I have good news and I have bad news (I think). The good news is – that name?, that book title?, the author of that book?, that word ‘on the tip of your tongue’? – none are forgotten! They’re all in there, somewhere! The bad news is that our ‘filing systems’ sometimes get to be like that junk drawer, cluttered with who knows what (admit it, we all have at least one), where we say in frustration, “I know it’s in here.” When we attempt retrieval, we end up being led down the wrong aisle like at the supermarket. I think that elusive bit of information finally shows up around 2:15 AM because we’re no longer searching, when it’s no longer pertinent, when we’d much rather be asleep.
Here’s the deal – our brains instantly imprint everything we see, everything we hear, everything we experience. And I mean, everything, indiscriminately, good or bad. And all this input gets ‘filed’ in an area like the Permanent Collections Section in old-timey libraries. Because of the rapid-fire nature of incoming data, maybe our gray matter simply flings things in a random drawer somewhere so as not to get behind the continual onslaught of new ‘arrivals’ (not unlike the TV skit of Lucy and Ethel at the ever-quickening conveyor belt in the chocolate factory). It’s all put away, but where? When we feel overwhelmed and confused, it may be that our systems are on overload and need to slow down, to take a break. Without this much-needed, sometimes urgently signaled, rest, our decision-making power is greatly diminished or impaired. This distracted condition causes us to lose track, to forget the main thing, to expose our souls to harming influence.
If you watch the faces of the runners in 4×400 meter relays at the Olympics, one thing is clear – fierce, steely-eyed focus. Every muscle is taut, each body toned, with the finish line the sole aim. As the first runner prepares to slow down for the handoff, and the next runner, reaching for the baton, prepares to explode down the track, it’s the same. Adrenaline is flowing, hearts are beating furiously. The near presence of all competitors is in the peripheral vision of each. The winning runner crosses the finish line and can, only now, collapse, exhausted, happy, barely able to breathe, surrounded by exhilarated teammates, all laughing, sobbing, celebrating a great race. Often, as I re-watch these events, searching for the clues to their success, I find myself out of breath, too, having been drawn into the intensity of this brief, but grueling, contest.
My guess is these athletes are completely and deliberately oblivious to all else happening around the track: all the cheering, the audience, the announcements, the ongoing ads, the cameras. They’ve trained and trained and trained. They’ve come for one thing: to compete to the utmost of their ability, ignoring all distractions, until their mission has been completed. “Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each of you must run the race to be victorious. A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever.” 1 Cor. 9:24,25. Hmm. Eager to see y’all tomorrow at 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. PD