Saturday, October 4, 2014

the chase of the epic: a fellow nomad’s plea.

Call us the lost generation. We have illegalized settling down. Traded in our fathers’ ideals for perpetual searching—a bunch of wandering souls, magnificently aimless. Marriage delayed. Career put off. Adventure accepted. It is the chase of the epic which consumes us.

He rides his bike around the sunset. Lands whatever job likes him. At twenty-nine there is still no rent-less life on the horizon. Bills are low but spending is high. Whatever the cost for an entertaining now, it will be paid. Loans can be differed as long as he keeps going to school. “Student” is a job position now. There is a pride to be had in the humility of it. Endless learning. It distracts from the distance between himself and the goals he doesn’t have. They say he needs more education to qualify. Who is they? It doesn’t matter; he just listens.

When our fathers turned twenty-nine they had a wife, three children, a house, and just as many dreams as we do. The difference? They mastered self-forgetting where we will not. The Himalayas called to them too. The sun rose in the dawn of their personal aspirations and they beat the steering wheel to the rhythm of inexpressible freedom which they also longed for. The seas, foreign foods, and music at dusk was theirs, at heart, as well. But we won’t track by their footprints because we only see the hard shells they built to hold in their desirings. We would run wild.

She is lost on what it means to be ladylike. She’ll conquer the world because they tell her the boys don’t get to do it by themselves. At twenty-six she is professional, but hard-after attention. Life is lonely, at best. Still, she gets to pat herself on the back for each day she chooses responsibility. A long run and some fresh-squeezed juice remind her that she’s alive. The slow stares of older men and the quick sentences from boys retell her beauty, she supposes. There is no one to fix the car, the dishwasher, or the empty feeling, but she will find a way to pay for it all.

When our mothers were twenty-six they were our world. They felt lonely too. Dwelling in unfairness, anger, and unseen loveliness before we knew the words. Yet they developed focused love and chiseled their hearts into the shape of their families. They also wanted to spit on doilies and cookbooks, but the laundry got done anyway. They conquered the world in us. Yet we only see their corsets, fit tightly to keep the soul from spilling out. We would rather burst.

There is something that goes beyond wanting, that tauntingly dances along the edge of necessity in us. We will not be like them. Our lives will count for more somehow. If in nothing else than our ability to make peace more tangible. Mountains summited, cities visited, stars beheld. The world is ours for a moment really and we see only this task—to live in that moment. To reach strength and contentment because that is what we crave as a companion each day. But we never quite get to it due to our fatal flaw—we live for us.

We will sit in unbounded coffee shops, sipping on the hope that we have attempted to materialize. We will listen to music because it makes us feel. We will talk about our not-new ideas and tuck away the seemingly meager legends of our fathers and mothers. We will run wild, bursting out of ourselves to live an epic existence. And one day we shall be sorry for it. Sorry to have seen a noble life as a contemptible case of sitting still. Regretful to have done so much for the self, even in our ill-motivated attempts at charity and simplicity. Fruitless upon realizing we never did grow any roots.

Take heart, lost. We have a chance to remake our journeys.

We can settle down and still climb mountains. Because settling is just a pessimist’s way of saying living. In all our workdays, our lack of time to tend to the self, our dreams that seem bitterly departed—we exist outside us. We can cease pursuing that which is great and for the love of Saint Peter, just do something good. Practice, every day, the sort of caring that looks like letting go. And though no one is infinite, such grounded souls have the best chance of making brilliant shadows on the surface of the earth as thy fly. May we walk other-focused, not caring who sees, but knowing this is life.

And oh, how epic it is.


  1. All the dwarfs were looking for was a home. Adventure is what they found on the way there. Very good perspective on your generation!

  2. Girl. God gives grace to your words. Love this.

    - Emily

  3. Wow, what a beautiful, powerful, imaginative way to describe the issues of selfishness and self-absorption that our generation obsesses over. A great reminder to fight against this mindset. You are such a beautiful writer!

  4. Love this post Beth! It is such beautiful writing with much truth. I wouldn't trade my settled down non adventurous life for anything. I hope you are doing wonderful friend!

    1. Thanks, friend! Good to hear from you! :)