Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Stuff

I'm in middle of packing up for a family trip to Tennessee as I write this. I have clutter scattered over my desk, laundry in the washing machine and dryer, and a half-full backpack sitting by my bed in my room. I didn't think I would have any reason to be thoughtful today, but I have been proved wrong.

My sister and I both love music. We didn't start listening to music until about three years ago. In that time we have come a long way. I remember when we first started buying CDs. One of the very first I ever bought was Relient K's The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek. I remember the way we opened it carefully, slowly, and stared at the glossy lyrics booklet. I remember how mad I was when one of my little brothers cracked the case. I remember how treasured that one CD was.

That was a little more than two years ago. Today I was assembling a CD wallet full for our trip. I slid in four Skillet CDs, eight Relient K CDs, two Anberlin, three Barlow Girl, two Lifehouse, two Disciple, and several other random CDs, and then I couldn't fit any more of my collection in. I think around the time I hit the Anberlin CDs I started thinking.

The last time we really went on a family road trip was two years ago. I remember I had three or four Relient K CDs by then. I was considering buying my first Skillet songs off of iTunes.

Two years ago, I would have looked at my CD wallet of today in absolute awe. I would have thought it was the coolest thing ever. It would have been awesome-overload.

But now I take it all for granted. I work a steady job, I ask for music every Christmas and for every birthday. I have a fairly large CD collection that has been built in a fairly short space of time. And somehow it's not as mind blowing as I would have thought two years ago.

And then I looked at my laptop, sitting here on my desk with its TWLOHA, Relient K, and Skillet stickers on the back... probably the nicest computer in our house. I finally finished paying for it a year ago, when I was recovering from being extremely ill, so I spent hours at a time in bed with it. It was a miracle to me – having my own computer, with internet access, was a dream come true.

A few days ago I couldn't get wireless and I had to share the internet on my siblings' computer for just one day. I was grumpy and put out all day because of it. But that used to be normal.

I looked at my camera, the beautiful little thing that allows me to show others a little of how I see the world – once again, the nicest camera in our house. I bought it at the end of last summer, after working a full time office job. Now it comes everywhere with me. But there was a time when I lived without it.

So what am I getting at? As I was sliding the CDs into the wallet, I realized that they were just stuff. I like music because it encourages me, reminds me that I'm alive, reminds me how to love and how to hope. But I don't need this CD collection; I could listen to the radio or even look songs up on YouTube. I don't need the laptop. I lived without it for years, and I could easily do so again. My camera is pretty amazing, and I love it, but at the end of the day it's not going to do much for me when I'm wrestling with the issues of life and death.

I do not consider myself to be materialistic. I have a tendency to give things and money away a lot because it's meaningless to me. But I definitely had to give myself a somewhat humbling reality check today as I realized how much I take for granted. We hear people say all the time that we shouldn't focus on stuff or take what we have for granted, but how often do we look around our computer desks and realize exactly how much we really have and how selfish we are about it?

I've been reading Jon Foreman's blog posts. He has been fasting for the last three days to raise awareness about the situation in Darfur. It's reminded me as well how stupid I am to feel entitled to stable wireless, to stacks of CDs, even to my little box full of sharpies and the coffee sitting in the kitchen waiting for me.

Tomorrow I will climb into a van without air conditioner and spend 13 hours of my life sweating all the way to eastern Tennessee. But I have transportation. I have access to food and to water along the way. I have my pretty journals and my pens and my CDs. And I am blessed beyond belief.

Just look around your computer desk. What stuff are you taking for granted?

- Elraen -


Manwariel said...

Indeed. Thanks for the reminder.

Liz said...

this was a really good post & reminder :)

funny...i've been thinking about these things lately too.

freaky huh? lol