It was a lazy Wednesday afternoon, and a young lad of twenty years was getting a bad case of cabin fever. He had spent the previous four weeks traipsing about the country in a giant white van, and he longed to once again experience the thrill of the road. Loafing on the couch in his basement was beginning to lose its novelty. However, having heard of this new-fangled invention called the Internet, he popped open his laptop. "Wow," he thought, "I can write whatever I want and put it up on a website. And I can even choose an attractive color scheme and font style, and if I want to get really fancy, I can make it play music whenever people get on and read what I wrote. This is the perfect thing to temporarily distract me for my boredom!" So he began to tap away at his keyboard, not realizing that moment on July 2 would forever change the face of the world. Or at least would change what a very small group of people do with two minutes of their week on a semi-regular basis.
We here at A Chicken in a Cage With a Ferret are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the creation of this blog. Since this time last year, tens, nay, dozens, of people across the globe (or at least across Missouri and Kansas) have found their way to this site, though some of them may have been by accident. Regardless, we spare no expense when it comes to celebrating such a momentous occasion as today. Just mention this post to me the next time you see me, and I’ll give you a high five for free, or maybe even a sidehug if you’re lucky. But if you want the full experience, you should probably take me out to Braum’s and buy me some ice cream.
When I started writing this blog a year ago, I really didn’t anticipate that I would be interested in it beyond October (which would have been two months after everyone else lost interest, I’m sure). I’m rather skillful in starting something, thinking it’s the best thing ever, and then abandoning it almost immediately. But I very much enjoy maintaining this blog. It’s therapeutic in a sense, and I probably do it more for myself than for anyone else. That’s why people have journals, but I’ve never really been able to get into the whole journaling thing. It’s hard for me to get motivated to write something when I know no one else will see it unless I decide to dust it off someday down the road. So this is the next best thing for me. Unlike in a journal, I don’t get on here and write about all my deepest, darkest secrets (and I have many dark secrets, believe me), but it does give me a means of sorting out some of my thoughts.
And the truth is that I have learned a lot by blogging over the past year. Or at least I have learned a lot from life in general this year, and blogging has allowed me to make sense of what I’ve learned. I’ve learned that life can be really unfortunate, but that it’s humorous because it’s unfortunate and that people would rather you make fun of your unfortunate life than read about any serious topic. I’ve learned that we’re not adequate to really do that many great things by ourselves, but that we weren’t made to be adequate because God loves filling in the gaps where we’re lacking. I’ve learned that there is much to be learned from our emotions, even the bad emotions that we would rather ignore. I’ve learned that probably the most important thing we can do is make sure we’re firmly connected to Jesus, but there’s so many distractions both in ourselves and in the world that keep us from that. And I’ve learned that I do a pretty lousy job applying all the things I’ve learned.
Blogging forces me to think. After all, I don’t want this to become one of those blogs that lies dormant on some other blog’s sidebar, saying something like “Updated 5 months ago” under my title. I’ve got to keep it fresh. But truth be told, it’s not easy to come up with something to write about all the time, especially since any original thought is so elusive. Maybe that’s why all I tend to do is recycle the same few ideas but with different words.
One of the biggest problems in the world is that people just don’t think enough. They simply act. Or worse yet, they merely allow themselves to be entertained. The result of this lack of thought is that no one has any purpose, direction, or destination associated with their actions. We’re not like disciplined athletes running a race with focus (1 Cor. 9:24-27). We’re more like hamsters aimlessly running around in those plastic balls, bumping into walls, people, and coffee tables. We need to make it habit to stop running every once in a while and ask, “Where am I going?” When we finally stop moving and start thinking, we create enough space in our lives to think things like, “What can I learn from this experience? How can I become a better friend/disciple/person? How can I get closer to God? How can I do something worthwhile with my life?”
Such thinking isn’t meant to be only individual, however. It’s collective. Life is a conversation. If you meet someone who always walks around talking to himself, you would think he was a lunatic, or at least a moron. But that’s often how we live our lives. We stroll through life alone, paying little attention to anything others are saying. After all, we’re the masters of our own destinies, right? We can figure life out. Who needs the aide of others’ experience and wisdom when we have personal ingenuity? But a trailblazer isn’t courageous when there’s already a trail blazed. He’s an idiot.
I’d like to repeat a quotation that I cited in my first blog post a year ago. In his book To Own a Dragon, Donald Miller writes, “The truth I've learned about life is you can't do it on your own. People don't do well independently. One generation passes wisdom on to the next, wisdom about girls and faith and punctuation. And we won't be as good a person if we don't receive it.” And it’s true; we do need one another, because we don’t do so great alone. We end up having ridiculous thoughts and making stupid decisions. I always think I’m right. If I thought I was wrong, then I wouldn’t think what I thought. But I’m at least open to the possibility that I’m wrong, and I try to be willing to listen to what others say.
This doesn’t mean that we fold to the flow of the crowd or to majority’s opinion. That’s laziness. Individualism and community balance one another out. Sometimes (actually a lot of the time), most people are wrong. So it’s foolhardy to blindly swallow whatever others feed you. But neither do we ignore it. We need to critically listen to one another, weighing what others say first against then Bible, and then against our own thoughts, experiences, and common sense. That’s what conversation is. We speak to and listen to each other. We challenge and debate with one another. We work life out together. It’s like in math class. Sometimes there would be a super-hard assignment, so the teacher would let you work in pairs or in groups. Life is an awfully difficult assignment! It’s dumb to try to figure it out alone. But it’s also dumb to just write down whatever answer some other kid gives you. We work both alone and with one another.
Thanks for reading, whether this is your first time on here or you’ve somehow been following along for the entire past year. It is a great encouragement when people let me know that they read a post and liked it. There have even been times when people I barely know tell me that they like what’s here, which is always quite the shock. And it’s also very humbling when people who are way smarter than me and who have their act together much better (which includes just about everyone) say nice things and say that something on here even helped them. No idea how that happens. But if you all keep reading, I’ll keep writing, and we can keep the conversation going for another year. Otherwise, I’ll just go buy a journal.