“The greatest indicator of a loss of meaning is not that we have become weary of pain, but that we have become weary of pleasure…” G. K. Chesterton
Sometimes I wonder if each person’s life is like a certain brand of gum. Some people are like Trident, or Big Red, which both hold their flavor for a long time. And then some people are like Extra Cherry, or Fruit Stripes gum, or Bubbleyum that lose their flavor a lot quicker. All of them are initially sweet, but somewhere along the line, they begin to lose their taste, and all you want to do is throw them out and start chewing a new piece.
What is it that causes life to lose its flavor? What is it that causes certain people to stop enjoying life, to sink into boredom, laziness, depression, and whatever other symptom of flavor loss?
I think I agree with Chesterton: its not pain we are in danger of, its pleasure. Its true…there are things in this life that bring pleasure. But it never lasts. Our appetites for amusement and our search for satisfaction are never fulfilled. We just keep coming back for more; for a quick fix. You know that life doesn’t mean anything the moment that the things that should be satisfying are no longer enough, and we get tired of even the things that were meant to be good: love, beauty, trust, truth, relationships, health, wholeness.
I wonder if the world was created in such a way that those things that are pleasurable and those things that are meant to be enjoyed are just not enough to satisfy. I wonder if God organized creation in such a way that it did contain many good things taht were meant for our enjoyment, but fell short of being able to bring true contentment. Mark Buchanon, a favorite author of mine made this statement: “it is God who made the world as such… it is not so much a design flaw, but a designed flaw…a glitch wired into the system.” The world is simply not enough.
King Solomon was a guy who didn’t deny himself any pleasures to the eye of man. He was the richest guy in the world, he was the wisest guy in history, he probably had the most sex out of any guy in history with a harem filled with hundreds, maybe even thousands of women, and what he concludes in the book of Ecclesiastes is astounding to me: “everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
When you leave God out of the equation, when you spend your life consuming the things that you think will bring you pleasure, but forget the one who created those things and who is the originator of life, it doesn’t work. Jesus said it this way: “do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which I can give to you…”
I guess the reason I write all this is because I’m scared. I’ve seen the way our culture wants us to be consumers. I’ve sensed that we are becoming more and more entertainment driven, and as a result, I look around myself and I see a lot of empty lives. I see a lot of people whose lives have lost flavor. I see areas in my own life where I’m beginning to lose flavor. I wonder if from here it is just a downward spiral of lives just waiting for the “next big thing,” or the next new commodity, or the next fix, when all along God offers an invitation to fullness of life (John 10:10 “I come so that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”)
What type of gum are you?