“Do you remember the 21st night of September? Love was changing the minds of pretenders, while chasing the clouds away…” – “September” – Recorded by Earth, Wind & Fire (1978), Columbia label. Composers: Maurice White, Al McKay, Allee Willis.
Hey, look at the post date of this jot. As I write, it’s actually the 21st night of September. The lyric of this classic isn’t just timely for the calendar date, but for what it represents. More on that below.
Can I get personal way up front? How tired are you? Maybe the better question might be, how sick and tired are you? Yeah, me too. I don’t believe it’s just me twirling my hair, sitting on my front steps with coffee in hand making up scenarios. There’s just lots of dismay, dishonor and disheartening things coagulating at the same time across the planet. You would have to be living in a cave not to feel it in the air, that’s if the cave doesn’t fall-in on you from the next earthquake, or flooded out by the next hurricane, or burned out by the next wildfire, or nuked out by a nuclear fallout, etc. Nope! I refuse to list the itemization in my head here, although if I did, it would take a few pages. However, I would refer you to the news of the day, news that doesn’t have to be conjured from an instigator spewing “fake news.” It’s enough to make one lose sleep, or act-out in an uncharacteristic knee-jerk reaction in traffic, at work, at home. I know, I’m guilty as charged.
Certainly you and I deal with the craziness of our society’s environment differently. Depending upon our backgrounds, and the source of our personal peace, we can trek various paths in search for that sweet spot where we are at rest, running from the unrest we feed on each day. Many will choose their drug of choice. It might BE a drug. If so, don’t procrastinate. Get help now. It might be finding solace in other externals. What does that look like for you? What is your escape sled into the fields of release? Pizza? BBQ? A glass of Merlot? Movies, TV sitcoms, game day, video games, scenic drives, a cruise to other coasts, jogging, artwork, concerts, a vintage album, dancing, singing, acting, blogging? Hmmmm. I perceive a lengthy scroll is needed.
Burn-out is a real issue. I have known many highly successful individuals that admitted to the experience. I’ve known many songwriters who MUST get away to a secluded beach or mountain cabin to pound out new songs for new projects. I’ve known owners of businesses who seem to be the Energizer bunny that keeps going and going and going, yet have to shut down in a park or at a lake with a fishing pole.
Remember Christopher Cross’ song, “Sailing” from 1980?
“Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me. And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility. Oh, the canvas can do miracles just you wait and see. Believe me….”
Did I catch you singing? Me too. It was a huge hit with great hooks. The 2nd verse is even more revealing. Here’s just a sliver.
“…if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again…”
I love Christopher, but if he were with me now, I am sure he would say, although he released the song in June of 1980, he is still searching.
The refresh button is a pleasing symbol, I think. Isn’t it? You’re reading an article when suddenly you can’t seem to scroll down to the next riveting page. After taking a hammer to the mouse, you click on the refresh button and it begins to make it’s circling dance testifying to something like, “Hey, I’ve got your back. Relax. It’ll just take me a few seconds”. Then, if all goes the way it should, BOOM! It all loosens up and stress has been freed into the atmosphere for another time, another victim. To me, it’s like the reboot button, mainly on the older units. My shaking finger would reach for it out of frustration when my screen froze right in the middle of an audio production I worked tirelessly on, back in my radio theater days. After engaging the reboot, I held my breath, trying to recall the last time I saved whatever scene I was building. Most of the time, it went well. But the first project I did 20 years ago on Pro-Tools software, I hadn’t saved squat within the first 42 minutes of post-production. A rookie mistake. The computer froze. I rebooted and when it came back to my screen, I had lost 42 minutes of mixed post-production work. Heartbreaking! I had to reproduce it all, and in some cases, brought back certain actors to lay down lines lost. I never forgot that lesson. (Ooops, let me hit “save” right now while it’s on my mind.)
I also love the word, “REBOOT”. It reminds me of my first job the summer after I graduated from high school. I worked for Florsheim Shoes in a retail store at Valley View Mall in Dallas, Texas. Some customers, who thought we were cobblers as well, would come in with a worn-out sole asking for a re-sole. If the boot or shoe was a sown-on leather sole, it could be done. In those cases, we would refer them to a cobbler shop down the street where old boots or shoes could be….well, “rebooted” so to speak. So, to me, rebooting my computer feels like I am re-soling for more computer roadwork.
Yet, the deeper question remains. Does my “s-o-u-l” really get rebooted, or is it a temporary weekend band-aid as I go sailing with Mr. Cross?
You remember Dr. Svend Brinkmann Ph.D., the Danish author and professor of psychology, right? (I know, I didn’t know him from Adam.) But I was struck by an excerpt from his new book, “Stand Firm: Resisting The Self-Improvement Craze”.
“In our secular world, we no longer see eternal paradise as a carrot at the end of the stick of life, but try to cram as much as possible into our relatively short time on the planet instead. This is, of course, a futile endeavor, doomed to failure. It is tempting to interpret the modern epidemics of depression and burnout as the individual’s response to the unbearable nature of constant acceleration. The decelerating individual – who slows down instead of speeding up, and maybe even stops completely – seems out of place in a culture characterized by manic development and may be interpreted pathologically (i.e. diagnosed as clinically depressed). – Dr. Svend Brinkmann Ph.D.
Interestingly enough, King Solomon wrote about this dilemma many times throughout Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I sure hope Dr. Brinkmann didn’t spend a decade discovering this truth.
I have to ask myself in the scope of my days, do I cram “stuff” in my existence on my sled down to another plane to escape the utter chaos of my surroundings? Better yet, when I climb back up that snowy hill, dragging my sled behind me, do I return to the same plateau I descended from? Is it a never-ending circle in a cyclical effort to refresh, to reboot my soul? I think the conclusion is, too many of us use stuffings in our lives like toys and trinkets, activities, events, flights, social acrobatics all in efforts to find peace and sanity.
Because I am a Christian, my faith doesn’t ask me, it demands me, to connect with His Spirit for the refresh and reboot. It’s a divine attribute specifically guaranteed to each who call on the name of Jesus. If only I, in my fleshly nature, in a fleshly world, can remember on this 21st night of September how to chase the clouds away, rediscovering the truth. When I do, I am promised fuel for the race.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted (having shod your feet) with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace.” – Paul, Eph 6:14-15 (NIV)