I've tried three or four times to blog this week. I've tried to talk about funny things I've heard or seen. I've tried to post something thoughtful and meaningful about observations of my life and others'. I've really wanted to produce some good content for you. (I've started the last four--five!--sentences with the word "I've.")
But something keeps getting in the way. I get in my own way. And it all gets jumbled before I can get it typed out. So I'm going to try a little something fun. I'm setting my iTunes to "shuffle" and will post short items on sundry subjects that the song and/or title alludes to, references, or somehow reminds me of. Maybe I can shake out the cobwebs that way, so that I'll be able to actually say something useful again.
So here we go.
[1) "Long Live Rock and Roll," Steel Dragon]
Kelly made me very happy this past week, by sending me two burned CDs that I have been interested in. One of them is Volume 2 of "The Legend of Johnny Cash" (worth the price of admission for his cover of Petty's "I Won't Back Down" alone). The other album was the first and clearly only release by the band "Rockstar Supernova." Yes, that's right; the band composed of used-up former rockers and a wannabe-punk frontman.
As I expected: Almost all of the decent tracks on the album (of which there are maybe 5) were already released on the show, save one, which means there were almost no surprises. The rest of the tracks--snoresville.
What I didn't expect: While more than half of the album is instantly forgettable, the decent tracks are actually pretty good. A few of them are even mixtape-worthy good. Maybe not "ultimate mixtape" fodder, but worth sticking in someone else's ear. A pleasant surprise.
[2) "You Never Give Me Your Money," The Beatles]
This week, I caught myself slipping back into the generous-but-frivolous phase, financially. I like picking up the check, buying presents. I show love that way. But I really need to reign that in for the time being. God has been providing for me so much lately, that I want to store up the goods from these "seven years of plenty," in case there's a "seven years of famine" around the corner. I want to be a good steward of the undeserved resources I've been handed.
So this year is the year of getting out of a good bit of my debt. Goal by the end of the year? No more credit card, no more car note. Only owing on my student loans.
(By the way, I can testify to a truth of Scripture: one of the only "resolutions" from 2006 that I kept was to tithe faithfully to my church. [This is not to brag, so don't get the wrong idea--hear me out.] God responded to my obedience by providing for my needs and then some. Something to the effect of "opening the windows of heaven" and all that. So, here's a tip for you who doubt: He can be trusted. He is a good and faithful God.)
[3) "Hotel Song," Regina Spektor]
I'm trying to decide on what I want to do as far as summer travel. There is an opportunity that may open up in July in Missouri, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that progresses. Otherwise, I think I may take a trip through the Southeast. Just me and my truck, plowing through the Gulf States. I may shoot all the way to the coast, and then loop back through Memphis and Nashvegas. That may be cool. I'm still deciding.
It will be a little weird, though. My family is vacationing west. Reliving the happily-remembered Grand Canyon vacation of my youth. And I'll likely be heading in the opposite direction at the same time. Which means I won't be able to have them fly in if I need help. It'll just be me and the sovereignty of God. That may be a good experience, now that I think of it.
That may sound weird to the more independent of you. But I'm very tightly-knit to my family. So it would be a little weird to be that untethered.
[3) "Nookie/Break Stuff," Richard Cheese]
Wow. Um, okay...
I have a bit of an anger problem. You may not know that about me, even those of you who know me personally. But I do. I fume. I growl. I mutter. I'm especially bad in traffic. While I don't actually flip people "the bird" (at least, not where they can see it), I do yell and wave my arms in a less-than-affable manner.
Last weekend, I was at a four-way stop. It was clearly my turn, and I started making a left. Though I was already halfway into the four-lane, boulevarded intersection, this idiot across from me suddenly barreled through. I honked and lifted up the back of my hands to him, in a "What are you, some kind of moron?" sort of motion. He responded in turn, face twisted and angry. I completed my turn and headed on, but I watched the rearview mirror just in case he turned around and wanted to discuss traffic flow patterns with me further.
Then the thought hit me. Did I look that way to him, too--so furious and dark-eyed? Is he checking his mirror for me now? I thought I saw kids in the car--will he take his frustration with me out on them? Will it affect or distract his driving?
Probably not. Possibly not. But I should have thought of that sooner.
Was my anger, my "right-of-way," worth feeling that way, or making someone else feel that way? No.
Mark Driscoll said once that what makes us frustrated sometimes reveals our idols. For example, when someone cuts us off on the road, and we get angry and lash out, it's because we feel they've somehow disrespected us, and we worship respect.
Makes me think. More importantly, it makes me want to be a little more humble at intersections.
[4) "Glass Onion," The Beatles]
I sometimes make an effort to try to soak up sensory experience. It's a big deal for me. I realized one day that God didn't have to make things as vivid and enjoyable as he did. The smell of fresh air. Tastes. Sounds. The feeling of breeze on skin. The smell of cold. There is so much to soak up every day, so much we take for granted, when everything good is a gift. We walk through the world receiving countless sensations that we pass over without stopping every once in a while to say, "This moment, this feeling, this experience is good."
Even the burning of my leg muscles after yesterday's overdone workout is good. The stiffness and soreness that has me hobbling around like a decrepit, old man. It's good. Because it means my legs function and feel. Muscles are being torn down and rebuilt. I did something good yesterday that will make be better through the pain.
I think that's something akin to ol' father Israel rejoicing as he leaned on his crutch. The soreness of his hip reminded him of something miraculous.
[5) "Interstate Love Song," Stone Temple Pilots]
I was talking with a friend on Sunday and she (a single woman just turned 30) asked me, "So, any girls in your life?" And oddly, I didn't know how to answer. Not because there has been any great change in status--don't get excited. But it made me stop and think if there were even the prospect of any girls in my life. And the answer is no. There's only one girl I can think of from the past few months that I even thought about asking out, but I didn't do it because she's not a believer. That's a big deal for me. So I thought it better to just be her friend, and maybe introduce the God subject eventually. (As it turned out, I lost touch with her completely.)
When it comes to one's single status, other people (usually marrieds) always use the stock answers like "stop looking and it'll happen" or "just focus on God." Which can be and is good advice, respectively. And I myself have talked about "working on me" and "trying to be the kind of guy a woman of quality would look for."
But if that's my focus, isn't that as selfish as not "working on me"? Can I become so "working-on-me"-focused, so convinced that there's so much of me that needs to change, that I've passed on any hope of relationship because I didn't feel worthy or ready? As if I expected to be close to perfect before I even begin a relationship with someone.
I've been listening to a podcast sermon series by Mark Driscoll (yes, that's two mentions) on the book of Ruth (don't laugh, Chris). And something he said today got my attention. In talking about Boaz's response to Ruth's matrimonial overtures, he said that Boaz seems a bit surprised, and saw her attentions as a kindness because she didn't go after a younger guy. Basically, the idea that while he was interested in her, he might not have thought she'd be interested in him. Or, in Driscoll's words, "he may have thought she was out of his league."
I'm not a Boaz (not even close), but I have to ask myself, should I stop trying to be perfect and just work on being, you know, a better me? Maybe the answer is an obvious "yes." But the follow-through is so much trickier. It's easier to hide behind the "I need to fix myself" excuse than to risk having a relationship where I would have to actually reveal my many flaws.
Well, that was fun. Let's try it again sometime, shall we?