The truth is, I was jealous.
I was watching a nature show about lions in Africa. It was an amazing production following a lion’s life from birth through adulthood. I watched the lion as a cub rolling in the grass, wrestling with his siblings, pouncing on his father, being groomed by his mother. As the cub got older, I watched him on his initial hunts—finding some success but mostly failure. In later life, he found a mate and had his own cubs. His days consisted of guiltlessly resting in the shade in the heat of the day, confidently hunting for food, and valiantly defending his family from predators. Something about the simple clarity of his life and his sense of “being”—untouched by the nagging questions of “who am I?” and “what should I be doing with my life?”—stirred something along the lines of jealousy in me. It wasn’t necessarily a simple life I wanted, but rather his simple clarity. He was just being what he was ... a lion.
Can you relate to my jealousy? You know you’re created to be something, to do something, to contribute something, but it’s so hard to figure out what that something is.
In C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia we read of a great prince imprisoned by a witch’s sorcery. Under her spell, Prince Rilian would lose all recollection of who he was and where he came from—“While I was enchanted I could not remember my true self.”1 During his brief moments of clarity (though the witch told him that those moments were actually times of insanity), the prince would be involuntarily bound to a chair until he would come back into his “right mind,” which he later described as a “heavy, tangled, cold, clammy web of evil magic.”
I believe this is how life feels for most of us; we’re lost in a fog of confusion and dullness with only brief moments of clarity and desire that seem so hard to hold on to. And when we are able to capture those moments that have a ring of authenticity about them, we quickly start to doubt their legitimacy. Could we be under some web of evil magic? Some spell?