I recently returned from a teaching stint in Europe, and this morning I was thinking about a small incident that prompted some Gospel-related thoughts … not about war. Two of my children and I were traveling from Bath to London, and we decided to take the scenic route, which allowed us to stop at Stonehenge on the way. We were all quite enamored with the ancient structure, which I found oddly inspiring. My children (ages 10 and 8) listened intently to their self-guided tour recordings and asked interesting questions. They were genuinely engaged.
Ten minutes after leaving Stonehenge, still traveling in the lovely English countryside, my son (the 8-year-old) remarked, “I’m bored.” This was a fairly regular occurrence during our three weeks in Europe, and in many instances, I was sympathetic. In this case, however, I tried to ignore his implied plea for assistance. We had just seen Stonehenge and we would be in London soon, which should solve any problems with boredom … for a little while.
As we drove further along those country roads and I reflected on my son’s impatience, I realized that he was emulating his father — not in saying “I’m bored,” but in being easily bored. It occurred to me that much of my life involves a search for new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences are to be found in traveling to new places, but they might also be found in reading a new book, finding a new friend, trying a new food, or discovering a new angle on a thorny legal issue. Like a marathon runner addicted to the runner’s high, I am addicted to the high that comes from learning something new.
Of course, we live in an age when such an addiction is easily fed. Technological advances have brought everything in the world closer, and I am feeding at the trough. But I have begun to wonder whether this search for new experiences is altogether good.
Implicit in the search is an acknowledgement that the status quo is inadequate. While it is hard to see the harm in experimenting with a new cheese, experimenting with a new sexual partner is more problematic. My point is that adventurousness may be a world view that is hard to contain. People who object to Times & Seasons perceive this problem. While many of us who frequent these halls have sympathy for Kristine’s notions about “joys and the redemptive possibilities of intellectual engagement” with the Gospel, conscientious objectors see the specter of intellectual apostacy.
All of this is my very roundabout way of saying that I sometimes wish I were more content with the mundane. And I worry about saddling my children with the burdens that accompany my addiction.