Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gimme the song and I'll sing it like I mean it.

Sitting in the coffeeshop, sipping my peppermint mocha and listening to music, I hear tunes I faintly recognize and like. I know the music is from a CD the mega-chain is currently featuring, a mix of tracks from the hip and upcoming British musical sensations.

I think to myself, "Maybe I should walk over and purchase the album." Then I reproach myself immediately. I have literally hundreds of CDs. I was just thinking earlier about an album I haven't heard in months that I wanted to spin again this evening. I have no business spending money to add more stuff to the pile, when I have other expenses that need attention.

What was it that brought about the urgency to purchase this music at the exorbitant coffee-house prices? I have an idea about this. What I wanted to procure was not really the CD itself, but the feeling that the music gave me. I wanted to own and control that emotional experience, that vibe.

It's like being a new-car addict. What you crave is the fresh feeling of excitement and discovery. However, after you've had the item, whether a car or a CD or whatever gizmo or gadget you crave, it loses its inherent newness, its mystery. It becomes just another CD or car.

So when I had the impulse to buy the 17-dollar disc (plus tax), what I really wanted was to carry the sensation of hearing and enjoying this music home with me. But if I had given in to the impulse, eventually it would just become another CD on the pile.

Being content, among other things, may mean learning to let small joys and pleasures pass through your fingers like water, like air. To enjoy them and release them. To thank God for the song on the radio, and the excitement of driving a new car, or the brief warm or cold front that brings a little weather-related relief. Maybe what I need to learn is to relish the good gifts that are constantly sent my way, and then allow the ones I don't need to keep to slip away, relying on the Giver to be my fulfillment, instead of the gift itself.

So thank you, God, for music and coffee and cold breezes. Help me learn to steward what I own, and give up my need to own everything I want to experience. Help me appreciate the transient gifts You graciously provide, knowing that their briefness only emphasizes and glorifies Your permanence. And teach me to trust that I don't have to hoard life to enjoy it.

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