I have been upset by a phone bill that I thought was misquoted. My day has been ruined because I tried to follow rabbits down the cable company’s rabbit hole of a billing statement. My wife and I have exchange the gift of a beautiful weekend for the less satisfying hurling of insults and offerings of ways the other should change. I have given countless hours to preachers who wield a sacred text and use it only to inadequately prove preconceived points. More than once, I have ignored creation’s glorious whisper to blindly pay more attention to the very loud voice of my own discontent.
Nearly fifty years on this earth and what have I learned? The answer for me is simple. Very, and I mean, very, little. I have noticed more than I have learned. I have had more opportunity to take a lesson away, than I have tucked a lesson away. My suspicion is that my experiences are unique in some ways, and that I am like everyone else in other ways. Here is one memory that was available to the world, though it certainly is my own.
1982. The world came to my hometown. Dad and I walked the fairgrounds and paused to read histories of various technology that were posted. My mind wandered to the lasers. While my father was enthralled by the development of the steam engine, the quarters in my pocket were burning a hole with the intent of finding an arcade game, the more lasers the better. And at the end of the day, in the darkness of a night that fell in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, there were more lasers. They were launched into the sky and also were used to write messages and draw pictures on a large backdrop positioned for all to see.
There was, and is, for me, something about lasers. Carrying both energy and light in a focused beam. Is that the same thing? I am not a scientist. They say those lasers that were launched nearly forty years ago are still traveling through space. Now you can get a free laser generator/pointer at Harbor Freight with any purchase. Focused light. Maybe it was Buck Rogers or Star Wars that made me enthralled by a laser. We all have to have something by which we are enthralled. Light is eternal. That is what I took away.
I am also fascinated by the simple radio signal. Satellite signals. Microwave signals. Bluetooth signals. Wireless data signals. And even the good old television signal. If you are old enough, you might remember the Gilligan’s Island episode where one of the crew on the three hour tour began receiving a radio signal on the filling of their tooth. This always fascinated me. That, as well as how great everyone looked after so many years of being stranded on a deserted island, always impressed me.
Perhaps foolishly, I wonder if we are not cramming our atmosphere with so much “crap” that it is bothersome to the Creator. If anyone, or anything, would have a filling that might receive every signal we pump out, it is the Creator. As a college student, I would leave my music playing as I left the house, thinking that it was somehow pleasing to God, even if I was not able to enjoy it at the time. Later, when I took up smoking, I would always offer the first cigarette in a new pack, letting it “smoke itself”, to the Creator, as a thanks for the other nineteen. Long story short, I have always been weird.
These days, a kindness is what I offer as a thanks. The music I leave playing is what people might say after they have experienced me for a time. And as far as the “crap” that I throw into the atmosphere? I try to make it gratitude rather than pissing and moaning. That is harder than it seems, even though there are so many things to be thankful for, and so little to be upset over.
Days go by with more satisfaction if they are spent being thankful for the seemingly little things than they would if they are spent creating, in my mind, possible reactions to possible offenses. Again, this is not as easy as it sounds. It is on one hand serious business, and on the other hand, the simplest of things. There are no secrets. There is only grace, gratitude, and possibility. We need offer grace to others and ourselves. We need offer gratitude for what we know and what we are yet to know. And as for possibility? We should offer others and ourselves, especially in the beginning, even the possibility that there are other possibilities.
People seem interested these days about how many people read these blogs. There is a bit of a buzz about how many more could read the blogs. With each blog I write, my hope is that one person reads what I write. One that needs some encouragement. One that needs to forget about the trouble that life sometimes brings. One that might need to find a joy rather than magnify that trouble. I cannot be happy for you, just as you cannot be happy for me, but we can always encourage one another. This is the reason I write the blog. Who reads it is really not up to me after I jot a few lines down.
My hope is that in the years to come, my wife might read them again and understand why, when she rolls over at 3:30 in the morning, might find I am not there. That my son might read them and understand why we walk together in the evenings after I have walked alone in the mornings. That my friends and those I work with, though they are not mutually exclusive, will notice the method to the madness of my telling a silly joke, while also expressing the need to get a thing done.
One of the proudest moments, as a son, was hearing my father sum up the blog, as “you are offering people something happy to think about rather than all of the negativity that is so easy to find”. And this is true for me. It is not that I have it figured out, or that I can figure things out for others, but it is that I am happy in the not knowing. And if I can tell anyone, anything, it is that you better get happy in the not knowing. Life can prove to you at any moment, in a very short time, that you do not know what you might believe you know. This is made easier if you are happy with not knowing.
You, like a laser, or light, are eternal. You like a laser, can be used for good or ill intentions. But you, young man or young miss, are what the world needs today. Regardless of the location or size of your world. Keep your goodness in mind. Place wonder in front of knowing. Be the peace for others that you wish for yourself. And be happy, not for what you know, but for all the things you have yet to learn.