Sometimes Little Can Be So Much

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21

How difficult is it to keep that scripture while living in a culture in which you are judged and evaluated primarily by the things that you own; the house you live in, the car you drive, the phone you make calls with (and can also do a million other things with, these days), the job you have, and an endless amount of other things. I'm going to start by talking about two dreams of mine, one which I have a difficult time seeing coming true, and another that I hope I will someday be able to do.

First, the one that seems rather unlikely at this point in my life, is to take however much money, clothes, and a couple other things that mean a lot to me - no more than can fit in a backpack - and just kinda take off; wander around like a nomad. It would be cool to do this and stay at friends' houses that I know across the country, but I think what would be even cooler is to meet new people and live with them for a while. Obviously not sketchy people... But like, make some kind of deal where I run errands for them, do some household chores for them and stuff, and they give me a roof and some food. And we just hang out, get to know eachother, and eventually part ways with a cool memory. There would obviously be a very rare circumstance where this could happen, but I don't know, I just think it would be so cool. To go somewhere random, meet and rely on random people, while being able to live a simple life where I can relax and serve. It would just be great...

Secondly, and this one is something that I feel rather strongly about, is to end my life with nothing. By this I mean in the sense of material possessions. Almost so much that I wouldn't even need a will. My dream is to get to a point where I grow old with my wife, life in a small little house, wherever it may be, and live as simply as possible. All my possessions being given away or donated to people I care about or who need them more than I do. Because it would lead to a place where, when I look at what I have, I could only see what matters: my wife, my family, my memories, and my God... with nothing else there to distract me. And of course, in order for me to get to that point, I need to live a life which consists of not building material treasures on this earth, and not getting overly attached to something that ultimately, in the end, moth will rust and dust will destroy.

To a lot of people, and myself included, this is an interesting goal for me to have. The reason being that I love to collect things. Now, a lot of things I won't even be able to give away because nobody would even want it; i.e. my ticket stub collection. My DVD collection will also probably be worthless because, when I'm dying, I doubt those will even be used anymore (which is very sad to me, by the way). But I do, I collect things. I still have my collection of Pokemon cards, I have a bin load of Beanie Babies, I have a decent amount of random coins (including all 50 state quarters), and other random things that I just like to hold on to. I started a shot glass collection like, 5 days ago, that I'm actually really excited about. All this to say, it's a funny thing for me to feel so strongly about. But I do, and it's because of this scripture (and others that are similar). I don't want God to have any inclination that I was over-invested in anything in the world; anything that could draw attention and glory away that is rightfully his.

I will close, with a story. A story that got me to start really thinking about this again. I work at a storage facility, and a tenant of ours who was renting out a locker, was homeless. I remember starting a conversation with him, complaining about the weather, and he began to describe how much more annoying it made it for him to sleep under the bridge down the street. And he wasn't even complaining, I was. He was just talking about it, with a "it was unfortunate but it's all good" kind of attitude. He had lost his key to his locker, and unfortunately needed to pay a locksmith to come open it for him, and believe it or not, he was less upset about having to cough up extra money than I would have been. I remember him mentioning something, and I said something to the affect of him being able to look that up on the computer. He doesn't even know how they work. Computers or cell phones. Once he got his locker open, he was upset that there were two backpacks in there instead of one, because it was just more for him to carry. Now, there's a very obvious temptation for this story to make you sad. But don't let it. I envied this guy. And while I obviously wished he was better off, he has something that I don't think he could have gotten had it not been for his situation. He was such a genuinly nice, cool guy, who had enough patience and gratitude for the both of, and this overwhelming calmness about him that was unbelievable. And I don't know him personally - I don't know his life, don't know if he was just having a good day, and don't know how he was 20 years ago. But I do know that at this time in his life, he had reached the point where he allowed himself to see past bad or annoying things, and just be content. I don't know what he did to get what I'm sure is just the little money that he had, but he found ways. And he was content with having so little, because he found so much within simply living out his life. And that's what I envied about him; that's what I wish I could, day in and day out, say about myself. That life, love, friendships, experiences, and most of all God - those are the things I hold on to, and the things that I treasure, and that I allow to define who I am and what I believe in. To not be led astray by junk, money, and greed. This guy, while having to grind through so many hardships and things that really suck about his situation, so obviously had a sense of freedom and liberation from the things that matter way too much to people in this world. And it was not only refreshing, but an ultimately humbling thing to see.



