Saturday, July 19, 2014

Not Fit for Human Interactions

Today, I think, I’m a terrible human being.

Not fit for human interactions.

I broke into my pastor’s locked office.

And that was just the first, and relatively insignificant, breach I committed.

See, a friend of mine works at the church. And she was cleaning the office building. And I was hanging with her because I’ll be leaving soon and I wanted to enjoy her presence.

She’s in seminary and has a paper due tomorrow and she needed resources. She needed books. She thought the pastor just might have something she could use. She needed Rauschenbusch and she couldn’t get him anywhere else.

“I really wish the pastor’s office wasn’t locked,” she said to me as she looked forlornly at the double French doors which separate his private office from the group study room. She turned back to her dusting.

I glanced over at the doors myself and noted several things:

* The French doors lack an astragal
* The latch barely engages the strike plate
* The secondary door has auxiliary head and footbolts applied
* Only the headbolt was engaged

‘Puzzle solved,’ I thought, as I disengaged the headbolt, providing enough play that the latch and strike no longer engaged at all. Both doors swung open smoothly.

“What did you do!?” my friend exclaimed with delight.

“To be clear,” I told her sternly, “my intent was NOT to break into the pastor’s office and violate the sanctity of his private space. I just did it because I could.”

My friend made a thorough search of all the books in the office. Rauschenbusch was not to be found. My breach didn’t even net a positive result for her.

I’m awful.

Things only got worse from there.

I just like to know stuff.

Really. That’s it. That’s what gets me totally jazzed in life. Even if it’s information about stuff I don’t necessarily care for. Knowing stuff just makes me happy. Sometimes, knowing stuff, changes my life. In the smallest and seemingly most insignificant ways imaginable. I learn something new and it opens up a world I could never have accessed prior. Even if I never find a home in that new place, just knowing that I can appreciate something that was completely foreign and off-putting moments before is kind of awesome.

Example: I’m not a huge fan of music. There are a lot of really good reasons for this, none of which I’ll go into here. But I enjoy reading about music. Now, there are some genres of music I simply despise. Most I’ll tolerate. One, however, just rubbed me wrong up one side and down the other.

Jazz.

See, whereas I have a trauma response to heavy metal and drums - snare drums in particular, jazz used to sound like just a bunch of really confusing noise that didn’t make any sense to me at all. I didn’t understand it. When I happened to be in a place where it was playing in the background, it was okay. Until the musician started all that weird improvisational stuff. That just sounded like a lot of discordant noise to me.

Until I read a book about how the human brain processes music (This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, by Daniel J. Levitin). Levitin wrote that improvisation in jazz is always done from the base melody. It’s a playful way to step out of the comfort zone of the written notes while staying within the basic principles laid out by the melody.

I went out and bought a jazz album on CD and listened to it. There it was. I could hear the melody which was the baseline and support system of the improvisation. Suddenly, this foreign, unpleasant, sometimes painful noise became a beautiful weaving of playful sounds. Listening to jazz became a bit like watching a yo-yo guru. All the tricks and magic to delight the eye as the yo-yo spins and flips and moves about in the air, but always linked and always returning to the hands of the one who holds the string.

I just like knowing stuff. Sometimes, it enhances my life by allowing me access to experiencing things in new and appreciable ways, like Jazz.

Sometimes, it enhances my life simply because I have something, some bit of knowledge or information, I didn’t have before. And I really like collecting information. I just like knowing stuff.

Onto my second breach today.

I had been perusing some information and happened upon an accidental. Something that probably shouldn’t have been where it was. Something that made me pause and go, “Hmm.” Then, I moved on and forgot all about it.

Until I got home this evening. What I had seen earlier in the day came back to me and I thought, “I wonder if I can solve this puzzle.”

Thirty seconds later and a whole new world had opened up before me.

And I’m pretty sure it was a huge breach. I’m pretty sure this is a violation. Epic violation. I’m pretty sure it falls in the category of unforgivable sins. I’m pretty sure I messed this one up big time.

I never do much of anything with information I collect. I never do anything at all with confidential information, unless I’m legally required, as a mandatory reporter, to share that information with the appropriate authorities. I just really like knowing stuff.

Once, about 12 years ago, I found an abandoned journal and looked in the front cover to discover the owner’s name in the hopes of returning it. It was unmarked. I began to flip through at random seeking some identifying anything. About fifteen pages in, I happened upon an entry in which the author mentioned someone in his office who shared the same name. The author referred to himself as “The other …” Puzzle solved. I could return the journal.

I read the whole thing cover to cover, over a hundred pages of private, personal, intimate word-vomit.

“How did you know this was mine?” he asked as I returned it. “I’ve never put my name in it…”

“Well,” I said, suddenly feeling a bit warm with discomfort. “I mean, there as nothing on the inside cover or first page or anything, but I was kind of flipping through thinking there might some identifying information and then, you know, pretty close to the beginning, you recount this tale, and…”

“I’m incredibly grateful you returned this me,” he said. “If you don’t mind my asking, did you stop reading once you had figured out it belonged to me.”

I swallowed hard. “Ummm, no,” I told him honestly, beginning to sweat in fear and shame. “I read the whole thing. Cover to cover.”

“I see. And why,” he asked gently, “would you do that?”

“Because it was a rare opportunity to take a peek into the life of another person, to know … something more.”

“And what do you plan to do with the information you obtained in reading this,” he asked.

“Absolutely nothing.” And I never have. I never will. I just like knowing.

But today, my obsessive need to know and the ease with which I gained the information I sought leaves me feeling like a spectacularly vile person.

There isn’t enough water or grace in the world to wash away the stain of this sin.

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