….Without God Secular Vision for a Changing World (Exercise #4)

After a long summer break, we continue our series of thought exercises that provide a forum to share with each other and the world the richness of the human experience that is achieved without an appeal to supernatural beliefs. Exercises #1-3 can be found here.

Exercise #4: What was the best day of your life?…the worst?

At a meeting of a Rutgers student group, I asked each participant to describe the best day or at least a very good time in their lives. One especially moving story was about how attending a Christian camp when he was seventeen had turned a young man’s life away from drugs.

I talked about a day when I was twenty-five years old. At the time, I was completing my MA degree in theatre at the University of Pittsburgh. I had realized that my real passion was for performance, being able to tell an important story on stage. So I applied to MFA acting programs for the following year, including one in Sarasota, Florida, sponsored by Florida State University. The day before, I had flown down, rented a car, and prepared for my acting audition scheduled for the next morning.

The training here would be ideal. The program was affiliated with the Asolo Repertory Theatre that had a professional company, so students got to play roles alongside experienced actors while also taking classes.

I hardly slept the night before the audition. In the morning I tried to quiet my nerves, thinking to myself, “What will be, will be.” There were two people sitting in the dark theatre evaluating me. When I was done they asked a few general questions, not tipping their hands about what they thought. I returned to my motel room exhausted and slept most of the afternoon.

Then the evening was mine. I had done what I’d come to do. My fate would reveal itself in time. My return flight was the next day. I was free. So I went for a quiet dinner at a small Italian restaurant. After that I drove down to a beach on the Gulf of Mexico where I listened to the surf and watched the sun set while puffing on a cigar. I was as relaxed as I’d ever felt, simply enjoying the world through my senses after having worked so hard to further my dream for the future. I don’t think I’ve ever again felt as calm and happy.

Talking about peak experiences can help identify what sustains us. Please tell us the story of a really good day in your life…or a bad moment, and why it was so powerful.