Out for Summer

It had already been a full day at work, but it wasn’t over yet. I drove to the university campus and parked, placing a permit hanger on my rear-view mirror before stepping out into the warm air. I took off my tie and threw it on the passenger seat, rolled up my sleeves, and grabbed my notebook. It was finals week, the last week before summer and the campus was already sparsely populated, I saw the occasional cap and gown as graduation ceremonies would be going on into the weekend. I thought of Sierra for a moment, sometimes I wondered what I would do if I ran into her, she was still a student here after all, but for how long? She was young, so it’s possible she still had a year or two left. Chances were one in a thousand of running into her anyway.

The air inside the building that housed the college of business was cool, I took the stairs rather than the elevator to the top floor, listening to my steps echo through the empty hallways. The building was older, probably built in the seventies, I was somewhat surprised to find the office suite I was going to had been heavily updated. I felt I was walking into the office of a tech startup, it looked liked they’d lifted a page from the office layouts I’d seen at Google and Apple. The place was largely empty except for a man in his late thirties wearing a t-shirt and jeans reclining on an organic-looking sofa with his sandaled feet up on an equally organic-looking communal ottoman idly swiping on a iPad Pro.

“Hello, are you Jim?” I asked glancing around the office for anyone else, figured this had to be my contact.
He sat for a moment as if he hadn’t heard, then got up and glanced over his iPad as if I was an old colleague coming to pay him a visit.
“Yes, you Jason?” He asked calmly.
“Yes, pleased to meet you.” I said, shaking his hand.
“Come on back, let’s get started.” He said walking back to a small corner office.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I accepted this consulting job. It was only a part time position at the university, just barely manageable in addition to my full time job, but the salary and benefits were generous for the number of hours. I figured that now that I was single, this would be a good use of my extra time.

I also wasn’t quite prepared for dealing with IT in an education setting. It certainly was different from the more formal, professional business environment I was used to. Jim’s office doubled as a small server closet with a floor to ceiling rack lit up like Christmas. It was messy, disused parts littering the tables and floors. A flight log sat open on the table indicated he was probably an amateur pilot. And against the far wall leaned an Ibanez electric guitar, and near the window overlooking the manicured campus lawns and trees was a set of effects pedals hooked to an amplifier gave some indication how he probably spent a few of his breaks (or perhaps some of the time he should have spent working). Against one wall was his workstation, 4 monitors hooked to a Mac. He pulled up a OneNote notebook that was the mother-lode of information for this project, I was a bit taken aback at the lack of organization and operational security. In one file here were plain text admin passwords for a dozen servers I’d soon be managing, all of which lacked any apparent naming convention and were just esoteric or mundane proper names, including a misspelling of a Greek deity (ahhh, the students of today, the future of America). Chances are, they were just named whatever popped into the student/researchers head at the time the server was hastily brought online for a research project. I was happy to have Jim to say the least. He inherited an even bigger mess than he was bequeathing to me. My first task was the risk and cost/benefit analysis of this entire shebang.

By the time I left Jim’s office the sun was sinking behind the mountain to the west. I paused in the stairwell to text with Her for a bit. Things were going well, our hearts only seemed to grow closer with each passing day, but with that, the longing grew to be with her. While I wouldn’t trade my relationship with Her for anything, long distance relationships are poignant beasts, they make you even more aware of your loneliness in some ways. I was beginning to sense that I was entering a new chapter of my life. The world seemed wide open in terms of opportunities for relationships and career, but it was also far more lonely, I had less reason to go home than ever; probably why I had taken this second job, a few extra hours a day hardly seemed to matter. My spirit hungers, but I’m unable to see anything that could satisfy it. For so long, being a Christian had lent purpose to my life, being a father, a husband, a spiritual leader, and teacher. Life used to be one big journey to heaven with all my friends and loved ones, but what was it now? I felt I’d left my place of comfort and been thrust into a wild, forbidding, empty wilderness. I felt a continual deathly, hollow silence in my life, like those empty hallways in that school building let out for summer.

