Choice Gift

Posted on July 31, 2006

Sometimes I think stupid people have all the fun.

This is not any different than the Psalmist saying that sinners have all the fun. There may be some truth to it, perhaps, but it is a misleading way of thinking. It replaces the permanent joy of God’s presence with a transient pleasure that cannot quite reach true satisfaction.

Greater truths notwithstanding, it seems to me that people with little imagination and the simplest insight lead the most contented lives. If something seems right to them, they take it as right. They may still find themselves wanting things that they do not think are right, but when something seems to be right to them, that is the end of the matter. They henceforth pursue or accept that good thing. They never entertain the most vexing question, “What if it only seems right because I am wrong?”

This question ought to be academic to anyone who believes in the corrupted nature of mankind. Suppose you do not subscribe to this principle; well, I think you ought still to be able to remember yourself thinking to do the right thing, but having a wrong understanding of the situation. If you are one of those people of whom I am complaining, you may say, “Yes, I could be wrong, but I can only see what I can see; so I will do what is right as I see it, and not worry about what I cannot help.”

That sounds very practical, and that may be as far as your imagination can take you. (I suppose that would make you a “stupid person.” Sorry, I did not mean to say that to your face.) I would like to just do whatever it is I earnestly believe is right, but I find myself thinking that one thing is right, and resolving to do it, and feeling good about my resolution, and then turning a corner and doubting, feeling badly, seeing the folly in that choice. I cannot think that one thing is right long enough to actually do it.

I do not truly think it marks me intelligent to be so ambivalent, but I do suspect some of the less conflicted people are totally unable to perceive the alternative views. They are not decisive, for to decide they must see a decision; they are oblivious.

Ironically, when I am not dithering in indecision, I am oblivious.

I am not very happy with my lot in life, though not for any material reasons, nor for any good reasons at all. But, to speak of feelings and not reasons, I am discontent. I have been telling myself that my discontent is a mixture of poignant selfishness and a false conception of the alternatives, and that I ought to make the most of what has been given to me.

Then I had this interesting thought. To make the most of something is already to say that it is deficient. If we make the most of the gift from our lover, haven’t we made the least of the lover? Gifts from God, and from any other lover, ought to be cherished as they are; not made do with. Make the best you can from what your enemy gives you, but do nothing so callous with the gifts of a friend.

And now teach me, O God, how to do nothing. Hurry up about it.

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