A weekend with Thoreau...and the psychology of bad days

No, I didn't spend my weekend reading At Walden Pond, but I do feel like I escaped to a kind of heart place.

Here's a bit of Thoreau, beautifully slicing through muddled messages to strike a chord and beat a rhythm my soul loves!

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

I guess in some ways this explains why going back to Iowa is so wonderful. It was between rows of beans and corn that my passion for life and hunger for adventure was sown years ago. From my front porch, my dreams soared over the subtle, rolling hills and stretched out to the horizon. In the hours of farm chores, under layers of coveralls, I learned to sweat and work with my hands.

I guess my trip back to Iowa was something like this. Breathing in air that seeps up from the ground and down from the sky, unadulterated by city in between.

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As much as I would like and need to elaborate on the weekend, it's already Wednesday and I have to get my thoughts out before the grinding gears rust my brain.

I just now added the second part of this blog title (psychology of bad days) because, well that was today for me. The amazing, smile-worthy part is that it's only 2:30 and I figured this out now... so now the second half can be grand!

I rolled out of bed with problems from yesterday still clinging to me like the insistent cigar smell on my black wardrobe. Computer failures, "technical difficulties," article deadlines, group projects, working late... I'm sure you could add a few things and safely say they reared their heads this morning as I sat working on an unresponsive computer at 6:45.

By the time I got to class, I gave honest answers to the "How are you" question. But, for some reason, it didn't make me feel better that my friends knew I was frustrated. I wore out the 'just-having-a-bad-day-and-let-me-have-one' sigh by the time I went back to the apartment for lunch. Just before I left, though, I returned to my center after reading an email from my sweet sister in Indy. Not only did it put in perspective my mood and attitude, it gave me some good meat to chew on as I trudged home.

So, I heated up some of my favorite Progressive vegetable soup and sat down with John Piper. At one point I just rested my head on the table...it felt like someone was in my head cranking an ice cream maker. It was silent in the apartment but I couldn't concentrate because I was thinking about so many things. Just to clarify 1. I wasn't over-caffeinated and 2. I'm not one of those highly intelligent people who actually have weighty things their brains need to be stressing over.

I wish I could dive into some of the discussions John Piper tackles, but that will have to be left for those who want to sift through it themselves.

I did some cleaning - always therapeutic - but by the time I left my apartment, I still couldn't muster a smile.

I realized as I began my trek back to the program office, that the whole morning I chose not joy.
If I truly want to seek my ultimate joy, then I won't give in to the bad day. If I seek my own joy, then I seek God's pleasure, His creation, people, service, and truly admire the gifts poured out as blessings in front of me.

I walked down to the el in the 10 minute trip to class again. I felt a smile fill up my chest. I'm sure the man sitting across from me wondered how my joy increased so dramatically for no apparent reason. I walked up from the el and realized I hadn't admired the sun yet today. I pulled out my smile like it'd been tucked away beneath the world in my bag and it still worked.

The more I pursued joy, the more joy there was to be found!

In my last entry I wrote about my new friend in Indy, and today (of course just when I needed it) she blessed me with encouragement and delight. I had written that I hoped our friendship would smell sweet. And, I realized that might need some explanation. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."
Paul writes that we are the sweet smell of Christ... I love this picture that makes awake our senses to the knowledge of who God is and others can't help but notice.
I could go on, of course.

It's evening now and our classes are about to give presentations on neighborhoods in Chicago. There is so much more to write about these past few days, but it will have to wait. Apologies for all that doesn't make sense... I just had to write out something before the man in my head cranked my thoughts into lumps of melting ice cream.