The Daily Grind

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a rut? You know the kind, you feel like your wheels are spinning but you aren’t really going anywhere. You try to turn your wheels or take a different approach but you find yourself going nowhere.

It’s too easy to get stuck in that rut as we go through the daily grind. I always think back to the movie, “Joe Versus the Volcano” when the main character, Joe, is going to work in the beginning. As he walks in line with hundreds of other workers to his job at the petroleum factory, they all look like zombies, simply checking off the boxes and existing rather than really thriving.

Life changes for Joe when after his hypochondriac self goes to the doctor and he is diagnosed with a “brain cloud.” The fog lifts from his eyes and he begins to see things as they are rather than continuing to “drink the Kool-Aid” that everyone else seems to be drinking. There is a stunning moment when Joe and all his fellow workers are walking into the factory and Joe looks down to see a flower that has been trampled by all of the other workers on their way into the factory. In their dazed and confused state to get to work, they’ve missed beauty that is right in front of them. Joe bends down to care for the flower, straightening it up and trying his best to restore it to its former glory.

The movie remains one of my all time favorites. I even did a paper on it in seminary for a class called “Movie Theology,” comparing and contrasting the ideas presented within the movie to the philosophies of Kierkegaard. It’s a very existential film that’s worth watching if you like films that make you think and are a little quirky as well.

But my wheels have been spinning and I’ve expended a lot of energy. I’m feeling tired and stuck. How many times have I heard people quote the old adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Far too many times to count, yet it doesn’t seem to prevent me from falling into that rut.

This week, as I quickly approach the three year anniversary of my mom’s death, I find myself feeling nostalgic and stuck, all at the same time. The last piece of the puzzle to help move through my grief is the selling of the townhouse that was a dream for my parents. Instead of being filled with life, love, and laughter, it sits empty, having been filled with death and shattered dreams instead. Selling it will remove a large weight from my shoulders.

I can feel the weight on my shoulders and in my gut. The tension lives within me like some alien creature, waiting to come out, kind of like the creature in the movie, “Alien.” Frankly, I think that kind of entrance into the world would be a bit dramatic for the tension within me, but the sentiment still stands and the explosiveness seems hardly to be contained. I wonder when and how that feeling will ever subside, but I have hope that it will, that there will be a day when I wake up without that ache and discomfort in my gut.

Until then, I’ll continue to press on. I’ll move through these days of remembrance as stealthily as possible, not immersing myself completely within them and not simply existing to get through it either. There is a held tension in which we navigate those waters of grief, a tension of embracing the pain while not letting it overwhelm us at the same time. There are times when one takes over and there is an imbalance and other times when it feels like there is complete balance. Finding and maintaining that balance is the challenge……that’s the challenge that I now face.

Life goes on. I wake up, I move through my day, the world moves on around me, it stops for no one and nothing. In the midst of it, I find hope. While Marx may have considered religion to be the opiate of the masses, I find faith as the giver of hope, the strong foundation for which I can bring all of this tension, all of this grief, all of the challenges that I face. It is that faith and hope that help me move through the grind, reminding me to stop and notice the flower that droops after being trampled, reminding me that I am part of something greater and that there is more than I can see with my eyes. Now I see in part, through a mirror dimply lit, one day I will see in full.

Hope, that’s what we need. Without hope, we find ourselves in despair. So, I move on in hope. It might not be as obvious at times as it is at others, but it’s there, hiding beneath the surface, waiting to take reign when it needs to the most. It’s that hope that helps me move on and through the ruts that I inevitably face.

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