Sunday, October 08, 2006

"what do I want?"



So I came to understand something about myself this weekend. I went to the OM Ships alumni reunion here in Seattle this weekend. There were perhaps 30 people there who had all served as volunteers at some point in the past 40 years on board OM ships. For those of you who don't know, back when I was generally over 50% Christian, I spent 2 years (1998-2000) working as a volunteer on board MV Logos II, a ship with an all volunteer crew of 200 people from 40 different nations. The experience was a lot like any human experience--that is to say, a combination of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This morning after breakfast Myles (who, by the way, is another one of the people who has on a couple of occasions has created that lovely space that I spoke of in the George Macdonald post) invited us all to share one or two memories from our time on board the ship. The first two people who spoke shared these lovely, uplifting, encouraging, hopeful memories. I was sitting there trying to decide wether I should A. get up and leave or B. Say something quick. This was because my two strongest memories from LOGOS II are from just before my wife (then girlfriend) Megan and I were rudely and painfully kicked off (read: excommunicated) the ship and sent "home" (whatever the hell that meant at that point). In other words, my prominent memories were (still, after 6 years!) pretty freaking painful and negative. And with my overwhelming horror at fakeness and pictures of reality that are massively tilted towards the positvie etc. (read happy happy joy joy "Jesus took my burdens and he rolled them in the sea, never to remember anymore"), I wasn't coping very well with the idea of sitting there listening to another 10 or 12 or 15 people in a row share their happy happy joy joy memories. Well, gracious Myles noticed my agitation and graciously and very gently urged me to share. So I did--I told them the story. And they responded very graciously, mostly by other people getting up and sharing some of their painful memories and "thankyou, Benjamin, because I wasn't gonna say anything" and from the leaders of the alumni organization "Thankyou, Benjamin, because this is what we were hoping these reunions would be like", and so forth.

However, the second person who responded to me said "so what can we do for you, Benjamin--what are you looking for from us?". To which I responded, at that time, "I'm not looking for anything--I just can't stand unbalanced views of reality.". But afterwards I realized that I was looking for something from them, and what's more, I actually received what I was looking for. And it was that *they* honestly share their stories with me.
This was a lovely realization. My overwhelming dislike of happy happy joy joy is rootedly connected with my enormous need for REAL connection with other people. And when I am in a social setting and feeling (as I *often* do) like I can't stand another minute of all the fakeness and superficiality and positivity, this isn't just a negative/dislike thing, it's a reflection of a hugish desire for a good/like thing. That's me.

5 comments:

Megs said...

Darling Bens, I love you,your honesty, courage, love, strength, and you are such a gift to me, and to everybody at the weekend - one lady came up to me and said to tell you that she hopes the honesty about pain which your story - our story - began continues and creates a revolution throughout om. she said honesty about pain is attractive, and what repels people is not acknowledging pain. Thank you for the healing in my life you were a catalyst for today. and throughout our relationship. i love you so much darling bens!
love megs

Seren Rose said...

Benjamin, you could move to Finland. there everyone is very gloomy and i can't imagine you would ever be condemned to listen to saccarine conversation again.

Benjamin Ady said...

hmmmmm. I have some experience with Finns. The chief engineer on LOGOS II for a while was Finnish--Onni Hytti was his name. He was a very very clever fellow--he could fix anything. But he would spend 2 or 3 minutes explaining to you exactly what he wanted you to do, with a good deal of semi-technical language, in his thickly accented English, and not understanding him was not an option. then he would expect you to go do it. Which made things interesting sometimes...
The thing I noticed on LOGOS II, where there were several Fins, was that when the Finnish women spoke Finnish, it was this beautiful melodic thing which I could sit and listen to (not in direct conversation, mind you, since I didn't understand the *meaning*!) and just enjoy the sound of. But for some reason, when the Finnish men spoke Finnish, it was this clunky, ugly, unbearable thing (again, just talking about the musical *sound* of the language) which I wanted to escape. I noticed that this gender difference was somehow much more pronounced with Finnish than with any other langauge I've heard.
I love the way they have all the doubled consonants and vowels in their names--Saara, Onni. They sound lovely to me when spoken by an English speaker.
Onni Hytti was one crazy tough dude. He went and had four cavities filled with no analgesic. yikes.

Susan Hawkins said...

Hey Ben,

Very interesting reading your Blog...I am Laurel's friend from Toronto by the way!!! I stayed with you for a couple of nights?? Anyway I know its hard to sometimes let go of what happens to us and LIFE is never FAIR!!! But at the same time G-d allows us to go through these circumstances to learn the painful lessons of FORGIVENESS and letting go. I have had to do the same since I too had a very sour departing from OM. And Its constantly in my Face as I live with my parents who are still in OM. But over the last little while I have learned to FORGIVE AND LET GO otherwise it would eat me alive inside!!!

When I came home from OM I contemplated walking away from Christianity but I realised that I had walked too far to go back and Christ knew that and he set people around me to encourage me and allow me to heal just enough to deal...granted it took a few years but Now I know that Life goes on and if I keep it inside and hold onto it It will eat me and I will become bitter and horrible...

So I encourage you...Please just let go of the pain...Let G-d take the time to heal you and mold you the way he want you to be!!! You need to see the good that has come from your time with OM...and you do have a beautiful Gift!!! You have a wonderful family and a wonderful Wife!! Please don't dwell on the negative...

Benjamin Ady said...

Thankyou Susan