Guess I can always ask The Boss.

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13 thoughts on “Out for Summer

  1. How long ago did all of this happen? I feel like it’s hard to comment knowing you’ve already passed through it all. Any advice is redundant and any suggestions unnecessary. Did you take the job with a tiny part of you hoping to run into Sierra? I feel it’s inevitable… Of course, whether or not you did seems to have already happened…

    I feel like a voyeur!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s see, Sierra’s addicted to crack now, just popped out our third kid, and we can’t afford the mortgage on our van down by the river…

      Lol, jeez, I haven’t run into Sierra and certainly don’t hope to. Besides, it is still summer and all the students are gone. This happened about a 2 weeks ago. It is all still fresh and relevant, in fact it provided good metaphor for how I was feeling last night.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Call me a broken record but you often complained of angst and inner listlessness when you were still with your wife and active in your church. The hollowness you describe will probably be with you no matter your circumstances until you can somehow get to the root of it. But know your life will ALWAYS have purpose no matter what faith you have or lack and no matter who may be in and out of your life. Capiche?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would expect that I’m always going to wonder at the purpose of life. But, I don’t always feel hollow and stuck on the problem. There are plenty of times I can leave it for a while and just enjoy, but I know that I will always come back to it later. Do you mean to tell me that you never doubt that your life has purpose? I’ve just always assumed everyone did, unless they wrap themselves in faith and dogma so they can no longer see or question.

      I believe the current state of ennui is expected considering I’m in a major period of adjustment. I don’t think it is possible to get at the root of it per se, just to let the process run its course. It won’t be like this forever. Life is ever new and changing. It blossoms in spring and gets crisp in the fall. That’s what I feel is happening now, and I can accept that. That isn’t to say that I’m not going to keep searching for purpose, but I don’t expect to ever understand it with my reason and intellect, and I don’t expect my spirit to be sated with faith.

      Hehe, thanks for the kind words and encouragement. Perhaps you and your guidos have this all figured out 😉 but I don’t, and I don’t ever expect to, and that’s ok. There is a beauty in that, and I can still live.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I don’t ever doubt that I- or anyone else- has a divine purpose in this world. However I do often sense I’m failing utterly at it.

        There is a theory that we exist as a dream within god’s consciousness. Maybe this is why life sometimes seems nonsensical, as dreams can be strange and random. There is also a theory that existence is a game of hide and seek between god and himself. He ‘hides’ inside of us and must be found.

        Regardless I have seen a theme in you where you seem to struggle with your sense of self worth and belonging. And yes this may never before resolved, which is ok.

        I don’t think anyone has ever bwfore implied I’m wrapped up in belief and dogma LOL that is great. I love it. And I don’t believe; I know!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Whether life makes sense or not seems irrelevant to me. It is more the theory of knowledge. How can one possibly know that there is something that they don’t know? This suggests to me that omniscience and divine knowledge is impossible, at least as far as human beings understand it. I’ve asked people of faith many times over how they ‘know’ and the answer comes down to they just do. Yet many of them contradict one another. Perhaps some great spiritual experience does that to people, but I haven’t had one. And even if I did, I don’t see how I could trust in it so completely when I can’t even trust my other senses completely, drugs can alter the mind, insanity can provide hallucinations, we could be living in a computer simulation or dream of God (or someone else’s for that matter), some suggest that waking dreams are often mistaken for astral projections (not saying yours are, but how can one know?).

          At the end of the day ‘I’d rather be happy than right.’ So I don’t see what relevance there is in knowing to be honest. If I was a person of faith I’d still have ennui with such events as these occurring in my life. Perhaps I could take comfort in prayer and rituals during my day. But, there seems to be little difference to my current evening rituals, reading, playing games, having a drink, spending time with friends. I think the shock and change in my routine is bound to have its toll in playing upon my uncertainties, just as when bad things happen in a person of faith’s life they question God or their beliefs. It is only natural I find.

