In the movie Silence of the Lambs, Starling has a conversation with Hannibal Lector who points her to Marcus Aurelius and the idea of first principles—what a thing or person does. In an effort to know Jack, I’ve thought about that recently.
I can’t say I sought out that bit of reflection. It was more like being dropped into it without warning. What prompted this unaccustomed bout of thinking was the feeling of being stretched so thin that I was slowly coming apart. That the situation was of my own making pretty much goes without saying.
I’m not complaining—now. At the time such was not the case. I was editing eight manuscripts, designing ads for the company, maintaining two websites, writing three blogs and a monthly newsletter, taking over the duties of finance officer for a veteran’s organization, teaching a weekly Bible study, and trying to write four books this year. Like a jack of all trades, I was mastering none.
My initial solution was to quit everything except my own writing. I decided writing was my first principle, that it defined me. When asked why I write I have answered “for the same reason I breathe, to stay alive”. That’s true enough. It’s just not the whole picture.
You see, I thought that all those other things were sidelines. I thought I could abandon them, write, and still be me. I was wrong. There are some things that I am simply compelled to do by my true first principle—service to Christ.
If I have too many tasks to do, I am confident that I have them for a reason. They are important to my well-being and the shaping of my life for the time beyond this present world. I still need some convincing that I am doing an adequate job. I do not need convincing to keep slugging it out every day.
In the garden of God, I’m a dandelion. There are better things to be. I suppose there are worse things to be. There is only one thing I can be—the me that God designed.