When used correctly, the word counterproductive is, in itself, its antonym in purest form.


Set Play vs. A Sequence of Options

Kobe Bryant is the best player in basketball right now. This is obviously very debatable, but as far as I'm concerned, he is. Spike Lee, who may or may not hold the same opinion, made an hour and a half long documentary on him; Kobe: Doin' Work. It was an interesting documentary... It wasn't like "let's start from the beginning and show you where he was born". It also wasn't one of those "let's go through all the adversity he's overcome blah blah blah". He introduced it as "A day in the life of Kobe Bryant", but it wasn't that either. It was one game. He had about 30 cameras on Kobe, he mic'd him, and then once Spike Lee edited all the film, he had him comment on the video. So it was basically like watching the Lakers-Spurs game from Kobe's perspective with him commenting on it as it went. Very cool, actually. But anyways... There was one thing that Kobe said about the game and more specifically about how his team operates that stuck out to me. Something that he claimed made them a better team; set plays vs. a sequence of options.

A set play is a predetermined pattern the coach draws up for the players to run. Therefore, assuming the players run it correctly, the result of the play ultimately lies on the coach’s shoulders. A coach holds more responsibility for the success of the play than the players do. If the set play seems as though it is going to fail, a smart player will deviate from the play, but even if the player scores, the play itself still failed. Now, what Kobe refers to as a ‘sequence of options’ is not drastically different, however it holds important implications. These ‘options’ come from a set formation. One easy example of this is the triangle offense. Three players, in a triangle, and running different plays from there (I apologize if explaining that insulted your intelligence). This formation provides endless amount of possibilities for these three players. The slight difference that I speak of, however, is that the responsibility of success has shifted. Now, the coach runs the players through as many hypothetical scenarios that he can think of, and good coaches can usually hit close to all of them. But in the heat of the moment, it is ultimately up to the players to make the right decision, given the scenario they are presented with. So the coach, instead of dictating a set play, places more trust in his players by giving them a simple formation, putting in motion a ‘sequence of options’.

So, what am I getting at? If you’re a basketball coach, this is probably a conversation you would love to get into. If you’re not, you’re sincerely hoping that question is rhetorical. And it is. Because what Kobe’s comments got me thinking about, and what I’m trying to get at, is the mindset with which you approach your “offensive possessions”, if you will. And by that I mean an endless amount of different things: work, interactions, parties, dates, dentist appointments, weekends, a TV show… anything. This blog, for that matter. Because the way I see it, you can do one of two things. You can make up your mind beforehand of what you think these things are going to be, what they’re going to offer you, how you’re going to interact with them, or, you could go into them open-minded, trusting yourself to positively react to whatever the occasion throws at you. One important thing to remember is that there is always a defense. There are always going to be things or people that will get in the way of your perfect plan… whether you react optimistically or emotionally is entirely up to you.

I know this is getting long, and I’m sorry about that, but I must add that another way this could also be broken down is whether you go into these things selfishly wanting them to benefit yourself, or whether you’re making an effort to evaluate the ‘sequence of options’ that will mutually benefit everyone there; perhaps even at your own expense (I have to challenge you a little bit, right?) Lastly, and I promise that I actually mean that, I think one reason people insist on drawing up “set plays” is because they’re afraid of making the wrong decision, or not knowing how to act, in a situation that is foreign to them. Trust yourself. More likely than not, you’re a lot less confident in your ability to do so than you should be. You can easily make choices that will universally encourage; so do it.

I hope that connection wasn’t too much of a stretch, but that’s what it got me thinking about, and maybe this will help you figure out whether or not it’s something you should be thinking about. Hope you enjoyed it.