Monthly Archives: May 2017

What’s in Your Row?

Last Sunday’s commencement address was entitled “What’s in Your Wallet?”. Obviously, the speech centered around Capital One’s ad campaign of the same name (personally I prefer cash to be in my wallet but that’s a post for another day). As a group of graduates, we were told that as a result of our studies, we had what we needed to succeed in life. This is partially true. While education and training can prepare for a life of success, more frequently what’s inside of us is what determines our level of success.

Allow me to move to tonight and I promise I’ll tie all of this together. It was an idyllic evening. At one point, I asked myself how I’m privileged to live the beauty of the evening. We were planting the family garden (one way to pay this month’s rent, right? 😉 ). I couldn’t help but paraphrase the commencement speech’s title to “What’s In Your Row?”

Here’s where I try to tie it together. There is a local acquaintance of mine who’s activity I see from time to time in my Instagram feed. His chosen name for that form of social media leaves my wondering every time I see it. Why? Because subconsciously he’s internalizing the very name he gave himself. While it may have been a joke at the time his account was created, every time he posts, he sees it again. Is it any wonder he eventually starts living the name he gave himself? What he fills himself with is what will be shown in his life eventually.

Currently, I’m in this weird transition stage. I have my career lined up and ready to start next week which leaves me this week to do what I want. I dislike sitting still. I need action and something to do (here is where Mom suggests cleaning up my room or personal file cabinet). I actually lined up some temp work with a construction crew I worked for four years ago. Unsurprisingly, during this time of wide-open, flexible schedule, the Enemy has been actively working at creating stumbling blocks in my spiritual path. No one is perfect; I’m not. Probably now, more than any other time, I am acutely aware that the personal habits I form now will be the personal habits I will carry into the coming months, if not years. It produces this urge to “get it right”, which I know is a myth. It makes what I do no less important. Do I allow the Enemy to be successful in his attacks or do I develop the discipline to resist? What habits can I create to safeguard my future self? The reverse of this is what habits do I currently have which expose me to attacks from the Enemy?

Words, music, friends, books, and more all add to our lives. In ways minute and large, they form the mosaic of our lives. Given that these impact our success or are responsible for the lack of success, is it worth tolerating those influences that don’t lead to the success we want?

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So the question is, what’s in row? What are you planting? If you can answer that, you’re well on your way to forecasting what will grow. Cuz I can tell you this: the row in the picture above has sweet corn in it. I know; I planted it. And what will grow is sweet corn(so many puns leap to my mind but I won’t make any).

Ignite the discussion,

EJ

 

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YES!!

When this posts, I should have my diploma in hand. For a conservative Mennonite kid whose culture is hesitant about higher education, it is a bit of a dream-come-true moment. Yet as an older student, I find the emotional-social aspect different than what many of my academic colleagues are experience. Yes, I’ll miss university life but there’s some elements I won’t miss. Let me compile a list of what I will not miss and what I will miss from university life.

 

What I won’t miss:

Language – college students can possess a rough vocabulary. Whether the use of salty language makes them feel larger, more in control than what they are, I don’t know. Maybe to impress their friends or to appear “in”? It’s possible. Regardless, language is formative and shapes our personalities and our futures. For that reason alone, language should be used with care.

Students not fully engaging in classes or appreciating the effort that goes into teaching. Hand-in-hand with this is disrespect, which is shown in many different ways.

This next one is hard to quantify. What I won’t miss is not feeling truly at home socially, culturally and even in faith practice with others here on campus. That alone can be rough. Yet, when I spend time with others from my home community, I feel a level of estrangement as well. I’m not pointing fingers (I know community members read this blog); I’m stating what is reality for me. Granted, part of that is my fault. Over the past 7 years, I have lived all over God’s globe. In those 7 years, the amount of time I have lived in my home community is probably 8-10 months. So yeah, I’ll take the brunt of feeling estranged.

The constant travels to and from school. The thirty minutes between Bluffton, Ohio and Elida, Ohio gets old. Quickly.

The boring terrain of western Ohio.

 

What I will miss:

People. I have met so many wonderful folks who I otherwise wouldn’t have met. Professors and administration members who have encouraged me through my studies. Customers of my fry pies and granola bars. Students who have a vision for their life (this is rare; I’m privileged to know a few of these). Others who have become friends from various interactions around campus. People with whom meals, coffee, and conversation has been shared. I’ll miss all of them.

The opportunity for rigorous study. Yes, this can happen beyond school yet it will take much more focused intensity to learn about a subject (and I have a deep distrust for Google).

Singing daily in choir. Ah, this one brings tears. I thoroughly enjoyed both University Chorale and Camerata Singers. And Dr. Suderman has become a special friend. 

The culture and community of western Ohio towns. Yes, I dislike the terrain but I do enjoy the people and culture.

 

Looking forward to:

Dare I say it? Simply being at home and not having obligations academically. Yes, I see people snickering. Sure, life will get busy but it will only be as busy as I let it. Give me a cup of tea and a campfire with family or friends, I’m ready for it. I want normal life to happen. Yeah, including the 40 hour workweeks. Gotta pay bills, right?

Being normal, as much as normal can be normal without being a setting on a dryer.

Experimenting with food and production methods. Along with this, starting my own business.

Catching up on my book reading list. I have books on my bookshelf to read and a “to read” list that is quite lengthy.

Pursuing personal goals (see last post).

 

Chapters end, doors close and others open, and time moves on. My Bluffton experience has ended. And I’m grateful. Grateful, that along each step of the way, people were there to encourage me. Grateful, that God was present through it all. Grateful, for opportunities. Grateful, simply to be alive.

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Almost There

I often wonder why I maintain this blog. I do horribly with posting. Every now and again I get on a schedule but something always happens to knock me out of rhythm. I won’t promise anything in the future. Graduation is this weekend and I believe my thinking capital has been used to get through school. Now with my undergrad studies over, maybe, just maybe, I’ll have the time to get back to writing and thinking about life.

Cuz trust me, I still do that.

One thing Bluffton University has helped shape in me is a greater vision for a restored Earth. My personal vision is seeing this done through agriculture. Maybe I’ll write about that. I still enjoy music and making music. Maybe that will get some writing attention. My friend, Anita, mentioned something about conservative Mennonites not having a comprehensive theology about the body and physical fitness. I may have a thought or two about that as well. Life is lived in relation to others. Relationships matter. As an older single in conservative Menno-dom, maybe a few thoughts could be conjured up on that subject (or a lot). I could publish my essay on dating, though it would look like I’m stealing Doug Kauffman’s material. The content of our essays is very similar. Or maybe some satirical fantasy about dating?

Where are we by now? Restorative agriculture. Music. The body and fitness. Relationships from a conservative single perspective. Food. Friends. Personal projects (Ultimate Frisbee league, book club, inter-church choral society to name a few). Personal finance. Yes, there could be more thoughts coming. And hopefully in small, bite-sized chunks.

I really don’t know. All I know as of right now is that graduation is tomorrow at 2:00 P.M., my degree of Food and Nutrition with a concentration in Business Administration will be completed, and I begin my new job in food safety and product development in two weeks. Beyond that, if I have lived or can live such a life that in future months, someone will say, “I wish Eric was here” or is blessed by a memory of some action of mine or is challenged to think deeply and critically or to give life their all, I consider myself having lived life well. That’s what I strive for.

And besides this, God walks with me.

EJ

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