The reminders have become painfully frequent—and therefore, nearly impossible to ignore: I think I’ve actually, factually slipped into the ‘old coot’ stage of life.
The latest clue surfaced earlier this week, when my dear wife suggested that I ‘reconnect the stereo’ following the completion of a recent home improvement project.
(FYI to the Bluetooth generation: ‘The stereo’ is essentially a music-playing device. Or more precisely, a set of devices—also known as ‘components’—that collectively weigh about 150 pounds, are physically linked by ‘wires’, and require sturdy furnishings upon which to stand. Pre-recorded songs are fed into the system, not by digital download, but by antiquated plastic storage containers known as ‘albums’, ‘LPs’ or ‘CDs’.)
At first, I protested meekly: Why bother? Why bother lugging all the bulky stereo components back from the storage space in the basement…and then go through the painstaking process of connecting wires and matching up color-coded RCA jacks?
I knew it would take hours. And in a matter of seconds, I could already be listening to the very same songs—the vast majority of which are now stored on my iPhone (carrying weight: 7.6 oz).
Need to crank up the volume a bit? Our JBL Flip 3 Bluetooth speaker (a real bruiser, weighing in at 15.6 oz) is more than up to the task of filling a room with tunage.
Eventually, though, I relented. This stereo, you see, has a rather venerable provenance. While some components have been replaced (and others added) through the years, the system originally came into our lives as a wedding gift – some 39 years ago, today.
Gerri knew that, of course. My Sweetie insisted on me re-making the stereo connections largely not as a matter of practicality, but as a function of the heart. She remembered the history. She remembered the joy it brought her soon-to-be-hubby…when a group of dear brothers, cousins and friends pooled their resources—and ventured beyond our ‘official’ gift registry—to surprise us with that gift, oh-so-many LPs and CDs ago.
I was, no doubt, too oblivious to fully appreciate the mutuality she began offering me that day. “My” joy became “her” joy, too.
I thought about the beauty in this gift—beauty, 39 years in the making—when I sat down to listen to Coltrane, played over the newly reconnected stereo speakers in our front room the other day.
Right away, I noticed how “full” the sound was: bass-and-drums coming from this speaker…sax-and-piano coming from that one over there. It was an immensely satisfying sensation: I knew that for all its convenience, the JBL Flip 3 could never come close to matching this pleasing sonic experience.
And I realized: Perhaps you actually need to be an old coot…in order to perceive this sort of beauty. It can’t be digitally downloaded. It doesn’t happen in an instant. But with patience, and mutuality, and partnership, it can become a gift beyond measure. A pearl of great price…in stereo!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.