Cheri and I went out to buy some new jigsaw puzzles yesterday. We are still on that “kick,” and it’s fun to now and then mosey over to the kitchen table, and try to put some pieces in place – and when it’s too frustrating, we just put the puzzle back in the box and select another. I figure life is too short to live with frustration that we ourselves create. I mean, there is plenty in the world around us to fill up the frustration vacuum, so why spend hours unsuccessful in putting together a puzzle that won’t go together. We just usually give it to Cheri’s niece, to up her frustration quotient a bit…
So, as I have mentioned before, the best puzzles, of course, are Springbok. They fit together the best, and have some real heft and strength to them. Now, Springboks used to be sold in all the Hallmark stores. I’ll bet we have put together more than 500 puzzles over the years. However, nowadays, it appears that Hallmark has come out with its own brand of jigsaw puzzles, which are vastly different in quality and pieces than Springbok. One of our struggles, however, is that since this whole pandemic began, with jigsaws being our biggest vice, we have pretty much run through the entire inventory of the Springbok Puzzle Company – everything at least besides the overabundance of Christmas puzzles that have the theme of little red cardinals in the snow, or Santa in one of a hundred poses.
So, we have ventured into the land of Hallmark puzzles. Actually, we have done pretty well going through them also, so the pickings were, as they say, a bit thin. We only found three new ones – well, actually four, but we weren’t really sold on the big train puzzle…
One of the rules we have fairly well adopted during this time, is that when someone goes out to any store, the ones left at home are given the privilege of calling or texting if they think of anything they need – or want – while the ones who are out, are out. Now, 9 times out of 10, that means Cheri and I are out, and the text comes from one of the boys.
Cheri read text to me as we were making our way over to the Hallmark store. “The boys say they need more AA batteries.” I was proud of myself for not swerving into the coming traffic, or crashing up on the curve. “What? I JUST bought a package of about 20 super long lasting AA batteries when I was at the grocery store last week! How could they have gone through so many so quickly?” Cheri passed it off as not a big deal, and after we went to the Hallmark store, I dropped her off a few doors down at the grocery store to buy yet another bundle of batteries. You do know they run about $20/package, right?
So, we brought them home, along with our non-battery-powered jigsaw puzzles, and I went into the so-named battery drawer to check on the number of existing AAs still in there. Sure enough – there was the package that I had purchased last week. I turned it over, and the 24-pack of batteries still had FOUR batteries left in it. Four. There was a moment in which I was very concerned that my sons were actually consuming little batteries as snacks – sort of like energizer popcorn or something.
I went downstairs and simply asked, in my caring, concerned, supportive and always fair Dad voice, “What the heck have you been doing with all the batteries? Building a robot? Creating a space travel machine for Mars? How could you possibly use that many batteries in such a short time?” Their response was simple, and direct: Xbox controllers.
So, apparently, I missed out on buying significant stock in both Eveready and Duracell companies during this pandemic. Apparently, Xbox controllers, which are used to play Xbox games for hours at a time, are battery powered. And by battery powered, I mean they, in their own special way, consume batteries by the hour! Now, I expect that it may be true that they function like other battery powered items I’ve been acquainted with before. When I was in the local church, and we used wireless microphones, the little power pack that strapped to my belt carried with it a 9 volt battery. They were very effective, but we discovered that a 9 volt battery only would last one Sunday morning. If I tried to use it the next Sunday, I would barely get past the announcements, and it would start to cut out on me, which is especially disconcerting as you try to preach, having only one or two words out of every five actually reach the congregation. What I learned was that the 9volt batteries were all very good and functional, but when it came to the wireless stuff, when the power slipped below about 8 watts, it didn’t have the juice to produce. I could use the batteries in any other kind of wireless device that needed a 9 volt, but I just collected them and put them in my desk drawer, knowing I could never that many in my lifetime.
What I am guessing, is that when it comes to the Xbox, the little AA batteries are wonderful in the first couple of hours, but when they drain down a little, the immediate, faster-than-thought response of the controller slows down, or maybe freezes, or is just not what the experience needs. So, rather than playing less, it only makes sense to change the batteries more often.
I imagine there are many “things” in our life just like the controllers. Unless they are fully powered, they falter or freeze up, and we find ourselves searching for a new source of support so that we too can function at nearly the speed of thought. We need, and sometimes even demand perfection in the things around us, and when they fail, we toss them into the trash, or the recycling bin, and move on.
I guess that makes sense in many things. If I needed to be on oxygen, I really wouldn’t be thrilled about having a machine with only 50% output. But most things are not that critical, are they? Even in a world of abundance, it may be possible to function just fine with a little less, or less demand at least. I’m not saying that we not strive for the best and strongest in our lives, in whatever area we might find ourselves. It’s just that there are times when it is possible to move to a simpler and less over-the-top demanding approach to life. Simply consider those parts of your life where it feels like there is no grace, and no room to do anything less than perfect. It may be possible to look at those areas, and consider where some “less is more” philosophy could be adopted. That’s especially true when it comes to the way we treat people, or expect from others that “too much is never enough” production.
When we are intentionally kind, and intentionally thoughtful, we can also become intentionally balanced, understanding where we NEED to have things just so, and when it’s ok to have them less than perfect. Perhaps we can enjoy the game a bit more, and not have to buy quite so many batteries…
Word for the day: Humdinger. Pronounced simply HUM-DING-er. What a fun and fancy word. Hardly used anymore, unless you also use the words “by cracky!” It’s a pure American word, kind of mashing together two other slang words. Hummer is what it sounds like: the sound of a beehive, full of energy, and moving fast when it needs to. Dinger was always something rather superlative or excellent. A home run in baseball is a “dinger.” It declares something to be outstanding. So, when you put those two together, you get something that is truly great and full of energy, in the rarified air of super, even! The word, of course, goes with some of its other American relatives, like the bee’s knees, ripsnorter, lollapalooza, crackerjack, or even the cat’s meow. Use some of those in conversation with your children or grandchildren and watch their response…
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.