          I didn’t mean to imply that you were wrapped up in belief or dogma, honest! I was speaking from my experience, which is certainly incomplete. You may possess some power of knowledge that is far beyond my understanding and there is no way I could disprove that. Do I believe you do: well, no, my very limited and incomplete experience tells me otherwise. Hehe, but that doesn’t mean that I could very well be wrong and I see no reason to disagree with you. All the same, thank you for sharing your knowledge with me, it is always very helpful!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a reply to your last comment. I don’t think anyone could or even should believe what I experience unless they experience it themselves. I certainly wouldn’t have believed it until it happened to me. I don’t expect people to believe me and until recently didn’t even talk about it. So no worries there.

    I too wonder about people of faith. How exactly is it that they have faith? Is it experiential (as it is for me) or is culture? Are they faking it for a sense of belonging? Helpful guy on reddit describes himself as post-religious and sees little use in religion beyond a sort of social club (the comfort of rituals etc).

    The eastern concept of god is beyond dualism. I guess this makes god essentially neutral? So to question why does god let x or y happen, or to say god couldn’t exist because x or y happened doesn’t make sense. They believe all existence goes through cycles of creation, sustenance and destruction, that this is the innate order of the universe.

    All this aside I have noticed that you tend to dog on yourself and experience a sense of ‘aimlessness’ (ie questioning if you even have purpose) when what I see is a brilliant, creative man with an extraordinary heart. So how could you not have purpose!! I’m certain if you could take a few steps back you would see what a tremendous presence you are and could be in the lives of others.

    Maybe the emotional abuse you endured during your marriage took a worse toll than you realize. Just thinking out loud.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that you believe what you are experiencing is real, and it certainly is meaningful, that’s all that matters.

      For me, it was a combination. It was combination of reasoning, rationality, but there was also strong motivation because I grew up in a religious community where there were benefits to conforming. That does give one a sense of belonging and certainly influences one’s reading of evidence and susceptibility to read religious meaning into experiences. Everything is viewed through religious/faith lenses so everything ends up fitting from that world-view.

      I’ve never personally had any issues resolving the problem of evil with an essentially good God. I understand, this a major deal-breaker for a lot of people, they can’t abide the idea of a good God who allows evil to take place. What kind of world would this be where nothing bad could ever happen because an all powerful deity would step in to prevent any mishap? Such a universe doesn’t make an ounce of sense. Sadly, evil and heartbreak have to exist to even recognize goodness and love. I don’t believe dualism is necessary for resolving this problem. A good parent doesn’t helicopter their children, they allow them to succeed and fail because that is the only way kids can learn and grow, though they certainly lovingly guide them, parents also have to recognize their limitations. I believe the same is true with deity to an extent, though I certainly don’t believe God is akin to a parent exactly, so the degree of evils allowed are increased and the level of guidance provided is reduced. Or not, I’m still trying to figure out what God is all about, but I certainly don’t think the problem of evil is a cogent argument against the existence of a good deity. Christians of course, believe this is part of a divine plan to bring mankind into a closer relationship with God. That we, as humans, need God to overcome evil and sin. Who can say, but I generally believe that deity is good, and personal, but I can’t say with certainty.

      You are far to kind to me. You do make a good point. An individual’s utility is a good argument for one having purpose. Why would human beings be so capable of such without having a designer that created them with a purpose? I like to believe that we do have purpose, but I feel it will likely be a lifelong endeavor discovering what that is.

      Perhaps you are right, but I’d say that I just haven’t given myself enough time. This is a major transition period in my life. I expect a bumpy ride transitioning from a relationship of 8 years to being single. From seeing and caring for my son every day to seeing him 3-4 times a week. From being a pious Christian leader in a conservative religious community to being an agnostic and having broken all those previous relationships I’d built up over the course of my entire life. And all this in the course of 2-3 months. I’d say, there must be something seriously wrong with me if there aren’t times I don’t feel aimless and listless. Also, don’t forget, through blog posts you see my inner most thoughts and heart. This isn’t the picture I portray to everyone in my daily life.

      Liked by 1 person

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