Deep Breaths

“The future’s another country, man… And I still ain’t got a passport.” –Zadie Smith

I would not seriously consider stopping time right here, but I do sometimes allow myself to entertain the fancy.

Everyone wants to talk about the future–everyone wants to know what your future is, what your plans may be, where you’re going and what they’ll be watching for on the Facebook in a year or five as you chip away at your marble and fashion your dreams out of it.

I ask him what I should write about, and he says, “The future.” I say, “But I don’t know what that is yet.” I can’t see his face, but I imagine a knowing smile inches onto his face. None of us know yet, it would say to me if he were here.

This is the part they don’t tell you about in the college brochures, but what I’m saying is that it might read like this: “Spend a few months falling in love with new surroundings and people and ideas; spend a few years being in love with them; spend the last one desperately trying to cope with letting go while figuring out your next adventure.” Sign me up! Wait, ouch, it hurts. Wait, I can’t see. Wait, it’s so foggy.

I say this back to him: “My future is summed up in one line: I don’t know, but I’m trusting the Lord.” “I know,” he says. He’s been visiting more colleges, and we’ve been talking dreams, and we’re just not sure. It’s the uncanny that throws me off, this ridiculous state of mind that leaves everything swirly, with no plans whatsoever. Why, I haven’t the foggiest notion where I’ll be living in a year, or what I’ll be doing, or how many coffee shops I’ll call home. All I know, see, are the shops I know now; the faces that are mine here. The future seems a grizzly bear in the forest I’m not ready to meet.

Or is it? Amidst the thoughts of grad schools, long-distance dating, and far-away friends lies the reminder that this was once the future, and that it’s less of a grizzly bear and more of a wildflower field. I think I may have told you, but I’ll tell you again. I only cried once when my parents brought me to college–it was as I stood in the parking lot of my dorm, watching them drive away, and unable to unroot and go inside to the world that had just sprung up before me. They were everything I knew, or they held pieces of it, and they were taking it all back home with them. I sobbed, and eventually turned, shaking, and went inside to discover what’s become the most terrific life I could have dreamt up.

Don’t think I don’t know that God is all about making it happen again. A dear teacher (one of those ones who wields life-changing force in her words) told me in high school that you should expect every year to be better than the last; with that attitude, she said, it almost always will, and if it isn’t, then the next year’s got a pretty good chance. I’m with her. The future holds more possibility than I know what to do with, and it does call me to release my grasp on the here to prepare to receive it.

But it also nudges me to experience the absolute fullness of the brightness in this season, and there is a lot. That’s what I’ve been saying. I mean, there is living in the same country as my boyfriend, which will change soon. There is spending the night with my best friend, who’s a mere ten minutes down the road, which will change soon. There’s paying for my coffee with school-issued dining dollars, which will change soon. There’s the bench-napping that’s mostly socially acceptable now, but that might change soon (fingers crossed bench-napping never goes out of style.) There’s living with my roommates, which I eventually won’t. There’s a lot right now to which I can hold, but I hear the whispers:

“Don’t hold too tight.”

The future, it’s coming for us. We can shake and squirm and squint, but it will focus before us nonetheless. But as I look around me, I know that there is value in holding on, in soaking up, in allowing things to be hazy first. And, as always, Jesus teaches me how to trust Him; I learn to trust with the little things, and then, it seems more effortless to let go of all of it–past, present, and future–and give it up.

As for today, I breathe it in. As for the future, I don’t know. As for this moment and the next,  I’m trusting the Lord.


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