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Travels around her future: venturing onto the high seas of Real Life.

As I stood in the bow of my boat and looked wide-eyed towards the land of Real Life, it left me breathless. I had heard of this world for a long time and its shadow had loomed over me throughout my undergraduate years and high school activities. But now it was within sight, yet still felt so far away, and it rose darkly through a thick mist which obscured its features.

Doubtless you have heard rumours about Real Life; its reputation inevitably precedes it. The land is a dangerous, worrisome place full of career paths, bills, taxes, car insurance, house insurance, life insurance, mortgages, downsizing and (perhaps most terrible for all of us who pursue higher education when its shores first come into view) student loan repayments. Yet it has its wonders too, or so I'm told, although many of them seem to be less certain than their unpleasant counterparts. Marriage and parenthood, in particular, seem to occupy some grey area between wonder and worry, but often they are lumped in with the former which is encouraging to all who seek such experiences.

The land itself is governed by a benevolent King who, despite His genuine desire to bring help and not harm (Jer. 29:11), has a penchant for surprises (Matt 24:36; Mark 13:32; Luke 17:26) and counterintuitive ways of enacting His will (see entire Bible). His methods prove somewhat problematic for the citizens of His Kingdom and, indeed, they are a source of frustration for newcomers to Real Life. Fortunately, such newcomers soon realize that the King of Real Life is the same enigmatic King who has governed them since birth. This is a consolation to most, but it does not diminish questions about what the strange new land has in store for its denizens.

As I planned for my eventual trip to this mythic land I was often advised to stock up on credentials. These, it seems, are like gold in Real Life. It is not enough for my generation of explorers to have a degree in their pocket and the world at their feet. Rather, one must have a degree, an impressive resume and plenty of extracurricular activities. One must plan ahead. Indeed, fellow adventurers, such advice is warranted as these credentials are most useful when navigating the treacherous terrain of Real Life.

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As I worked towards my eventual voyage, I often exhausted myself with many involvements. Classes, essays, a part-time job, a place on the editorial board of an undergraduate journal, a vice-presidency of a campus club, membership in various other clubs, a role on the executive of the Presbyterian Young People's Society.... I never had time for rest, it seemed, and still I looked for things which might look good on a resume or an application for graduate school. And the risk I ran (indeed, the risk I still run, as there is still a year between my boat and that mist-covered shore) was to focus forever on the future and forget where I was and what I was doing. I was doing things for the credentials they would give me, not for their own sake. And in doing so, I fear I have missed a wonderful part of the journey. My activities became chores, not involvements which excited me and brought out my creativity. And the loss of creativity is a great loss indeed. And so, fellow explorers, may I offer another piece of advice. Plan for your arrival, but do not miss the journey, for by looking ever ahead much beauty passes us by unawares.

I shall leave you with a last rumour, interesting and unverified by myself. Apparently, somewhere in Real Life flows a river around an island called Some Day. This mythic shore is captured wonderfully by L. M. Montgomery, and as I have seen only glimpses of the place she writes of, I shall say little of it here. Apparently it is a beautiful, enchanting place, and I would very much like to see it. But the path is elusive, or so I have read, and thus if anyone knows the way, I ask that you tell it to me. For, despite my journeys thus far, I mistrust my sense of direction. I fear I always will. Perhaps, as I travel Real Life in the years to come, I will spy that isle--if only at a distance--for I have yet to meet one who has reached its shores.

Connie Purvis is a member of Westview, Toronto. She is a communications director for the CNOB PYPS.
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Title Annotation:YOUTH FEATURE
Author:Purvis, Connie
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:761
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