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A Lesson I’ve Spent Half My Life Learning


When I was just out of college, twenty-three years ago, an uncle remarked to me that when you can go on a long car drive by yourself without the need for aural stimulation, whether music or talk, you have learned to live with yourself.

I think I’m finally learning to live with myself.

When we first moved here, I couldn’t. I had to listen to the radio while I was at least doing the laundry (we do it by hand), if not during other times of household chores.

When Jerry and Benjamin went out somewhere and left me alone, I had to have the radio on. “I’m a musical person,” I rationalized. “I have to listen to music. It fulfills me.”

At the same time, I was bothered by the fact that I needed electricity to feel fulfilled. I was fervently wanting to reduce our electricity usage as much as possible, and besides, what did people do before there were radios and phonographs? What did musical people do?

They hummed while they worked. They sung hymns and lullabies to their children. They played an instrument and/or sang with their families in the evenings just before bed. Every so often, they played their instrument and/or sang at a community barn dance or wedding or other special event.

A few months ago, the antenna on my fourteen-year-old, large radio/CD player snapped off about a third of the way down. Now the nearest radio station was full of static.

“I can still play CD’s,” I comforted myself. But the radio is so big – three feet long, with both speakers attached – and our current home is so small. We used to store it on the back of the freezer, but I got tired of taking it off every time I wanted to get something out of the freezer. Not to mention the fact that the radio left a permanent dent on the freezer lid.

I was tired of dealing with that huge radio, but I left it on the floor downstairs anyway, just in case. I could always listen to a CD.

But I haven’t listened to a CD in at least two months. And the day I listened to it I was having a hormonal fit and thought the only way out of it was to listen to some worship music. (My hormonal fits are few and far between.)

For several weeks before, and ever since, practicing my electric keyboard and playing the guitar and singing most every day have provided my music fix.

And a few weeks ago, I dropped the keyboard. I think I’ll go back to it some day, but I realized that my writing fulfills me much more than playing music does.

I discovered the other day that my fifteen to twenty minutes of guitar time is enough. I am no longer craving the latest from Stephen Curtis Chapman or the Newsboys.

In fact, before we moved here I was looking forward to singing my heart out in the woods. But I don’t want to, because I don’t want to silence the beautiful music of nature.

And so I don’t.

I don’t miss the radio music. I don’t miss the CD’s. I enjoy singing when I do, but I no longer feel like I’ll wither up and die if I go three days without doing so.

The radio is now stowed away out of sight, and I’m beginning to contemplate getting rid of it – yes, even though we could probably easily replace the antenna.

I think I am finally learning to live with myself.

Which has made me feel freer.

May the blessing of inner peace be yours today,


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