I went on a great roadtrip this past weekend with my boyfriend to visit on of my oldest friends and her boyfriend in Pittsburgh. It was a really great trip- we somehow ended up at a chilli making contest at this picture perfect looking University…eating chilli and getting these pretty hilarious t-shirts with airfresheners on the back…
But, what I am most struck by, a few days later is a conversation that we had on the drive home. My boyfriend is very good at bringing ideas full circle. What I mean by this, is sometimes we have a conversation that lasts for weeks. Maybe it is because we are both students who are forced to do this academically, but it seems everytime we talk about life and other important things, the same themes come up for a good number of weeks. It’s interesting too, because I think we both come away from these conversations having pulled out different ideas. For example, I just did a presentation at school about social movements in post-apartheid South Africa- it was pretty interesting. So, In the car we started talking about social movements here at home, the role of the middle class and why no one seems to care anymore. We talked about how we all seem so apathetic, how we like comfort-whether secretly or overtly. We talked about the idea of a generation that is so lazy- that people literally spend a LOT of time sitting on their asses. So, social movements and apathy…these were the things I was thinking about.
Matt, on the other hand, has been thinking a lot about the idea of dying to one’s self- this has probably come from conversations with friends or reading or whatnot. From this- the idea that if one wants to truly live then s/he needs to die to oneself- has come the idea of slowing down. Dilberately going slow- thinking slow, talking slow…listening long. If we want to ‘die to ourselves’ it’s not going to be easy. Nor is it going to be a one time act- “…ok, myself is officially dead.” Not at all. In fact, dying to one’s self is probably a lot like salvation- it’s a process, it’s a decision, it’s going to be made over and over again, it’s going to feel great and awful. It’s ongoing.
I say all of this- because this is the part where we started to talk about what does this ‘dying to one’s self’ even look like. I mentioned that sometimes I get confused because I keep expecting something or some time is going to come along when I will be able to make this great transition- where I’ll be “there.” Luckily, I have come to know that there most likely be any sort of monumental moment where I will ‘die to myself’ or begin to live the way that I think I am meant to. But this begs the question- how does this process begin? What does it look like?
This is where the idea of slowing down comes into play- and how it ties our two steams of thought together. It could be argued that we probably need to die to ourselves in order to get off our asses. That we need to learn to, and then ACTUALLY put others first if we want to create any sort of movement. Like I said before, I have come to realize that this most likely isn’t going to involve some sort of “Eureka!” moment- but rather be a slow, contemplative, painful and beautiful process.
So, we slow down. We question our actions, we pray, we question our desires, our intentions, the things we value. We question things when we slow down to really think about what we do and who we are. I think if we want to see change in ourselves and ultimately in our world, we need to slow down. It’s important to realize how difficult this will be- we live in a culture and under a capitalist structure that is all about progress, getting ahead- getting to the destination in as little time as possible. I’d like to suggest that real life happens in each moment, in each choice, in each time we respond in some way to the world and people around us.