“Look Hannah, I’m digging up the world!”
This was the exclamation of a child in PNG as he was digging in some dirt.
And it just struck me as an incredibly profound statement. A beautiful perspective that belies truth held with a healthy optimism, though most adults would probably dismiss it as innocently silly or naive.
The problem with most adult minds is that our perspective is tainted by a cynicism that kills hope. We also have been taught to value the big and the flashy. The immediate and the pleasurable.
And it takes a paradoxical understanding of all of life’s activities to be healthy and productive. That there is huge significance to every insignificant thing we do. And it is incredibly interesting to me that the child is able to hold the paradox in his mind with such ease.
And I am reminding myself this morning that the most significant actions and decisions, thoughts and words are perhaps the ones that seem the most insignificant. The world is there for us to change it. But it is to be done one thought at a time. Perhaps this is what Jesus also meant in a roundabout way when he said, “whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do it for me.”
We all grow up wanting to change the world. But we fail to realise that we must do it, nonchalantly, moving one pile of dirt at a time.
I’ve made some points previously regarding the crises we face as a generation. We live in perilous times indeed. The case of Ian Thorpe is by no means an exception. Here are a few of my observations arising from his circumstances – one that is not so dissimilar to most of ours:
1. In the 21st century, there is a stark difference between Greatness and Mediocrity
Our present 21st century environment has awakened within our hearts what was always there – human desire for greatness. No grows up wanting to be mediocre. No one grows up wanting to just be average at life. No, when we are young we dream of ruling the world and eradicating poverty and curing cancer.
At some point our idealism gets invaded by reality. How we react and recover and settle after the reality check determines our contentment AND success. I believe truly great people are people who have the ability to bridge the gap between the real and the ideal again and again.
On the other hand, mediocrity happens when we settle for the real and stop striving for the ideal.
Particularly in Ian Thorpe’s case, he once had a very real taste of greatness – so when he tasted mediocrity, it hit hard indeed. Depression set in, and alcoholism as a form of escapism was a coping mechanism
2. Not finding a way to administrate or reconcile the difference can cause depression and escapism
Here is the crucial point for us in this generation: the chasm between the real and ideal has increased far beyond what is manageable at times (or rather our ability to perceive the chasm has increased). So the ‘settling’ when reality hits becomes incredibly difficult. I myself have experienced a degree of anxiety and depression related in part to this in the last year (i think – I’m still trying to figure it out).
I don’t think I have all the answers yet. I do believe in contentment whatever the circumstance. And yet it’s not a contentment that leads to inactivity. Fulfilment happens when we find and walk the knife edge of contentment vs achievement.
Whatever the case, I deeply believe the full answer is found in the kingdom. Jesus words have provided the roadmap for me thus far, albeit surpisingly at first. But perhaps there is wisdom in heeding the owners manual for how something is supposed to work.