informal essays

Reflections on 30

One of the weird things about getting older is feeling nostalgic about stuff that’s really not that old. Like, remember back in the good old days, when people didn’t just use their phones to play music off some streaming service they had to pay for or listen to ads, but they actually had a device dedicated to music, filled with songs that you actually owned and could just keep on there, and it couldn’t be interrupted by an onslaught of notifications and it had tons of space and a battery that lasted for days… ah, yes, the golden age of… 2008?

Ok, so that’s nostalgia about a golden possession. What about nostalgia for golden experiences? Not the one-time highlights of life, but those special combinations of people, places and times where something so unique and powerful and formative happened again and again and again… until one day it stopped, and maybe I finally appreciated that I never really appreciated how special that circumstance was until it was over. Remember Cornerstone? Remember house church in Chuck’s basement? Remember those years of leading worship at a small church with my brothers? Remember when Relient K used to play “Which to Bury, Us Or the Hatchet” straight into “Let It All Out” with the extended outro that sounded so sweet at every one of their shows for years until it got retired out of the lineup forever??

I used to wish those old golden experiences could come back, or mourn the fact that they couldn’t. I used to worry about the new golden experiences that replaced them, wanting to hold onto them so they don’t disappear too. Look how special Audiofeed is! It better not go the way of Cornerstone!

But I’m starting to see all these things in a new way. Time passes. Things change. Maybe, like everything else in this life, golden experiences aren’t supposed to last forever. Maybe my brothers and I weren’t all meant to live in the same city forever. Maybe Audiofeed’s not meant to last forever, either. And maybe that’s OK. I’m trying to learn to rest in my present experiences, fully embracing them for what they are now – not out of the fear that they might one day fade away, but out of the acceptance that they will, and out of the comfort that I will always be able to look back on them with joy, holding on to what those experiences taught me, and with the hope that new golden experiences will continue to replace them.

We still got that iPod Classic, by the way. It only comes out every now and then, but it still plays those golden tunes like the good old days, occasionally raising our children on mewithoutYou and the Welcome Wagon. There will come a day when the inexorable laws of physics will have their way with its hard drive, and it will come to an end, while the laws of physics carry on. And it will be OK. But that is not this day. So rock on, 30-year-old Josh. Rock on.

All flesh is like grass
    and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
    and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.
(1 Peter 1:24-25)

Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?…

For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!…

I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever.


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