I’m reading the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and she is talking about finding more fun. She says that her surprise in this was that she didn’t really know what was fun for her, she was so confused with what she thought was fun but in actuality, hated doing.
Reading her contemplation of what it is that she enjoys, the posts from her readers on her blog, her confessions about what she loves—it made me think. What do I enjoy? What do I find fun?
An easy answer, of course, is found in the fact that I’m reading Rubin’s book in the first place. Isn’t that why I’m doing this 100 book challenge? Because I love reading? But then I started to think about other things, things that I don’t enjoy, the person I’ll never be. Unlike Rubin, I don’t lament the fact that I’ll never be a lawyer or businesswoman. I’m comfortable and at peace with the fact that I’ll never be wealthy, that I feel like an idiot when wearing anything resembling a business suit. No matter what I do, I’ll never find chess or strategy games enjoyable (in spite of the fact that my housemates love them). I hate video games. The auctions frequented by my family members stress me out and make me feel depressed for days. I don’t like to dance, partially because of my knee injury and partially because of my fear of looking like a fool (one exception would be dancing with someone I’m completely comfortable with—Patrick, I don’t mind you). I will never enjoy going to bars or clubs, I will always prefer staying home and watching a movie or, even better, reading a book. Even more, I love conversations over tea and art. That brings me joy. I’ll never love reading the news, never find pop culture interesting, and, most depressing and heart-wrenching of all, I will never really love theology.
There, I said it. I won’t be able to make myself love it, no matter how important I think it is. Worse even, sometimes I hate it.
Perhaps some of you reading this are asking yourselves, “Wait… isn’t Kait getting her MA in Theology?” Yes, yes I am. That’s the problem.
I love my work for the Church. I love talking about God, Jesus, and spirituality. I love leading people in prayer. Planning retreats is my greatest joy, which is why Molly and I want to start that retreat center. But when we get into the tall, ivory tower of academic theology (from which God seems curiously absent and Jesus foreign), I want to shoot myself.
Earlier in the book, Rubin was talking about how she knew she wasn’t meant to be in law when she saw her coworkers law journals and loving it and she thought it was the worse thing in the world. Well, my classmates and housemates love to read about theology, love to talk about it every chance they get. I really just want to talk about Jesus or God, read the Gospels, or, even more likely, talk about what happened in the latest episode of Dr. Who or read about natural health or a fun book. I like talking about Tolkien, not Aquinas. (Frankly, I’d rather talk about Aristotle, Plato or even Homer than Aquinas… and Aquinas just Jesusified all their stuff anyways.) I guess that’s when I knew… I’m not really meant for this whole theology thing. I mean, I’ve been suspecting it for a while, but now I’m sure.
So, what do I love to do? What do I find fun?
Greek. Greek history, Greek language, Greek culture, Greek art, Greek literature. I could enjoy reading Homer in Greek every day for the rest of my life. And then, there’s Xenephon and Plato and Pindar… I could live off them for eternity.
And there’s Spanish. Spanish music, literature, art, food. The way my best friend’s mom’s voice sounds when she’s whispering Spanish to her father in the kitchen before Hannah and I wake up in the morning after a sleepover. The way my aunt’s voice sounds when she sings Spanish in her band, so full, so alive.
I love writing. I love creating. I love painting. I love calligraphy. I love random crafts and sewing. I love shoveling manure and gardening.
And of course, there’s literature. Dostoyevsky, Austen, Tolkien, Melville. To be perfectly honest, I got more pleasure out of Moby Dick than I will ever get out of The Summa or any papal writing.
I did love The Confessions. Of course, it took me three times to love it, but I do. And I love The Catechism (which, I know, is a little weird). But all this lofty theology is above my head, and far away from my heart. I love that which relates God to real life, to the concrete, to the physical instead of just the spiritual. I love Catholic Social Teaching. I love prayer, but not the repetitive kind, the kind that actually enables conversation, conversion, change. I don’t watch Jesus movies. I didn’t really enjoy Bella. I wasn’t pleased by the ending. But movies like The Human Experience, The Way, and October Baby (thanks, Amy, for taking me) get me in my core.
I have one summer left at Notre Dame and I’m nervous about getting through it, plus getting through my comps. I know I can do it, God wouldn’t have put me here otherwise, but it’s not my passion and I have a definite need to live out my passion. I still haven’t figured out how to do that or how to get from here, in grad school and working as a campus minister, to where I want to be, at a retreat center with Molly, living out simplicity, community, prayer, and service. What I do know is that I still carry my Greek textbook with me to work and back everyday, even if I don’t open it for a week at a time. What I do know is that I can’t concentrate enough on my schoolwork to read a whole (relatively short) encyclical in one sitting without massive amounts of tea and prodding and trying to keep myself from looking at craft ideas on pinterest.
That’s where I am right now. Pray for me.