Let me first say that this is actually the third installment that I have written in my journey of self-discovery.  However, the 2nd writing delved into a topic that was too personal to share on a public blog, so it was kept confidential with the exception of two of the most influential people in my life.

So, onto the 3rd:

“There’s so much that lies in store and simple things make life worth living.”

-Tedeschi Trucks Band

 

It often amazes me how a small trigger of one of our main senses can instantly take you back in time to a distant place in your life.  Something as simple the smell of a certain scent, the feel of a gentle touch or the taste of a familiar, comforting food can set your mind wandering in search of long forgotten memories.  For me, this usually ends up opening a flood gate of feelings and emotions tied to the remembrance of those treasured times.  Some of these triggers are done intentionally.  For instance, I have a bottle of Brut aftershave that I occasionally wear because it brings back memories of my Grandpa Al.  It was the only cologne that he would ever wear.  More often than not, however, these triggers are completely random and unexpected.

I was working on a project recently to restore some music from a vinyl record and transform it to today’s digital medium.  With the help of a co-worker I was able to find a nice older model turntable, which needed to be cleaned up a bit.  With a little elbow grease and $10 for a new belt, the unit brought back to life and worked flawlessly.  I bought a decent record cleaner to restore the vinyl to its best possible condition and then hooked everything up to my laptop to start recording.

Sitting at a makeshift workspace in my basement, with head phones on, the notes of the music sprang forth with the small pops and crackles that only vinyl records can produce.  Those pops of the vinyl as the needle glided across the album, not the music itself, immediately brought back many memories of one of my favorite times from my childhood.   For much of my childhood, my father worked the night shift, which often left my mom at home with my sister and me in the evenings.  One of our favorite family activities was to turn out all the lights in the house, burn every candle we could find in the house and put an album on the record player and just enjoy the music and togetherness of family.  There were frequent nights spent singing along to the tunes of Heart’s Dog and Butterfly, Sweet Charity the musical, Queen or my favorite…  The Rocky Horror Picture Show!  (That’s another story, for another day).

I think the thing that struck me the most as I reminisced about those times, is the overall simplicity of those nights.  Yet the impact on me was so profound.  We didn’t have to have an HD flat panel TV, blu-ray, laptops or Iphones to entertain ourselves!  All we needed was just the joy of some good music and sharing time with those who were most important in our lives.  In the small group that Jelise and I have been attending lately, we have been talking about how God has intended us to have margins in our lives, but how our society has become one where we are continually pushed to live outside those margins.  As I began to sit back and look at the things that demand time in my life, I have been finding that a lot of the things that consume the precious hours of my days are quite meaningless and vastly unimportant.

This is of course, no major revelation, but in my opinion, as advances in technology continue to grow, we keep inventing more and more things that demand our time and attention.  How much time during my day is spent reading and posting on internet sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?  How many countless hours have I wasted playing pointless games like Madden NFL or Guitar Hero on the Xbox or Wii?  Even worse, how much of my life have I wasted watching mind-numbing episodes of whatever sitcom, reality-show or other crap programming being streamed into my home via TV?  The sad reality that all of these things have in common, is that they force us to deviate from the thing that should demand the most of our attention in life…  Relationships!  I don’t just mean romantic relationships either, but all of them.  Our friends, family, kids, spouses and most importantly God!

(Yes, I realize that it’s somewhat hypocritical and ironic that I am using a blog and Facebook to criticize the unimportance of sites like FB!)

If I can cut back on even half the time that I spend wasted on these things and instead applied it to cultivating the relationships in my life, how much of an impact would it have on me and those important to me?   Well, I plan to find out!   I recently unplugged my laptop at home and put it away in the office.   I am going to cut back considerably on the amount of time that I spend online each day.  By the time I get home from work this evening, I’m planning on disconnecting the Xbox and Wii and storing them away for some undetermined amount of time.  While I know I won’t give up watching TV completely, I am planning on cutting back on my viewing time and devoting that time to reading my bible and spending more time with my wife!

I’m also planning on finding more productive and satisfying ways to spend my time, while looking to create more margins in my life!  I have always been fascinated by wood-working and people who have the ability to build things with their hands.  I have a couple of projects in planning that I am hoping to start working on soon.  I’m also looking forward to my mom moving back up to Virginia and the ability to spend more time with her.

It’s time to get back to the simple things!

 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

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