June 20, 2014
The Sears catalog had an 11-transistor radio, light blue with a silver grill. It caught my eye one fine spring day in the ‘60’s. How I wanted that sparkling technology to be in my hands. Eleven transistors!
For several months my savings intermittently, incrementally grew, as I often daydreamed of the radio during my high school classes. Finally my account had the required $27, and from our little house on West 2nd Street, I trekked uptown to Sears, gave them the cash and walked away with my transistor radio.
It became a regular companion. I listened to tunes late into the night, keeping the volume down, radio to my ear, so as not to disturb my parents. (Or was it to keep from getting into trouble?) I took it on trips. From Eastern Oregon, I listened to stations in San Francisco (notably, the first talk radio show I ever knew hosted by Ira Blue on KGO) and was even sometimes able to pull in a New York City station. Unbelievable adventure!
I do not remember how long I used that radio. But at one point in my life, probably a few years into my marriage, I pulled the former prize out of a box. The shiny chrome handle was loose – unattached on one side – the screw long missing. Batteries had leaked and ruined the electronics. What was once an enticing prize was unusable and no longer desired.
Contrary to optimistic, evolutionistic belief, we live in a world where the second law of thermodynamics rules with rigor. Things do not improve, they degrade. Things break, the luster fades. Things get scratched and dented. Things become just – things.
I know this. You know this. Yet, when the latest shiny object appears on the horizon, reason takes flight. Whatever tickles your fancy, that which makes you a fan, continues to draw your attention. We want the newest and the latest.
We do not stop to consider that in a few years this object of our fancy will degrade significantly in appeal and value to us.
In the other room lies my iPad. Three years ago it was a Valentine’s gift from my wife. I thought about having an iPad for a long time.
How shiny it was. How fast it operated. I quickly adapted new habits and work practices, some of which have become standard for me. It is (was) a wonderful tool.
Guess what? By electronic device standards, it is now an antique. (It turned out that, unknown to me, the iPad 2 was about three weeks from release when I bought it. My new prize was outdated right out of the box.)
After all it is about 1200 days old. It is no longer fast. It stops to ponder awhile when I tap the glass. Why does this happen? It is the same machine. There are no moving parts to wear out. It has the same processor. All possible upgrades have been downloaded. Yet, it is too “old” to upgrade to the latest operating system. What once impressed me with performance now keeps me drumming my fingers.
Guess what called for attention at the back of my mind for several months? The iPad Air, obviously. Isn’t that the natural next step? (And, wouldn’t you know, I’ve had one now for about a month. Yes, I’m still delighted.)
I have always liked Volkswagen Beetles. I bought a nifty yellow and white one several years ago.
Visions of combining transportation with hobby danced in my head. It never quite worked out. I finally got tired of it and sold it. (Note to self: don’t buy a nearly heaterless hobby car when living in the Icebox of the North.)
I remember when the Volkswagen Rabbit came out in 1975. I read everything I could about this new take on transportation. What a startling new concept and design. The term “pocket rocket” caught my fancy. Finally after obsessive research, a shiny new ’76 Rabbit took up residence in the parking space near our apartment in Spokane, Washington.
It was a kick to drive. I had so much fun with that nimble little machine. It was painted a deep rich brown. Seven years later, it wasn’t so shiny. Some of that glow was gone. The driver’s seat had developed cracks.
You know what I am describing. We get our heart and mind set on some glowing new icon – the next one in an endless line of glowing, quickly fading icons. We subconsciously think this time it will be different. But yet the thing that once reigned supreme in our minds has very little appeal to us anymore. We live in a world where things do not last, but our actions indicate we don’t believe it.
This should temper our desires. Due to the fact that we live in a broken world, we have to replace things on a fairly regular basis. But maybe we shouldn’t be quite so excited. Yes, be thankful – humbly grateful. But I think I need to lift my eyes higher and cultivate that desire for things that will never break down or quit being shiny.
There is an eternal kingdom coming. There is a heavenly city that one day will be visible to us. Talk about shine.