Written on March 3, 2010
Well I’m sitting in the San Francisco Airport waiting for the plane that is going to take me to Korea. I have four hours before I can get on the plane which will have me in the air for thirteen hours so I’ve got some time to kill. Unfortunately there seems to be no free Wi-Fi in the airport or at least nowhere by my gate. So I am just sitting here typing knowing that I will not post this until I’m already in Korea and after I can find some sort of internet connection there.
Well I stayed up all night last night in an effort to make myself tired for this flight hoping that I will sleep through a good portion of it. But I know myself well enough that I can’t really see myself sleeping too much on this flight at least not sleeping with any sort of consistency. So what am I going to do for thirteen hours? My computer’s battery will only last about three hours and without internet there really isn’t much for me to do on my computer besides write. My I-Pod is supposed to last eight hours so we will see how well that goes. I have multiple lectures downloaded on my I-Pod in a series on the history of philosophy. Then I brought some books covering various topics. From Edward Gibbons history of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” to Edith Hamilton’s classic work on Greek and Roman mythology called “Mythology” and a few collections of essays concerning various topics such as reasons (personal and philosophical) for the rejection of the idea of God (specifically the Judeo-Christian one); what is the purpose of life; what is moral and how can we live morally and things like that. Also have some Thai and Lanna Thai stories and sermons and Hudson Smith’s work called “World Religions.” Of course there is no way I will get to all of this but I wanted some choices since you never really know what you are going to be in the mood for. Even now I don’t know what I will turn to first. I’ve been getting back into my classical studies (Greek and Roman) but also want to begin my first real in depth study of Buddhism and Hinduism. One thing I have a lot of right now is time so I’ll decide later.
Really I find myself thinking a lot about the trip in an effort not to focus on what lies ahead of me because what lies ahead of me is the unknown. I have heard many wonderful things about Korea from people who have done the same thing I am doing and loved it but none of that really offers me any real true understanding of what I’ve gotten myself into rather it merely offers me some consolation that I am going to enjoy whatever does end up happening while I’m in Korea.
Angelina, my close friend, asked me last night what I wanted to accomplish this year and I had absolutely no answer for her. I sat quietly for a while and then responded quite simply saying, “I don’t know.” It is rare for me to have no ideas or thoughts to spout off concerning meaning and purpose when given the opportunity by friends, family or really anyone. I continued to think about that question after my conversation with Angelina ended. I thought about it throughout the night, on my way to the airport, during my flight to San Francisco and now as I sit here typing and yet I still have no real answer. What do I want to accomplish?
While I may not know what I want to accomplish I believe I do have an idea about what this trip with bring about (force) in me. I am going to have to learn to ask for help, to look foolish, to go with the flow and simply accept what I cannot change. These are things that have been difficult for me my whole life. But I have seen changes in these areas over the last year particularly since I turned away from the faith of my youth. Since leaving my faith I have found my self-confidence growing and discovered a wonderful sense of peace that I never knew before. It is amazing how different things can look when you stop believing you are a sinner by nature and of no value outside of the “grace” of God. But even as I say these things I wonder how this trip will affect me spiritually. Will it affirm my new beliefs about the value of life without God, will it cause me to turn back to the faith of my past which I have rejected or will it open me up to new forms of spirituality that I did not previously know existed? I don’t know but I hope it doesn’t cause me to go backwards to my old faith. I can’t fully explain it but there is something about Christian theology that makes life seem so pointless even worthless to me now. The very existence of heaven has a way of devaluing this present life to the point of making it little more than a sort of divine waiting room with some going up and others going down. I hope Korea can be another step forward in learning how to life a good life here and now and stop wasting my time with questions surrounding death. In truth no one has a clue what happens to us after we die but I know that if what Christians say is true is actually true then heaven is not a place I have any desire to be. Once you realize you, as imperfect as you are, are morally superior than the God you are told to worship you simply cannot not worship him anymore whether he is real or not. I am walking into the unknown and yet I walk in with an excitement/fear that is different than the type of excitement/fear that has defined me most of my life. I no longer live in fear of letting someone else (God) down rather I am excited about what is possible now that I am actually living intentionally, morally and hopefully fully. It is amazing how much easier it is to care about other people when you stop placing a god in front of them.