Where I Want to Be Today
It was the Spring of 2003. I was sitting on the top balcony of Blackwell Hall at Furman University with this girl. I liked the girl a lot. And in spite of my lifelong self-doubt, I had a hunch that she might have actually liked me too. We spent a decent amount of time on that balcony at the end of that semester; mainly talking. Once to throw things off the building and see how they splattered four stories below (I still don’t know how no one called FUPo on us for that).
When we talked, I wanted to impress her. I wanted to convey to her how deep I was or at least my college sophomore notion of “deep.” The “deep” question that became sort of our shared mantra for a time was “Where do you want to be today?’ It is absolutely the product of a 19 year old conveying, like, we need to live in the now, you know? Yet as much as it was the question of a college guy trying to impress a girl, I find myself still thinking about it 15 years later. It’s not as profound as I thought it was, but it is still a good question to ask.
I still want to be with her, my now wife of 13 years. I wonder sometimes if I asked that question with the hope that she could say she wanted to be with me so that I could be with her. I want to be with her exponentially more than I did that long ago spring. I want to be with my sons. There is a 100% chance that they will drive me insane today. There is a 100% chance that they will also do something that makes me love them more deeply than I have before. It’s maddening and beautiful. I want to be with them to let them know that they are loved, to help guide them to being people who give back to the world and not just take from it.
I want to be a minister and I want to be a minister here in the empty church I sit in right now. I want my students to know that they are loved and accepted by God. I want to do my best to show them the ways of Jesus because even though the actions of Christians are sending a lot of mixed messages, I still believe that his way is the best hope for the world. I want to be a stable, consistent presence. I want to help. I want to minister as myself and not as some super-minister that only exists in an ideal. I want to be honest and vulnerable. I want to speak the truth in love. I don’t want to be afraid of my convictions.
I want to be in South Carolina. Actually, I want to be with my family. I want to deadpan responses to my dad’s puns, I want to see my mom’s smile. I want to sit at a table and share a meal with them. I want to talk about everything from faith to rebooting the Mighty Ducks on Netflix with my brother. I want to play video games in the same room as him. I want to be in Missouri or rather with my sister. I want to hear the passion in her voice as she talks about missions and the whimsy in her voice as she talks about her day. I want to see my sons and nephews all playing together.
I want to talk with Grandma. I want her to know that I still miss her. I want to hear about the books that she’s read. I want to hear all the questions she has been asking God. I want her to be with Granddad and watch them lovingly bicker. I want to be at Paladin Stadium on a crisp fall day. I want to play Friday Afternoon Football and go to Firehouse Subs with my friends from college. I want to be at a church service in Matanzas, Cuba. I want to be in the mountains of Guatemala. I want to stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon. I want to be at the top of Multnomah Falls. I want to run on the cliffs in Torrey Pines and through the cobblestone streets of Venice. I want to hear “Till Kingdom Come” played live when I never expected it. I want to play “Beautiful Things” with a band at Seesalt.
As I’ve written this, it occurs to me that I want to be everywhere and everywhen at once and that is impossible. Yet all of this, to some extent, lives inside me. So where do I want to be today? I want to be here for here is the only place that I can be. But I want to embody all the people and places and moments that have made me who I am. I want to be like a prism in which all the light that has been in my life is refracted through me and out comes a technicolored spectrum that lights up whatever I am doing now. I don’t always do that, but that’s what I want to do.
Maybe that’s a naive or overly sentimental way of answering that question. But I want to answer that question with full gratitude of everywhere I’ve been rather than living in want of everywhere I want to be. I want to be present. I want to love God and others. And I want to do it all in light of all the places that I want to be today.
Where do you want to be today?