I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. I’m kind of addicted. Probably why I haven’t been writing
much at all. Just been soaking up all of that good info. It’s good to listen more than you speak. At least that’s the excuse I keep giving myself when I feel inferior for not writing more often ever.
Anyway, one of my favorite podcasts to listen to is called The Memory Palace. It’s a collection of historically-based stories that usually run anywhere from 3-10 minutes in length. I love story-telling, and this is story-telling at its finest. I highly recommend it. So a few days ago, I was listening to a story about the man who sat and guarded the first atomic bomb as it hung in the desert during a particularly violent storm in the 1940′s. The atomic bomb, the weapon that would be a breakthrough in military combat, effectively end World War 2 and catapult the world into the Cold War wasn’t called a bomb by those whose level of security clearance was high enough to know about it.
It was known simply as “The Gadget.”
No big deal. Nothing to see here. Just a “gadget.” The most destructive object ever created by human intellect and ingenuity, designed to destroy lives at an unprecedented rate and on a massive scale. It was just a “gadget” to the people who were conceiving it, planning it, building it. I suppose if they had referred to it as the Widespread Death and Misery Machine, it would have been difficult to give their life to work on that kind of project. So they substituted a euphemism for it. Something that would make it seem more palatable, less harmful, more worthy of commitment. A bomb is destructive, deadly, horrifying. A “gadget” is a tool, it’s whimsical, it’s harmless.
As I pondered the implications of this, my first thought went to all of the gadgets that we use today. Things we think we can’t live without and yet may or may not be bringing much death and destruction to our relationships or even our souls. But since I’m not ready to ditch all of this technology to live in an Amish paradise (I won’t even consider giving up my iPhone. It may destroy me one day, but what a way to go!), I quickly dragged those thoughts to the Trash Bin and hit “empty.” It was then that I was reminded of something similar, but different.
We all struggle with issues or pursuits that can potentially destroy us. Things we think we can’t do without but might end up wiping us out. As Donald Miller puts it in Blue Like Jazz, “sometimes the things we want most in life are the things that will kill us.” And we all face this struggle. But most of the time, we call it something different, something that makes it seem less deadly or have less power over us. We all have a “gadget” that, if deployed in all of its force, would bring us down, and possibly even everyone around us.
I thought of words and phrases, things like “comfort food,” “cocktail,” “hooking up.” That’s not an exhaustive list, and I’m not saying all of those things are bad, depending on the circumstances or your own definitions. But if you’re honest and self-aware, it would only take you a few moments to evaluate the things in your life that are harmful, things you’ve packaged in your mind and heart in a way so as to make them more acceptable. Less of a reminder of the potential harm they can do. After all, we’re all “medicating” in some way or another.
So this calls for some serious introspection on our part. As we evaluate our lives and hearts, we must ask ourselves, is this thing really just a “gadget?” Or is it a bomb that, when fully deployed, could bring destruction and devastation to my heart, relationships, or even my life.
It’s time to inspect our gadgets.