I’ve probably spent the majority of my adult life sitting in either the driver’s seat of a car on the interstate, or in an office chair. I’ll bet I’ve been the main “sitter” in more than 20 office chairs. Some were wonderful creations, comfortable and luxurious – others were… not so much. The one I am dealing with right now (you can tell already from my language that is falls into the second category) is one I’ve had for about five years. It was one of those “great deal” chairs from an office supply store. In fact, it did start out pretty well, and only took me about two hours to put it together when I brought the giant box home. It has big cushions, fairly comfortable arms that have become a bit wiggly over the last year – and it has one more issue that may become the deal breaker, if I can’t find a solution very quickly.
The best way to describe the situation is that the chair… “choonks.” I know that’s not the technical term for when the pneumatic cylinder under the seat, which is supposed to adjust to the sitter’s comfort and needs, decides to go maverick and make its own adjustments. I’ll be sitting in the chair going about my very important work, now that I am retired, when suddenly, it will “choonk.” It’s not that the entire cylinder collapses or can’t hold its air or whatever is in the thing – it’s that it lets go of just a little bit of the cylinder air, which makes the chair choonk a little downward. Just a little, but I can imagine the cylinder underneath me snickering a little bit – quietly and holding its little cylinder hand over its little cylinder mouth, chuckling at its ability to control my chair comfort. If I just ignore it, after a while, another “choonk” will occur… one day, I finally found myself typing at my computer with my keyboard at the same height as my chin. I felt like a five-year-old.
At that point, in a moment of frustration, I stand up, yank the lever that should make the cylinder become obedient once again, and the chair rises quickly up, and I can once again go back to typing with relative comfort. Except… after settling in for ten minutes or so, I receive another “choonk,” from the stinking deceptive cylinder, and the cycle repeats itself. Maddening, I tell you – maddening…
Not one to be outsmarted by a chair, I took this difference of opinion to the next level. I did some research in between the choonking, and discovered that, instead of having to buy an entirely new chair, that I could simply replace the offending cylinder, and all would be well. I went online and found the perfect replacement. They said it was a “universal” cylinder, and would fit nearly every chair in existence, at least in the Western World. I quickly ordered it, and sat smugly in my chair, yea, even snickering at the cylinder, daring it to do its worst, but judgment was coming!
The new, beautiful replacement came in the mail. I unwrapped it and found that the company also sent along tools, and a pair of white gloves. At that, I was both impressed and concerned: impressed that the company would care about my hands not getting dirty as I strangled the old cylinder, but also concerned that the gloves could mean there might be the presence of grease or oil, as the old beast gasped its last choonking breath…
The instructions appeared simple and came with great illustrations. I would pull the chair up to its full height, and the yank on the chair seat to remove it. I did so, and nothing happened. I think I heard another snicker from under the seat. I tried a few times more and then decided to turn the chair over (not in the instructions) and see if a direct assault would bring closure to this battle. However, as soon as I flipped the chair over, I noticed the chilling truth: my chair, among the thousands, yea, millions of office chair models, happened to be that one that was NOT universal. There was no way the cylinders were interchangeable. Another snicker, I was sure I heard. Shaking my head, I slowly turned the chair upright, put the replacement cylinder back in its box, and sat down on the chair to think of what I needed to do next. Sure enough: choonk.
I don’t know of a single human who hopes for things not to go her or his way. We plan, we imagine, we strategize, and we hope that what we have intended to do actually turns out that way. Unfortunately, even with those best intentions, those innovative plans and expectations, the chair still choonks, with no end in sight. What are we do to when all that happens? How do we cope with that? First, I think it’s important to separate the dire, dangerous, life-threatening stuff, from the stuff that just happens, because our lives carry with them a near-infinite number of variations from what we expect and want. Frankly, that fact is what makes life wonderfully full, as things we never thought would happen suddenly do, and things we always relied on to just occur, suddenly do not. Granted, some things are really bad, but other things don’t merit the “bad” rating – they are just different. Even a chair that choonks is not earthshaking! I’ve actually gone a few days now without the snickering drop. However, I fully expect that one of these days, I will find myself at the office supply store, once again full of hope and expectation that the NEW chair will not disappoint me. I think living intentionally means that we also keep things in proper perspective, so that when truly awful things come to bear, we have the ability and resource to deal with them on that level. Let the troubles of today just be of today, and let’s not get bent out of shape over little things that are just part of life. Maybe when God brings us back to paradise, it will all be better.
In the meantime – anyone need a new universal chair cylinder?
Word for the Day: Novaturient. The word means “the desire to seek powerful change in one’s life.” From the Latin (what else?) nova, meaning “new” and -turient meaning “the state or expression of something” Romans 12 states, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Intentional change arises out of courage. Take the challenge.
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.