Recently, I’ve been on a shopping spree. And by spree, I mean that I went shopping. Besides this shopping outing that I embarked on, the last time I went to a mall with the sole purpose of buying clothes was like. When Christ was born. “But wait Jeremy! You weren’t born back then!” Exactly. I go to Park Royal because there’s a Future Shop there. If I could wear an Xbox 360, I would.
My friend Daina had planted in me the seeds of “looking good.” To which I replied, “Honey, you can’t look much better than this.” Well, sort of. Well, no. And so that weekend I went to get a nice pair of jeans. And then the next weekend I went back to the mall with no specific shopping aim, but just to look around and see what caught my eye! I ended up buying some really nice stuff, and yeah I was satisfied with my purchases. Yes, I thought I looked nice in the stuff (otherwise I wouldn’t have forked over the money, even if they were on sale). But it actually made me ponder a bit, that from one sentence from a friend (not blaming her, by the way), my state of mind went from trying to look alright and keep warm to trying to look fantastic and keep cool.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good. You want to be presentable; you want how you treat yourself and your body to reflect your attitude, and your level of respect for yourself and for others. And you want people to think that you look nice – there’s nothing wrong with that. To an extent, you want others to be impressed by what you wear. But it’s when looking great becomes an obsession that it turns into a problem. It was interesting that for about 2 weeks, I put a lot more focus into what I was wearing, how I compared to other people, and what I wanted to buy next. When you try to impress people not by your virtues but by your clothes, then you’ve cheapened the value of yourself, and are basing it on something that is not unique to you, and ultimately will not last.
Relient K has a song titled Apathetic Way to Be. The message of the song is, more or less, also given by St. Paul when he says: “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want” (Gal 5:16-17). Paul isn’t saying that the flesh is outright evil, for both our flesh and our spirit were created by God, and are therefore both good. But we are tainted by sin, and so we need to be guided by our spirit, and by THE Spirit, so that we will make the right decisions in life.
There’s a part in the first verse of Apathetic during which lead singer Matthew Thiessen sings, “The things that I’ll take on, I soon shrug off ‘cause I know no one will ever be content with the way things are or with what they’ve got – so I’ve given up and now I’m just indifferent.”
During the chorus, he sings, “You all laugh at me like I’m not happy with any thing any time any where. And the half of me’s all about apathy, and the other half just doesn’t care.” Besides the humour of apathy meaning not caring and so saying that in his entirety he does not care, what is he trying to say?
Materialism, and being “of this world.”: in the verse, Thiessen is saying that these days, people are so caught up in how they look, what kind of car they drive, how much money they have, that no matter what they have, they will always end up wanting more. And the sad thing is, because they think that they need more, they will never be satisfied and thus never content and happy. Too many people are paying too much attention to things that just don’t matter. Celebrities and their lives, tabloids...what does all that information (if you can call it that) amount to in the end? Not much. The fact that according to a Mar. 24th CBC news poll, 35% of people would choose their blackberry over their spouse just makes me want to throw up. It is much better to be indifferent, as Thiessen says, and just give up with trying to be truly happy with that kind of thing – because it’s never going to happen.
In the chorus, he is singing about how people laugh at him, and might think less of him or actually feel sorry for him because he is “missing out.”; missing out on the gossip, the popularity, the money, the drinking, etc. We should all be looking for the one thing that will outlast all other things, and yet because of that, people may see us as being picky, or unsatisfied with everything. But when you know the ultimate Truth, how could you settle for anything less? And the little wit about apathy at the end of the chorus just says that we shouldn’t care about what people think of us for yearning for more than this world has to offer.
All the riches and physical pleasures and nice clothes of this world will not fulfill us one bit. We should be paying attention to our hearts – our virtues and our good qualities; the things that make us, “us.” We should be paying attention to what we are doing in our lives and how we are doing them. Whether our intentions are pure, whether we are doing what we know we should be doing; what we ought to be doing. And as St. Paul said, it’s difficult, because the flesh is opposed to the Spirit. But The Holy Spirit is the one that will last. When all else in this world fades away, when the Versace and the currencies and the movies fade away, the Spirit of God and our spirits are the only things that will last (until the Resurrection of the body) and nothing else will matter then. So why should anything else matter now? Realizing this, REALLY realizing it, is probably the first step that we all need to take. In the sense that I’ve chattered on about, we should be apathetic to this world, but oh so...anti-apathetic to God. As Thiessen sings near the end of Apathetic,
“it’s so hard to see the reality that the end will be the end of things. But our hearts are all we get to bring, so let’s go ahead and make them worth something.”
Make our hearts worth something? Yes, please.