Reading Reflection:

On Paradise Drive, David Brooks (Simon & Schuster, 2004) It’s been a busy weekend. This Saturday we had opening ceremonies for my daughter’s softball and my son’s rookie league baseball teams. After that, of course, they had back-to-back games. Then it was off to get ready for the small group that meets at my house after church. As I was doing the cooking for that, as well as our dinner that night, my husband was on me to play him a round of horseshoes. I made him a deal that I would come out and play if he would help me get the house ready when we were done. The night ended with us both falling asleep while watching 48 Hours Mystery. Sunday morning I woke up early to do my Sunday School homework, yelled at everyone to pick up after themselves while I got ready, and we all whisked ourselves to church 8 minutes late. We had a thought-provoking Sunday School class, a wonderful service, and great small group time at my house afterwards. After everyone left, I decided that I was just going to enjoy the beautiful day finishing my book on the hammock. Sometimes I get so caught up in all the duties of momhood that I feel guilty indulging in these kind of pleasures. But they are far more important than we realize. And I certainly don’t want to turn into one of the Ubermoms described in Brooks’ book! This was a pleasure read for me; a break from all my theological stuff. I love reading outside because it is so much more conducive for good reflection. And being a Sunday, relaxing there on that hammock, I really felt like I was doing something (by doing nothing) to combat the American Achievatron that Brooks depicts so well. He hilariously describes the many ways that we labor for self-improvement and reaching our maximum potential. Many times our pursuit for success and meaning takes us down a very narrow road to fulfillment. This passage made me feel particularly proud to be hanging with the bees on my hammock:
You become enmeshed in the arduous pursuit of the unimportant. You develop a furrow mentality, driving to push the plow farther down the furrow to achieve your goal and excellence. Eventually, you become oblivious to the fact that your whole life is lived down in the furrow. Your horizon is far but narrow. In that furrow, your personality becomes a mere selling device. Friendships become contacts. The urge to improve deteriorates to mere acquisitiveness. Money becomes the measure of accomplishment. So much intellectual energy is devoted to outward market research that there is none left for inner observation. The language of commerce obliterates the vocabulary of morality. The imagination becomes professionalized, so you find yourself budgeting your thoughts on the useful tasks at hand, rather than letting your mind roam over the landscape and into unexpected gullies. You live by the clock, so when you pull up to the gas station, you are impatient over the three minutes you’ll have to waste while the pump slowly fills up the tank (244).
I know I can easily get sucked into the Achievatron. The thought of imagination becoming professionalized and budgeting my thoughts terrifies me! This is exactly why I knew I needed to take a break yesterday to throw some horseshoes with my husband. Most of the time we are very busy—doing good things. But we can’t let the good things be the ultimate things. Back when I had my coffee shop, we hosted monthly poetry readings. The group that met all had an initiation poem that they encouraged me to write as well. It had to be titled: Time Well Spent. At the time I was pregnant with my first child, so I wrote about gazing at my growing belly, wondering what was going on in there. This was a such great exercise, that I often write mini new versions of this poem in my head. Throwing some shoes with my husbee and laying on the hammock today were both time well spent. It just reminds me that God is more interested in who I am becoming than what I am achieving. After all, it’s by resting in Christ’s achievement on my behalf that I can contribute to others with the confidence that God will bless my efforts.