Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow and Birth. What are Things Ending in "days," Alex?

My 30th birthday approacheth. I haven't been bothered by that fact until we got a snow day yesterday. I live in central Arkansas where it isn't often that we acquire enough snowfall to play in. We typically get just enough to threaten our road surface integrity, which around here is like 1/2 inch. I think the state of Arkansas gets to share two or three dump trucks retrofitted with snowplows and sand spreaders. So when accumulation beyond a couple inches occurs, it's kind of a big deal. We get to play in it.

I know what you're thinking. "Man, I wish I could drive one of those dump trucks." Believe me, I get it. But the second thing you're probably thinking is, "What does that snow talk have to do with your turning 30, Sir Geidl?" Thanks for asking. I realized a cold fact yesterday while playing with my kids in the snow: I get bored with stuff that I used to intensely enjoy. Yesterday, after the building of the snowman, I was ready to call it a day, go inside, and sit around in pajamas. But my kids, who are 3.5 and 5, were having a great time picking up snow balls, making snow angels, and simply walking around in the fluffy white goodness in their grandma-issued snow boots.

It made me sad that I don't still have that level of fascination, especially for something that's pretty rare around here. I used to play in the snow until my face hurt and toes were purple; now I just want to drive the dump truck that gets rid of it. I used to love swimming; now I worry about taking my shirt off in public. I had a special affection for building forts out of Legos; now I just want them cleaned up off the floor. I used to adore playing with Transformers; now I only worry about getting caught playing with them.

I know this is a normal part of the maturing process, but there is something about our sophisticated society that steals our innocent wonder. If you've ever been to a remote area in another country, you know what I'm talking about. Cynicism is much less apparent in Uzbekistan. Adolescents don't act like teenagers in Thailand. Adults still like our silly youth group relay games in China. Big, tall white dudes are still fascinating in the Philippines despite the fact that the US military (mostly a bunch of big, tall white dudes) had a strong presence there for many years.

I wonder how my faith is affected by this "maturing." I've been a Christian for about 16 years, and there's a lot of goodness that doesn't excite me anymore. What!? That dude's donkey be talking to him! Not surprising anymore. The fact that Jesus didn't condemn the adulteress that was about to be stoned is now broken down to a theological conundrum rather than a simple picture of of a loving and forgiving manGod who was rocking society off its religious feet. If worship songs are too old, I don't like them, unless they are are revised to reflect a more modern style, which means it better have some killer drum beats and sick electric guitar fx. If Scripture is over taught, I don't care to hear it. I find myself trying so hard to step away from the cliche, that I'm rejecting anything that was old and/or exciting in my youth. That's troubling to me as I am supposed to be maturing into a new decade of wisdom.

Maybe I just need to go play in the snow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tastes That Make Me See

My wife came across a delightful find this week at The Targ. The treasure is a little secret from down under known as the TimTam. It's a crispy cookie rectangular prism covered in chocolate often with some bonus filling like caramel. We first came across these little quadrilaterals of goodness 7 years ago exactly where you'd expect--The Philippines. We found them in a small grocery next to the stinky fresh fish aisle and Pocky, the chocolate cream covered bisquit sticks.
It's not so much that the TimTam dominates the cookie universe. They're pretty tasty, but what I like most is the fact that we found something in America to remind us of our journeys in other lands. Usually it's the other way around. When traveling, we get excited about ordering a burger from McDonald's in China or buying a 80-degree Coke in Egypt because they remind us of Home. (Home is capitalized to indicate America, the standard for home). But to see something trickle through our isolated walls and remind us of Third World living conditions is rare. TimTams remind me of short, tan people. They remind me of the skinny girl giving all her food to her little brother at the feeding center. They bring back an aroma of diesel fumes and the sound of dude yelling from his custard cart at sunrise in attempt to sell rotten custard to people who aren't yet awake. Eating squid. Singing Jesus songs to attentive children in a tight alley. Roosters in the city. A remote village with a hand-built stone pathway. Bamboo houses built up on stilts with nearby banana trees. Shy village kids all wearing flip flops on brown feet greeting us with their only English, "Good morning, sir. Good morning, ma'am." Mangy dogs with crooked tails (They all had crooked tails for some reason). Smog. VCDs. My wife. And tasty cookies from Australia. Tim to the Tams.