I was driving to work this morning, listening to the radio. I heard an announcement for a concert video showing in HD at a local theater. “Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event,” said the announcer.
I started thinking about what was going to make it distinctive. It would be on a huge screen. There would be a big crowd. There will be lots of theatres.
But it is still a recording of a live concert.
And although it will only happen once like that, I realized that everything that happens in my life will only happen once. Everything is conditioned by what came before and will condition what comes next.
I realized that the appeal of the advertiser is to say, “Whatever you were planning to do with the only Monday, August 18, 2008 that you will ever have, decide to spend it watching the same video at the same time as lots of other people are watching it.”
And I realized that I don’t particularly like having someone tell me that if I miss this event, I will miss the most important thing that is happening that night.
I already have a meeting scheduled that night with a group of guys deeply concerned for the lives of about 1500 people. That’s a once in a lifetime event, too. It could be moved, I supposed, so we can go to the concert video, but we’ve been planning our event longer than they have. And we can always watch the video later.
Ah, but we would miss out on the high-definition, big screen, simultenaity of the concert. We would miss out on the experience.
But our experience for that night–our conversation and our prayer and our decisions–matters too.
Every experience is unique. My conversation with a confused grieving person yesterday was unique. It mattered immensely for her…and for me. My walk with my wife tonight, my teaching, my reading, my laughing at a video of a clown hitting a carnival “ring the bell” game–all of these are unique experiences, once in a lifetime.
I don’t have a problem with the concert. I would like to see the video. But I realized this morning that I resent being told that if I miss this, it will never happen again, and therefore my life will be somehow less-less interesting, less cool, less spiritual. The former is true. The latter? The announcer doesn’t get to decide that.
Oh. And thanks for spending the past few minutes reading this. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
I hope it was worth it.