Saturday, September 6, 2014

The joys and glories of life

"If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, than any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy.

In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you -- the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence...the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.

Our commonest expedient is to call it Beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter.Wordsworth's expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering."

CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

It's rare for more than a day or two to go by without me remembering my college days with fondness - and that is especially true when my sister Kaley calls me up to tell me about her latest Torrey session, the latest book she's reading. It is a joy to hear of her enjoyment, and a greater joy to be able to talk about the things that Torrey students talk about with her. And after we hang up, my mind wanders back to the bygone days of yore.

And I remember so much. I remember grabbing dinner after every single session: Sometimes to continue the philosophy and theologizing of session, but often to merely extol the virtues of seasoned fries and Caf-made milkshakes. I remember Torrientation, and how I completely failed to realize that the people in my group would grow into some of the most amazing friends I can imagine. I remember arguing against Chesterton's Manalive because I was a fool who mistook stagnation for contentment, and I remember my Don Rags and that one time, late before I left my dorm, running through the rain with my billion-pound backpack bouncing on my shoulders, borrowed tie streaming in the wind.

I remember Plato Family Dinners, and proving to them that Anna was real, and not imaginary. I remember passing notes in session, with the solitary three guys sitting together in a sea of hostile women, and Satan with his nose pressed against the glass, looking on at the family at Christmas. I remember going home to take Anna out on a date, and getting a call from my Plato Family informing me that while they had missed me at Freshman Initiatives, they had set a bottle of Dr. Pepper there to house my spirit, which they subsequently drank. And it must have been after the first Thor movie that me, Kyle, and Daniel dubbed ourselves the Warriors Three, with the addition of the Lady Steph.

It would be literally impossible to list them all, with any attempt inevitably followed up a moment later with "And then, of course, there's...".  And after that, there's the non-Torrey memories, which could fill another post...the wing runs, the movie nights, the Brawl and Halo and Guitar Hero and Nerf Wars and the people who made it all so awesome...

And there are days when I almost wish I could go back. There are days when I am in danger of committing the mistake that Lewis sees in Wordsworth: Of seeing this joy in my life and making it The Joy... But the friendship, the engagement, the family of Biola and Sigma Chi and Plato, was in fact a symbol, a memory of something I have yet to experience, of the great Joy still to come. And it is sweeter still because I know that those same people will be there as well.

But despite the almost, I never do wish it. Because when it comes to symbols of the ultimate reality, I'm living the best symbol there is. Being married to Anna is a greater joy, a greater happiness and companionship, than I had at Biola. And although it is not The Good, it is still a Good, and a great Good at that.


  1. Fun post. I mean this in the best possible way, but this establishes your nerdiness beyond a reasonable doubt (to use my profession's jargon). ;) I suppose I shall have to locate a copy of Manalive one of these days, and have my own argument with Chesterton, who is on my short list of guests for the ultimate dinner party. (Lewis makes the cut too.)

    1. Haha! I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell everyone who talks about "one day tracking down by Chesterton": Gutenberg, my friend. Gutenberg.

      (As an aside, one of my Torrey friends referred to Chesterton as her "soul mate", and when she did so in the hearing of another friend, he told her that she should never choose a soul mate who would crush her to death when rolling over in bed. She was not happy.)