The Unbearable Lightness of Themes

By Bailey Bickerstaff


I was talking with a friend a couple of days ago and since we’re teenagers, we settled upon the topic of social media. As it turns out, he is very picky about how his social media sites represent him: he wants a theme to represent his life.

Upon further explanation, I found out that the pictures on his Instagram feed need to exhibit a adventure/ outdoors feel. If the picture doesn’t fit the adventure theme, he won’t share the photo. At first I was skeptical: could a theme really represent someone accurately? As I looked though his feed of pictures, I decided it could- that was truly who he was.

This begged a questioned from my end- mentally, of course. What was my theme? Did I have an overlying idea about my life that defined who I was? I feared I didn’t, and simply for the sake of the organization that I so demanded my thoughts fall into, it bothered me.


The electric pulsing of what seemed like lightning pressed upon my eyelids; I slowly opened my eyes, trying to come out of the fog that follows sleep, still wondering if there were alarms to miss and school to rush for. I lifted my head and looked out our airplane window, almost in disbelief  at how things had changed. Dusk had changed to night while I slept, and when I peered out the window, I saw twinkling lights in all directions. The world spanned out for miles, and the lights from the cars on the street traced a faint pattern, showing where the world was driving.

I looked out at the sky, marveling at how close the twinkling orbs seemed; Polaris looked as if I could touch it, feel the direction in my hand. As the red hazard lights from the tail sporadically cast their warning to the skies on the wings of the plane, I sat in silence, remembering how much I loved the sky and in that, why I liked myself.

It’s a funny thing, our identity. We spend so much time chasing it and fulfilling it, trying to begin to see who we are, but between moments of fulfilled identity, we seem to forget the whole thing exists. When trials occur and people throw our name into question, we forget that we ever established who we were. We forget that we like ourselves.

In the same way, the things that shape our identity we become thankful for. We might not necessarily enjoy the things we experience, but the experience inspires a thankfulness in a way that enjoyable experiences cannot.

I am thankful that running makes me feel like I want to die, because it reminds me that I am aerobically strong enough to run for long periods of time. I am thankful that swimming hurts so much, because I remember that not everyone can move their body in ways that I can. I’m thankful when my friends sass me, because I know that they care enough about me to be silly. I am thankful that my grandparents, my closest friends, died when I was too young to understand, because it drew my parents and me into a loving, close relationship. I’m thankful when I cannot think of anything to write about, because it reminds me that I do not know everything. I’m thankful for all the discipline my parents gave me when I was younger because today, I can see the fruits of their labor.

Sitting under the canopy of the stars that night, I remembered the question that had so bothered me that day of the Instagram conversation. Did I have a theme guiding my life? While I wasn’t certain at the time, I knew what I have. I have family that loves me enough to tell me when I sound stupid, staff writers that tell me when to stop reminding them to turn in their stories, friends that laugh at my lame jokes and say things they know will irritate me. I have a God who has gone to the pits of hell to save me and continues to inspire thoughts of thankfulness in my heart every day.

I do have a theme that guides my life. While it is not as cool as hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro or creating beautiful works of art, I have a theme that jumps out of my Instagram page and seals every photo.

Happiness. A peace that passes understanding. Beautiful colors and places, usually without editing because I truly believe that no part of life deserves a filter. Brokenness, and beauty through the brokenness. A Lord that continually blesses my life. And joy. Pure, clear joy.


From everyone at the Cannon Chronicle to you, the readers, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving filled with family, joy, and peace of the Lord.



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