Monday, July 16, 2018

My Radiator Springs Moment

I know it's viewed at the bottom of the Pixar franchises, but I love the Cars movies.  Particularly the first one.  I think you really have to be from a small town to appreciate the underlying sentiment in that film.  One of the strongest emotional beats in the film comes when Sally explains what happened to the small town of Radiator Springs that brought it to its run down condition.  As she explains the decline of small-town America as a result of the rise of the interstate, the film plays "Our Town" by James Taylor in the background.  Written by Randy Newman, the song is a mediation on how society has changed, moving away from the idealized small-town life.  James Taylor was the perfect choice to perform the song, as his voice brings the wistful lament to fruition.

Long ago, but not so very long ago
The world was different, oh yes it was
You settled down and you built a town and made it live
And you watched it grow
It was your town

Time goes by, time brings changes, you change, too
Nothing comes that you can't handle, so on you go
Never see it coming, the world caves in on you
On your town
Nothing you can do

Main street isn't main street anymore
No one seems to need us like they did before
It's hard to find a reason left to stay
But it's our town
Love it anyway
Come what may, it's our town

I had my own Radiator Springs moment on the drive back from San Antonio.  Typically, I would jump at the chance to get on the 130 toll and just make good time on a much less traveled road.  Or to stick to the interstate and head back up I35 to keep traveling at 75 miles an hour.  But this weekend, to avoid the mess that is I35 in Temple, we jumped on 317 to head up through downtown Belton, past Temple, to Moody and Hewitt, before getting back on the interstate at Waco. 

There is something that is missed when we zoom by on the interstate, as it rarely ever brings you through the heart of a city but rather often just off to the side.  What springs up on the interstate is most often the same chains you see in every city you pass through.  You miss the soul of the city, what makes it unique.  Better architecture, new discoveries.

All to often, I'm so focused on the destination.  To get there, to be done with the drive, and to be able to do the checklist of things I have for whatever the endpoint is.

I need to be better at the journey.  About enjoying the moments along the way and finding new and interesting things along the way.  To slow down and allow them to be discovered.

In my daily readings I've moved on from Lamentations in my daily reading to Ecclesiastes.  I'm working through the more lyrical and poetic books of the Bible.  Psalms, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and then Proverbs.  I always had a picture of Ecclesiastes as a bit nihilistic, perhaps from one too many focusing only the "life is a vapor" references.  What struck me in Ecclesiastes is how Kohelet (perhaps Solomon), seems to advocate the opposite of nihilism.  Perhaps it is just my outlook, but I came away from Ecclesiastes appreciating life and time as a gift, to be enjoyed.

"So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.  Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 8:15

So, I want to enjoy the small towns.  I want to find those unique places.  I want to take those moments to breathe and enjoy the scenery. 

I pray for joy in all things.  To find contentment from the Lord and not from external circumstances.

Especially in traffic.

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