I’m slowly learning that I have latent authority issues, and I’m even slowlier admitting that that actually just means that I’ve got some surreptitious pride issues. I remember once in my omelet chef days I was sitting on the counter because no one had come for breakfast yet, and the head chef came in and told me that, not only was I never to sit on the counters, but because I had this time, I had to re-sanitize the entire station before proceeding to omelet chef. It was the most obnoxious situation in the world, and I thanked my lucky stars when he left us for a better job two weeks later.

I have had similar reactions to every RA, landlady and manager who has ever checked an apartment I’ve lived in for cleanliness. I swear those people are out to get me.  Everyone in the apartment does their part sub-par, and then I get charged for it. Don’t even get me started on the $5 a day charge until I got that mattress pad. I almost imploded. But I never tell anyone I feel that way. I think it through in my characteristically quiet desperation, and then eventually just let it go. It’s a good thing too, because I realize as I sit back and think, rather than stand up and yell, that I really didn’t do my cleaning well and the mattress pad bit was dually noted in the contract with similarly notated consequences.

Mostly, I guess I just don’t like to be told what to do. The night before I came back to college I sat down and had a soul session with my parents where they described in detail, from their vantage point, how I could improve my year and thereby improve my life. Again, inside, I had the characteristic battle between my desire to be humble, including my respect for my parents’ opinion, and my battering ram of an instinctual refusal to have anyone claim they know what’s best for me. 

Hours later on the plane, I heard these lyrics. “Got some bad news this morning, which in turn made my day.” I secretly hoped that the song was right, and that the constructive criticism that came to me as bad news would somehow sink deep and have the power to make my day-make my life. “When this someone spoke I listened, all of the sudden has less and less to say.” Maybe if just this once I put away my pride and listen, there would be less and less to trim and edit and sculpt and much more to give and add and shape.

The song is called “Who’s Gonna Save my Soul?” by Gnarls Barkley, and the lyrics shouldn’t necessarily have meant what they did to me, but they told me a story about myself that was absolutely essential to me right now. In allusions and lyrics and passing phrases, I’m getting a personal January tutorial on what I need to be about this year, lest it become the winter of my discontent.

I guess I’ve always had this fondness for the funeral settings where someone says “well that old Harry, always was a stubborn mule” or “Jane wouldn’t let anyone help her with anything” and the entire congregation chuckles reflectively as they wipe away a tear. I suppose I’ve just always assumed that at my passing there’d be similar reminiscing on those silly, annoying little quirks that I never worked through, and that at the time of my death finally seem endearing. But why? Why persist in pride and “authority issues” for a century of life-living just for one half-hearted chuckle at a party for me that I won’t even get to attend?

I’ve learned that there’s a reason that we have two ears and only one mouth, and there’s a reason that we can shut that mouth, but the ears always stay open. We are a highly-favored generation of souls, and I’m believing more and more that we were truly preserved to come forth at this time. To listen and be teachable and work and change sounds exhausting, but I can’t imagine the disappointment I’d feel if I got to the other side and saw the divine elect that is my soul and realize that I let her down. Life is feeling more and more tiring, but am I “tired enough to [let] my own soul down?”