) that if we want a life worth living, we need to surrender the one we’ve got. The thing is that I don’t think that’s just a Jesus thing. There are plenty of non-Christians that I think are authentic. They found something more important than themselves to live for. They listen to things more important than them, they seek out things more interesting than themselves.
God help me to everyday be authentic. To be more interesting in You and the world and less in myself.
God help me to be interesting.