Do you remember making up and inventing games when you were a little kid? I do. My cousins and I took pride in it. Sometimes making up the game and it’s rules was more fun than actually playing it. As a matter of fact most of the time we would take so long to make up a game that by the time we finally started playing our parents would come outside and tell us it was time to go home. “NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!” we would cry out. What’s crazy is that the next time we’d get together we wouldn’t even remember the game we made up last time, so we’d have to make another one up all over again.
And then… video games came along. I can remember when my cousin got Nintendo. He called me on the phone all excited talking about this game with these plumber dudes who jump on mushrooms and threw fireballs and went down pipes and… I was like “What are you talking about?” I didn’t know my life was about to be changed.
What’s crazy though is the more time we spent inside playing games that were invented for us the less time we spent dreaming and imagining for ourselves. The guys who dreamed up Super Mario Brothers and Contra had done all the dreaming for us. Something happened as we accumulated more and more toys and got older. The dreamer/inventor in us was dying. The things we accumulated took us away from appreciating the simple and more valuable things we already had.
John Mayer says a line in the song Gravity: “Twice as much ain’t twice as good, and can’t sustain like one half could. It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees.” Couldn’t have been written or sung better. The more tangible objects we accumulate the less we tend to appreciate the things we already have – especially the unseen most valuable things (breath in our lungs, drinking water, God’s grace, opportunity to repent/change). Now there’s nothing wrong with accumulating things. But when we are duped into looking towards temporary objects to meet the deep desires of our hearts we’ll be left empty wanting more, thus investing in more temporary objects, and… “sent to our knees.”
I think we do this with relationships and people too. The more time we spend in friendships with others, typically the newness or excitement wears off and we take them for granted and forget their value. I can imagine married couples who when they were first falling in love didn’t need anything except each other. Their love for each other was more precious than anything they could ever purchase. Then after years of living together they lose sight of the value of each other and their love diminishes. It’s sad really, but it happens if we aren’t intentional about counteracting it.
I have this enormous propensity to get bored. It’s like if life isn’t feeling brand new it feels empty and meaningless. I’m growing a ton in this area, specifically by paying attention to and thanking God for what I already have but don’t take notice of. We hear it ALL the time and it sounds cliche, but I will say it again: appreciating the small things in life is a practice that can save us from much turmoil and seeking in vain.
I think back to those simple days, when my imagination was enough to keep me entertained. Today I want to live like my cousins and I did when we were content enough with each other that all we needed was a can and a ball and we could play for hours. I want to value God and people more than my stuff. And I want to be content in the simplicity of what’s most important rather than chasing after the complexity of what the world has made up and dreamed for me but is completely wrong.