I keep editing this and editing this, and I still haven't decided whether I'm going to actually post it (though I guess if you're reading this you can guess what I decided). This is far and away the most personal thing I've ever written for public consumption, and it's really kind of pathetic when you come right down to it. The single thing that stands out the most in my mind from the GCN conference wasn't terribly spiritual, or even directly tied to the conference.
During the conference people would quite frequently split off into groups to do various things. On this particular day (as on the other days, I suppose) I was at lunch with several other GCNers. Right at the end of the meal I started talking to this one really cute guy, when suddenly he paused, looked directly at me and said, "You have the most beautiful eyes."
Fortunately I was already sitting down. I've had women - some of them quite attractive - pay me compliments before, but while I appreciated the gesture there was never anything even close to the electrical surge that shot through me at that moment. I managed to blurt out a moderately stunned "thank you," but aside from that my deer-in-headlights reaction was the last impression I gave him as our respective groups parted ways.
I didn't run into him again until late that evening, which gave me plenty of time to convince myself that he was just making a casual observation (he is younger than me, so he can undoubtedly do a lot better) - not that that stopped me from spending the rest of the day slightly out of focus as everything from our first date to our house in the suburbs to our stint on the Amazing Race flashed repeatedly before my eyes.
Such a silly, fleeting thing - and yet in that moment I understood things that had never fully made sense to me before. I understood, to a degree I never had before, why my straight friends could act like such idiots around a pretty girl, and why they'd drop off the face of the earth once they'd found one who liked them back.
I understood what would cause a husband (or wife) to get insanely jealous when somebody else tried to hit on their spouse. And I understood how someone could fall into the trap of promiscuity in a desperate attempt to regain that incredible feeling. Not that I'd even try to equate what I experienced in that moment with love (I know there's a lot more to love than a moment's excitement), but it couldn't be reduced to lust, either.
It also occurred to me, after the conference, that if I can get that worked up over one little comment, how incredibly powerful must God's feelings for us be. Or at least that was my best effort to make something spiritually profound come out of all those hours of preoccupation.
And all of this came at a time when I was feeling kind of numb inside - not apathetic or depressed, really, but it had been a long time since I had felt anything very strongly. In an instant I was reminded that I am still fully human and in possession of emotions both irrational and powerful enough to sweep me away without warning. I still haven't decided how much I actually like that notion.
I told you it was pathetic. Here I am in my late 30s, experiencing something for the first time that most people experience as teenagers. And here I am, broadcasting that fact to the world where anyone can read it.
Anyone got a large rock? I may need something to crawl under if he ever reads this...