Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Something missing?

Not a bad place to be stopped

I got stopped the other day whilst walking through Hyde Park.  Some guy said “hi” whilst I was walking past him.  I was daydreaming at the time so it took me a second or two to actually stop, turn around and say “hi” back.  He then introduced himself and why he decided to stop me.  He was a middle aged man with dark frizzy hair that was short at the front and sides but long at the back.  He looked quite friendly, although he generally had a weathered looking face, rough hands and somewhat untidy clothes that made him look very poor.  He had these brilliant blue eyes, though one of them was bloodshot.

At first, I thought he was going to ask me for money, but it turned out he was actually a devote Christian who was going around spreading the word of God.  He asked me what I was doing, what my story was and what I thought about doing in the future.  I told him I was a traveller and that I wanted to see the world.  He started off by saying that there was “nothing wrong with that” and that is was a “good thing for young people to do”, but he did then start to criticise my choice of life.

He said “people who travel, are travelling because they are not content with their life’s and they are searching for something to fill their life’s” or he said something on those lines.  He then continued “perhaps what you should be looking for is more spiritual enlightenment, rather than physical”.  He then went on to quote some passes from the bible (even though at the start he promised he wouldn’t) and talk about his life and how he got involved with God.

The content life

I supposed some of what he was saying was true.  If I was completely content with my life in England I wouldn’t have come all the way out here to Australia.  Maybe I am searching for something?  But what is a content life?  Some people might say England is the best country in the world to live in, others may say Australia is, but you couldn’t possibly say anything like that if you haven’t tried to live in every other country.  

I read in a book somewhere about this theory called “learned happiness” which is the theory about people (and animals) becoming content with their surroundings.  The example the book gave was about this zoo that owned a bear.  At the start the bear lived in a small cage.  The zoo didn’t want this for the bear so they raised money and in the end managed to create a large enclosure for the bear with rocks, trees and even a waterfall.  And what happened to the bear when they introduced him into his new enclosure?  He stayed in an area that was the same size of his small cage until the day he died; because that was the area the bear had become content with.  

So I guess what I am trying to say is you shouldn’t be afraid of what is not familiar.  The same book also gave me a quote, that “uncertainty is the key to a satisfying life”.  If everything in life was certain and there were never any surprises, then life would quickly become dull (for me it would anyway).

Student of the world

Another thing the religious dude said to me that I disagreed with was the fact that he disapproved of me travelling and seeing the world, instead he recommended that I should consider doing more spiritual exploration rather than global exploration.  And maybe I should be open minded to the more spiritual exploration.  But my counter-argument I wanted to say to him was “if God created the world, then I want to see as much of it as I can, and surely God would be happy that I am taking such an interest in his creation”.  I didn’t say any of this to the dude, I wish I did but I was getting a bit impatient of his recited bible verses and I wanted to end the conversation.  I was just walking home and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to have a deep intellectual conversation about religion and my choice of life style.

So I told him that I needed to head off and I would “think about things”.  He gave me a little booklet to read that contained yet more bible verses, we then shook hands and went our separate ways.

Overall I don’t mind being stopped by people like this.  I am always interested to hear people’s stories and opinions, but maybe not quite on a Sunday afternoon when I have a mild hangover.

Some bedtime reading, courtesy of the Jesus People.

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