I was in my local library last week to do some reading and research. The work spot I selected was in an area above the main floor. I like this spot because there are tables and chairs, plug-ins for computers and several large windows that allow for patrons to view and reflect on the unbeatable Colorado landscape. It is a peaceful, somewhat secluded place and one of my favorite spots to read and write.
In the first few minutes, I took opportunity to notice my fellow patrons in the reading area. There were three men sitting in front of the windows reading and taking in the panoramic view of the Rockies. There was a young man with earphones connected to his computer. And there was a man at another table reading a newspaper and listening to an IPod. All available chairs were taken except for one at a table directly between me and another patron.
This vacancy was soon filled by a man who came in, sat down, arranged his belongings on the table and plugged in his computer. We all smiled at him and sort of welcomed him into the impromptu circle of peace. When his computer booted up, a loud voice announced, “Select your song, please.”
A few of us jumped in surprise at the volume of the command shattering the silence. Perhaps the most surprised among us was the newest member to the reading area. He immediately went into a frenzy of hitting buttons in an attempt to silence the computerized intruder. “Select your song, please,” she demanded.
I looked at the patron with the earphones and we exchanged smiles. With obvious embarrassment, the newcomer continued to search, poke, hit buttons, run his fingers through his hair, sigh and turn deep crimson. “I am so sorry,” he stammered. With relentless insistence, the computer repeated, “Select your song, please.”
The young man with the earphones got up, walked over and offered him the earphones.
“No, thank you,” said the man who was in battle with the invisible voice. “I think I can figure this out. You see my six-year-old daughter was playing a game on this laptop and she apparently did not exit the program before shutting the computer off.”
“Select your song, please,” came the authoritative computer commander.
“No problem, man,” was the reply from the man offering the earphones. “I just thought this might help until you get it figured out.”
One man good-naturedly offered a suggestion, “Shall we call your daughter?” Most of us laughed. Our laughter served to assure the embarrassed gentleman that it was okay and we were amused and not angry about this sudden disruption of quiet time.
After telling us that would not be necessary, and one more round of the invitation to, “Select your song, please,” he gave up and turned his computer off. He again apologized for the disturbance, and most of us reinforced the statement that it was okay and no harm was done. That was the general opinion of the group, except for one man who slammed his book shut, stood, glared at us and stomped out of the library. We went back to our respective activities.
That afternoon, I kept hearing the phrase in my mind, “Select your song, please.” I decided this was a good topic for discussion with God and Lynard (my 1969 VW Beetle who over the years has proven to be a trusted confidant).
While Lynard and I ran errands, I replayed the scene in my mind and felt great empathy for the man with the disobedient computer. I felt great tenderness for the kind young man who tried to help him by lending him earphones until the problem was sorted out. I giggled at the offer to call a six-year-old in to solve the computer problem (who among us hasn’t thought of doing that?). I admired this clever tactic that was meant to offer relief through humor and laughter. I puzzled over the reactions of the man who was so annoyed he physicalized his disapproval by slamming a book shut and stomping out with enough intentional force to intimidate all of us and further humiliate the person he considered an offending party. I wondered what made him react like that. Seemed like a little thing to me.
Then I remembered that I was in a really good place that day. Had spent time with the Lord, was working on a project I am very excited about and hanging out in an all-round grateful and contented posture. These ingredients contributed to my lack of annoyance at this little interruption in my plans. But what if I had been in a bad mood, or felt poorly? What if I was harboring a grudge or nursing hurt feelings? Would I have been so quick to offer empathy instead of anger at the stranger with the run-away game mistress firing off instructions? Who knows?
This much I do know. My day, my reactions, my attitudes and my offerings to my fellow earth travelers are direct reflections of where and how I start my day and what I fill my heart with. If I get up frenzied, full of complaints and running in circles like a turkey with mad-foul disease, chances are the feathers will fly at least once in my journey. But if I start with quiet, alone time (selfish you say?), reading about, feeling, and leaning on the love of God, chances are that is what I will reflect and extend to others.
You see it goes something like this story I once heard. A man and his son were fishing one day and he decided it was a good time to teach his boy a lesson about navigating through life. He said, “You know son, each person has, in their heart, a good dog and a bad dog that are always fighting for dominance and control.”
The little boy asked his dad, “Which dog wins dad?”
The dad informed him, “The dog that is fed.”
There is the choice my friends, for you and for me. Each day, at some point, our souls and hearts need to be fed. Do we feed them with the song of negativity that can and often does accompany life? Or do we feed them with the song of love, forgiveness, acceptance and tenderness of God? Funny how a song we hear in the morning will stay with us all day long, huh?
I got to thinking that this just might be a good practice to introduce into my daily life. Get up, greet the day, plug in the greatest computer ever created – the human brain – and, “Select your song, please.”
Copyright July 2012
Lakewood, CO 80401
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“Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page
The award-winning “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you live in the U.S. and would like an autographed copy sent directly to you, click on the tab for buying books on my home page. I will ship it to you after your purchase.