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waste and wealth

so. i've been a research subject for almost a week now.

i am one of those [apparently] rare people who still wear conventional contact lenses. for those of you lucky people who always ate your carrots as a kid and don't know the lingo, that means my contacts last for one whole year before i switch to a new pair. during my last visit to the optometrist, they roped this old dinosaur into a lens study which requires me to wear daily disposable contacts for one week. oh, and i get fifty bucks for it. i figured, what the hey.

i am finding it very odd and almost painful to throw away a pair of contact lenses EVERY SINGLE DAY. now, granted, i have decided that these particular lenses pretty much suck, and while i am at work i find that i want nothing more than to get home, peel them off, and slip my glasses on. you would think that throwing these lenses away would give me some sort of satisfaction, but nooooooo. afterwards, i just look at the ziploc baggie filled with the week's worth of identical molded plastic containers and peelable lids holding sterile solution and one contact lens each and think: what a waste.

i would like to be able to say i am not a wasteful person. unfortunately, this is probably much farther [further?] from the truth than even i realize. overall, i am pretty much a lazy slug; i find it hard to be bothered with finding uses for the soon to be gone bad and almost full half gallon of milk. or sorting recyclables, AND THAT'S NOT TO MENTION dragging them out to the remote recycling center that is open for about eight minutes on saturday mornings.

that's only hearsay of course, since i don't even know where this recycling center is, exactly.

anyway, looking at those carefully crafted containers every day this week, reminded me of just how much STUFF we have. my... how spoiled we are. even speaking as one who is nowhere near upper class [and barely middle class, if that], i recognize often that my life resembles one of wealth and riches to so many in this world. and yet... i find so much to complain about. it is so easy to find both worth and discontent in the things of this world, and become distracted from what is important.

now, in case you haven't been paying attention, i'm a big fan of andrew peterson. if you ever have a chance to see him live, DO IT. he's fantastically goofy and down-to-earth. in light of all these thoughts, i keep coming back to his song titled "the land of the free". [side note: he plays it on a charango, a small stringed instrument used in south america, the body of which is made of -- and i'm not making this up -- the shell of an armadillo.] the song, while admittedly oversimplified, is a reminder to me that perspective can be everything.

The Land of the Free

Little Elba how’s the sun in South America?
does it shine upon the faces of the poor?
do they see in it the brilliance of the place that’s been prepared
and dwell upon the hope of what’s in store?

or are they just like me? do they only see
an opportunity to complain about the heat?

Little Elba, how’s the rain in South America?
does it fall upon the rooftops of the sick?
do they thank the Lord for coming up with such a great idea
and dream about a place beyond all this?

or are they just like us? do they gripe and fuss
about the rain and mud when they’ve had too much?


‘cause I’m just a little jealous of the nothing that you have
unfettered by the wealth of a world that we pretend is gonna last
they say God blessed us with plenty, I say you’re blessed with poverty
‘cause you never stop to wonder whether earth is just a little better than
the Land of the Free

well, I’m weary of the spoils of my ambition
and I’m shackled by the comfort of my couch
I wish I had the courage to deny these of myself
and start to store my treasure in the clouds

‘cause this is not my home, I do not belong
where the antelope and the buffalo roam


and I’m just a little jealous of the freedom that you have
unfettered by the wealth of a world that we pretend is gonna last
they say God blessed us with plenty, I say you’re blessed with poverty
‘cause you never stop to wonder whether earth is just a little better than
the Land of the Free

so I hope you’re safe and dry in South America
‘cause I’m feeling pretty good in Tennessee
may you never be so happy you forget about your home...
your home in the Land of the Free

Words and music by Andrew Peterson.

addendum: in my valiant search for you fine readers of a sound clip of [what i thought was] a song only played live by andy p, i have found that it is a hidden track on his 2001 album clear to venus. all this time, one of my favorite ap songs, on the ONE ap cd i do not own... this greatly saddens me. i suddenly feel i NEED this cd... oh, the irony.

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2006 at 08:51PM by Registered Commentermdog | Comments8 Comments

Reader Comments (8)

Wow. Amazing lyrics and amazing post. This is really thought provoking for me.

You write: "It is so easy to find both worth and discontent in the things of this world, and become distracted from what is important.' - I struggle with this every day of my life, what to place value on, what to be content in, what to treasure and what to let go. Some days the answers come much easier than others.

Mar 7, 2006 at 09:58PM | Unregistered CommenterTB
This reminds me of one night just after Thanksgiving in New Orleans. I had spent the day serving food to some of the people affected by Katrina, and I was laying in my cot in the gym we were staying in. Rain began to pound against the metal roof of our gym, and as I lay there relaxing to the pings on the roof - one of my favorite sounds - the thought crossed my mind of the blue tarps I had seen on rooftops all over town that day. The people I had been talking to that afternoon were now likely getting dripped on as they slept, and I'm sure the sound of pouring rain was not at all comforting to them. In that moment I thanked God for his generosity to me - for simply providing a safe and dry place to sleep. It's all about perspective. Until you've been there and you've seen with your own eyes, I don't think you can fully appreciate what it's like out there where most of the world lives.
Mar 7, 2006 at 11:24PM | Unregistered CommenterJared
Mdog, please stop writing convicting posts. I don't read your blog to be convicted, but entertained. It's all about me, you know.

Yea, you hit on a big one for me. I'm soooo wealthy. I have so much blessing. I have so much crap. And yet that crap has a hold of me and it's so hard to give it up.

There is this part of me that says, "If I were single, I would live more simply." And that sounds all holy and such (and like I'm blaming my wife). But we just buy different stuff. All my books, computer, music, tech, magic, camera gear... that's okay. Really. God is honored by all that stuff. It's my wife's crap that dishonors God. She is the sinner.

And did I say I was 80 lbs overweight? Another symptom of my wealth.

Thank God for grace. Grace that not only convicts and forgives... but maybe will even transform.
Mar 8, 2006 at 10:32AM | Unregistered Commenterblogging paul
i'll stop writing convicting posts when you stop giving convicting talks...
Mar 8, 2006 at 11:12AM | Registered Commentermdog
Mar 8, 2006 at 05:23PM | Unregistered Commenterblogging paul
[uh oh... he's thinking about it!]

Mar 8, 2006 at 06:07PM | Registered Commentermdog

Almost two years later--I was looking for these words. Love that song, love that CD.

Mar 3, 2008 at 11:55AM | Unregistered CommenterJennifer, Snapshot

thanks much, brother

Mar 19, 2008 at 03:45PM | Unregistered CommenterEstherfu

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