Thursday, July 2, 2009

Musical Journey Toward Deeper Living

On my way to a pool job today my rather eccentric boss (I love you David) was flipping between radio stations and for a while we landed on what I assume was a country station. Two of the songs that we heard back to back started me thinking and that eventually led to this.

The first song was "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw. The verses paint a picture of a man who is dying. When asked what he did with what he believed to be his final days, the answer we get is several things that I found disappointing. Primarily, though it seems that most of his answers have to do with simple thrill seeking- mountain climbing, sky diving, bull riding, etc. The point of the song is to say that when you are on the verge of death you "really live"- you do what seems most valuable despite whatever risks might be involved. Somehow, though, I feel like this must mean something deeper than just seeking thrills.

The second song was "Who Says You Can't Go Home" by Bon Jovi. I found this progression ironic- the first song proclaims that to really experience life you have to get out and enjoy all the thrills life might have to offer. The second song starts out with someone who has in essence done just that and says "all I want to do is go back home." There comes a point when chasing thrills looses its thrillingness and becomes empty. Is that just the nature of the beast or is that an indication that chasing thrills is not really what living is all about? Is there something deeper to life?

I think there is, though I sometimes have a very hard time expressing what that might be. Certainly we all want to "do something we love." Certainly we all want to "enjoy life" and "live life to the fullest." But when we say those expressions, what do we mean? Do we just mean going out and doing things we might not otherwise do, collecting experiences that we might one day be able to tell stories about? Maybe. But honestly, as much fun as I have had in various experiences- as much as I enjoy rock climbing, as much of a thrill as I get out of rappelling down a cliff face or white water rafting, as enjoyable and relaxing as I find sailing- when I stop and think about my favorite memories, those aren't usually the ones that come to mind. Its instead usually a late night talk with a good friend, a week spent working for an orphanage in a developing nation, helping a friend or a family member move, teaching, etc. Maybe I'm just more of a nerd than I like to think I am, but to me these things seem much more meaningful. They seem like experiences that really matter. And so to me, they seem to much more fulfill the meaning of "living life to the fullest."

Later in the day we switched to a Christian music station. I categorically despise Christian music, for the record. Its cheesy, its mostly superficial, its too formulaic, and its just terrible art (with a handful of exceptions, like the song I'm about to mention). I'm ashamed to be associated with it most of the time. However, one song played while we were listening that stood out to me because, for one thing, it was musically appealing in some respects, and for another it was exceptionally honest lyrically. The song was "What Do I Know of Holy?" by Addison Road. The song very poignantly points out the emptiness of much of our "spirituality" by asking what it really means for God to be who we say he is. If God is greater than anything else, what point of reference do we really have to even begin to comprehend that? When we say things, are we just saying them because we think they are supposed to be said, or because we actually understand what they mean and so mean what we are saying? I think too often, it is the former and not the latter. Now, while this message has a context particularly related to Christian worship (and I think the singer is intentionally targeting the emptiness of a lot of Christian worship, maybe even alluding to some other bands in the industry), I think a broader principle can be derived that hits our topic more directly. Often, when we say things about life, we say them without understanding them. We don't think through what it means to "really live," we jump to the conclusion that this means something our culture is conditioning us to think it means. Sure, you can have a lot of fun when you go Rocky Mountain climbing. But I guarantee if that becomes a "real living" experience, it will not be because of the mountain so much as the people you climbed it with, the conversations you had, the camaraderie that was built, etc. So when we talk about what it means to "really experience life," my challenge is to ask how deep are we thinking? Are we looking for thrills or are we looking for meaningful, lasting experiences?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog has moved, searching new blog...