It’s a quiet time, here on Meadow Creek Circle South. We don’t have any school-age children (thankfully!), and even our two sons have earned all the degrees they are planning on earning, unless something dramatic occurs. For the next long number of years, they will be more focused on paying off the student loans. Just a word about that, by the way – I’m not at all in favor of the government stepping in to pay off the loans, even though it would be very helpful economically to do that. It’s an obligation that they (and we) took on over the years, and I expect at some point to have them all resolved. The one thing, however, that I consider to be a bit of racketeering on the part of the government is that they “own” the loans of every student, unless there were private ones taken out. The interest rate that the government charges on school loans is between 7.9% and 8.5%! For the last many years, the prime rate for loans has rested at 4.75%, and has been there for over 14 years. When I was in high school, in reading The Merchant of Venice, I studied “usury,” which is the outrageous rate charged by one entity to lend money to another. Loan sharks are that way – and in my opinion, when the federal government has $1.7 TRILLION, charging 8%/year, it’s hard to think of it as anything other than a real rip off. Just my opinion…
Back to today’s story: as I mentioned yesterday, we are seeing the slow disappearing of summer, and the onset of Fall, which really only taps us on the shoulder, and reminds us that we were going to buy a new snow shovel this year, and it’s time to do that – and clean the gutters. The change is also punctuated by the gathering of the geese around all sorts of little ponds and sloughs, as they are mapping out the charts for their trip south in a few weeks. Other than that, it’s pretty quiet, and outside of Aaron’s birthday to come tomorrow, there is not a lot of other even mildly exciting things to look forward to.
So, on a nice cool Tuesday morning, what else is there to do except perhaps “go through” the center desk drawer in my office, which has remained in suspended animation since I graduated/retired in July of 2020, and see what I truly do need to keep. I thought I would first find my miner’s hat with the bright light on the front, just to find my way through what looks like the tomb of King Tut. I’m sure there is a curse connected with it somehow…
Yes – I need the roll of stamps. Granted, nowadays with most everything paid on line, I use about two stamps a month, so that means the roll will last me into five years. There is the ruler that hides a letter opener, a gift to Dad from the Tandy Leather store in Columbia SC, where in the 1960s, he would buy all sorts of leather kits to make us wallets and moccasins and belts and such. I have a stack of address labels from all sorts of groups who sent them to me in hopes I would fork over some money to them. Two – no, three pairs of scissors, a couple of fingernail clippers, and two small free measuring tapes. All of that is pretty good to keep.
Then – I wander in the valley of shadows… there, in the dark of the closed drawer, pens have reproduced, and created an army of writing implements. Now, I know some of them are by my own doing, but others are the remnants of freebies given out at conferences, or red uni-ball pens that were included in the packet of black ink pens, that I’ll never need, but can’t throw away. Paper clips of all sorts and sizes are strewn all over the drawer, but never in a spot where I can easily access them.
Then, there are the unusual items. For some reason, I have a tiny plastic bag in which is sealed a small fuse, and a brass screw. Really? Who’s putting this stuff in my desk drawer? Way at the back of my drawer is another, unopened little plastic bag that holds my United Methodist Retired Clergy pin. It’s a vestige of an older time, when “the old guys” would get together, or meet at Annual Conference, and be sure to wear their pin, which broadcast to everyone that “this used to be someone who was involved in real ministry, but who now just knows how to be first in line for the coffee breaks…” I think I’ll leave the pin where it is.
Then, because I am older than 40, I have made a major investment in the whole “reading glasses” industry. At one time, I thought of just hanging a pair about every 6 feet around the house, so I would have them in reach. However, for some reason, they migrated under the cover of darkness back to my desk drawer, where they spend their time getting the lenses scratched, or now exist with too low of a power for me to use to read. It’s kind of like the 500 pens – I use one pen, until it runs out, and then use another, but I like a nice dark ink flowing from the pen tip, and so many of the pens produce a tiny, skinny, fine point that I really don’t have enough time left in my life to appreciate.
There are cords from electronic devices of old, and adapters, and a nice stack of business cards from a former life…
Basically, the drawer is full of junk. Most likely I have about 15% of the things that are worth any value – but how do you throw away pens? Or open battery packs, or the little silver bubble level from The Woodworkers Journal – another freebie that is really cool, but useless in my current life, and if I needed a level, I probably would go down to my workbench in the basement, and not think of checking my desk.
I’ve said before that we live truly in a culture of excess. I used to despise the old MTV slogan of “Too much is never enough,” because I thought it just invited greed and a denial of reasonable limitations. Now, I think we have given ourselves over to it. I know, I know – it’s only a desk drawer, but if I have a challenge in maintaining this drawer, what does it say about my life? I’m pretty sure I can do better. I think I’ll start with this drawer, and be intentional about what I truly need, and what is just the fluff and clutter that quickly overwhelms.
Anyone need a pen? Or a pair of reading glasses?
Word for the day: risibility. Pronounced riz-uh-BILL-ih-tee. Did you know that the muscles around your mouth that help you smile are known as risorius muscles? It all come from the same Latin word risibilis, meaning “laughable, or able to laugh,” from Latin, ridere, the verb which means simply, “to laugh.” Someone who is endowed with risibility has a tendency to always be laughing – they are jolly people, who love a great joke, or simply have a well-tuned funny bone. They laugh and smile at the drop of a hat, and they both refuse to take themselves seriously nor see the world in the same light.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.