Monday, May 28, 2007

It's a Wonderful Life

On Friday I was offered the opportunity to teach Greek drama, Classical mythology and Roman poetry to students in Rome, Greece and Crete. This is a phenomenal opportunity from a career and personal interest perspective. The only catch… it is during the month of July and I would be leaving my family behind.

Recently I blogged about the importance of family. Now I have to choose between my intellectual stand on family and my actual “living out” of my belief. I really want to go… I have a passion for Classical literature and drama. I would be teaching Classical civilization in the greatest classroom imaginable... surrounded by the ancient ruins and artefacts of the Classical world.

I told the Chair of the History Department this morning that I cannot go.

I reasoned from the perspective that---irnonically---I would miss too much if I went to Europe. Some of my colleagues think I am crazy passing up an all-expense-paid trip to Europe, teaching students in the midst of three thousand years of history. I should take advantage of the moment---“carpe diem”---seize the day!

But here is what I would miss if I went: camping with my son at the Pinery; camping with my family at Rock Point; my son’s ninth birthday party; a week visiting my brother and family in North Carolina; a friend’s wedding; family day trips to the beach; family hikes in local conservation; a month reading with my children and waking up in the morning with my wife.

The Latin phrase, “carpe diem” means “seize the day”---make the most out of your time because time is fleeting. “Carpe” was originally a Roman agricultural term, meaning to “pluck” a crop during harvest. I feel I am seizing the day by not leaving my family. Now is the time to be with my daughter and sons and wife. Like a crop at harvest time, these hours and days with my family cannot be reclaimed. No farmer can put off harvest. When harvest time comes, the crop must be "plucked". Likewise, no man can put off the young years of his family. My sons and daughter will eventually grow up and leave home. Now is the time to be with my children, now is the time to visit my brother and my nieces and nephew.

My favourite movie when I was a boy was “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Remember George Bailey’s desire to travel and see the world? Remember how the seemingly mundane things of life held him back? He never made it to Rome or Paris, but he had a wonderful life. It is not just about “duty” to family and friends; it is about living a wonderful life.

The ruins can wait. My family cannot. The ruins will always be there. These precious moments with my children and my wife can never be reclaimed. Carpo diem. I am seizing the day. My life is a wonderful life.


Barbara said...

That, my friend, was lovely. The mundane things of life...yes. They do sometimes feel like they are 'holding me back', except, like you said, for the times I choose to see them as His wonderful life for me, not just duty. Somewhere I read that His yoke is easy and His burden is light...maybe I should be really watching for that reality and training my heart to submit to that truth today. Thanks for being so...Jer-ish.

Jeremy W. Johnston said...

Because we are stubborn people, it takes a great deal of faith to trust that God's design for your life at this given moment is good and right. Just like our first parents, Adam and Eve, we think we know better than God and we want to do it our way. Submitting to His wonderful life for us is nothing short of wonderful… we are fools to think otherwise. Thanks for your comment, and your welcome for being “Jer-ish”… whatever that means… ;)

Kristina Campbell said...

what can I really say? My man and I had a similar (yet decidedly less fantastic option) to discuss just this past week. Does a man who already works 10 hours a day opt for more training on weekends or evenings or does he forfeit to enjoy the simplicity of "home" and all that means for families like ours and the posties.
He has consistently chosen home while restling with the longs hours away he already works ... and we are all grateful and much more secure for it.
I only pray for incredible moments of confirmation for you all in the summer... take the time to erect your stones of remembrance.

Jeremy W. Johnston said...

It is counter-culture to put family ahead of career ambitions. God’s ways are considered foolish by the world we live in. As a result, there is a lot of temptation to believe the world. This morning I was spending time with my daughter and I was reminded how wonderful God’s ways are and what a wonderful gift my family is to me. I am certain I have many more “stones of remembrance” to erect this summer. Thanks for your comment!

your wife..... said...

I am so happy you are staying (as I have said already, but it is worth saying again) It was liberating to my soul to say "yes" I would be willing to let you go. Many times I have said I didn't want you to because I wanted the opportunity as well and was being selfish. I am learning that "love does not seek its own." I also had the assurance that if you did go God would carry me through. Thanks for being such a good father, husband and friend. Laur

Neal Campbell said...

Hee Haw!
I think you just lassoed the moon for Laurie!