I was watching one of my all-time favorite films the other day (High Fidelity) and there was a scene that hit me hard. It was the scene when, in the midst of his life spiraling into chaos, the main protagonist decides to reorganize his record collection.
Rob (played by John Cusack), having just broken up with his longtime girlfriend, begins to put these thousands of vinyl records in autobiographical order. When asked by one of his friends why he was doing this, he simply replied because it was…comforting.
I pushed stop on the film immediately. For some reason, the idea of reorganizing my music sounded very comforting to me at that moment. Not because my life was in any way chaotic, or anything remotely tragic had happened, but, to be honest, I wanted to take on this project because I was … bored.
So I started taking CDs off the shelves in my office and going through each one, updating my digital archive in iTunes. And as I did, something curious began to happen …
Now, before I go further I need to tell you a few things about my music collecting philosophy. First, I am not the typical music snob that acquires records just because someone tells me this band or that record is cool to own. In my opinion those types are not music fans, but people who like using music a means to sound intelligent and elitist. No, I am the type of music snob that only listens to music that I connect with deeply. I am what you would call an emotional music purist. I like what I like, and I have an intense personal connection with the music I choose to acquire. I prefer quality over quantity. What this means is that not only do I have a more difficult time finding music I love than most people, but I have a smaller collection because of it.
This also means I am prone to having droughts where I do not find records I love for weeks, or even months, at a time. And this particular chapter in my life has been one of the most dry yet. Perhaps my subconscious was pushing me to the great music reorganization of 2010 for this reason.
Now, if you know anything about me you know that I don’t do many things half-way. If I am into something I am really into it. And if I decide I am passionate about an activity I give it my all, or I don’t do it at all.
My wife calls this obsession.
I call it being awesome.
So, naturally, about three hours into my reorganization, I began shutting myself off from the rest of the natural world. I quickly forgot about things like food, water and human contact. Stacks of CDs surrounded me in all directions as my mind raced and catalogued. I was creating a master digital archive on my external hard drive so that in the event of loss, crash or natural disaster I would have all of my music backed up. The more seconds passed, the more I became consumed and convinced that I was partaking on a mission of utmost significance.
It was about this time my wife asked me if I was feeling okay. Apparently, she had been trying to speak to me for the better part of an hour and I had been ignoring her. I just looked at her like she, not I, was the one who was nuts. Frustrated and confused, she asked me a second question–one that proved to be profound:
“Why are you doing this?” she asked.
I didn’t have an answer immediately. I didn’t say anything, in fact. Instead, I just kept pouring myself completely into the task before me. So she left me to my compulsion. But her words kept playing in my head.
Why AM I doing this?
That was when I found a dusty CD on the shelf that I had neither listened to nor glanced at for years, Aimee Mann’s Lost In Space. The packaging is unbelievable. And the lyrics are astounding. How had I forgotten about this one? Then I found Super Black Market Clash. It has deep cuts from my favorite band of all time, and stories behind the songs in the liner notes. Stoked!
And then the flood gates opened. I began rediscovering tons of music—genius music—that I had not delved into for ages. My reorganization quickly evolved into a listening party, a celebration of all these great creations that had been sitting next to me for years, collecting dust. It was beautiful. It was inspiring. And it was highly educational.
I felt more alive, more in love with music than I had been for as long as I can remember.
But then, all of a sudden, I heard a still, small voice in my head, speaking to me about a more profound truth:
Sometimes the key to passion doesn’t lie in finding new truths but in reminders of old ones.
And somehow the trivial activity before me had become a spiritual metaphor.
Do you ever feel bored and stale spiritually? Of course you do. We all do. Many of you reading this probably feel that way at this very moment.
Many times we think the solution to the dryness is usually to inject some sort of “new” into our routine—a Rob Bell book purchase, a visit to that happening church every one is talking about, a new small group or a ticket to a men’s retreat. We are convinced that the key to keeping our passion alive is to continually ensure that there is enough fresh, contemporary spiritual stimuli flowing through the veins of our souls.
But rediscovering my old Clash and Quicksand records taught me something: Many times we think we need something brand new to re-awaken our first love, when perhaps all we need is a reminder. Maybe we just need to stop forgetting what we already know to be true.
“Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard.” – 1 John 2:7
So, here are a few reminders that will bring life to you if you are feeling dead:
*God’s love is unconditional, and his forgiveness is larger than any crime you have ever committed.
*If you will stand up for Him before people, Jesus will stand up for you before the Father in heaven.
*Eternal life is real and available at this moment.
*The past is dead, but you are alive in faith.
*There is no greater peace to be found in life than intimacy with your Creator.
I am not yet finished with my record reorganization, so I am going to get back to it. I just wanted to take a little break and give you a blog …
Do you feel just a little more alive now?