Faith. Development. Learning.
You know when you skip a stone over water how it bounces over the surface a few times then sinks? For most of its journey, that stone only has one perspective. It is just skimming the surface, bouncing somewhat randomly across a superficial view of the water, its movement dictated by forces beyond itself. At the end of its journey, it gets to see what lies beneath. And what lies beneath is often where the really cool stuff is. It’s where the life is. The fish, the coral, amazing colors, the way sunlight is refracted through the water creating art. The stone never sees this until the end, because it has run out of momentum and it is forced to experience what’s beneath the surface.
And often times, so it goes with us. We are busy. Skimming across the surface of life, moving rapidly from one thing to the next, missing out on what lies beneath, where the life is, and perhaps allowing circumstances to dictate our moods, days…maybe even lives. I don’t know about you, but it seems like this is the default. Busyness, or other forces, cause us to skim along the surface and we just get used to it. It isn’t until the end of the journey, when someone’s life is ending, or perhaps some other tragedy, that they take stock of things and look inside, or look around, in a different way. For me to avert that, I find it requires being very intentional to be introspective and connect with myself, God and those I care about at a deeper level. But its worth the journey. It’s where the life is.
Now let’s be clear – ain’t nothin’ wrong with the surface. After all, there are waves up there, and they can be a lot of fun. I’m just saying there’s more.
Speaking of which, ‘more’ is another thing I’ll address in this section. I think ‘more’ has both a dark side and a light side. The dark side of more is the typical American consumer mentality of always wanting more stuff. I live in what is likely the global capital of conspicuous consumption, and I see this all the time. It has many manifestations, but is basically typified by the whole keeping up with the Jones’s thing, or the grass is always greener, or I’ll be happy when…, or he who dies with the most toys wins, or – well, you get the picture. By the way, I am not exonerating myself from this – I’m guilty of it too, at least to some extent. The evil in this dark side of more is that it perpetuates a lie that you need something else to make you happy. But once you get that thing, you’re pleased with it for a little while, but it ultimately does not satisfy, so you need more. You need to go up that next step. And so you get that next thing, but then you need more. And you find yourself going step by step on an infinite stairway. But this is no Stairway To Heaven. There is no grand, sweeping Jimmy Page guitar solo in this song. Cuz the stairway, it’s not going up. You aren’t climbing to a better place. It’s more like a Stairway To Hell because it never ends. So happiness is always just out of reach. Anyhow, I think the key to battling this dark side of more is to be thankful for what I’ve been blessed with. It’s not that complicated…I’m not saying its necessarily easy, but it ain’t that complex. We must simply be thankful.
The light side of more is to develop, to make better, to improve. To do this for oneself and for others. Getting better at things and seeing improvement over time, sometimes competing with myself maybe to run a little faster or a little further, playing a riff today that I could not yesterday, helping someone do something they didn’t know they could, helping someone out just because. This is the light side of more. And interestingly enough, much like the dark side, this does not stop either. However, there is a subtle but critical difference – each step on this stairway is going to a good place.
Tying this all back to the stone skipping metaphor at the front, maybe the dark side of more keeps us locked at the surface. It imprisons us to constantly skim the superficial. Whereas the light side of more allows us to enjoy the surface and explore the depths.
This all just spewed out of my head, into my Mac and onto this page this morning, and I suppose it reads like the twisted ramblings of a pseudo philosophical mad man wannabe metaphysicist who needs to put down his crack pipe. Oh well.
In any case, here are some things that have helped me dive a little deeper and experience the ‘light side of more’.