Some things you just don't talk about because you know the conversation isn't going anywhere. Linda says we don't have room, "but I know you're going to do what you want to do." She's right, don't you know. So I didn't say anything to her when I put a lowball bid on an upright bass I saw on eBay. From the photos, it looks like a beautiful old instrument. I couldn't detect any cracks, the wood was beautifully figured, and the owner needed to move it fast because he was moving and didn't want to haul it. Besides, it was in NYC. I contacted my nephew who lives down there. Walt said he'd be willing to pick it up for me.
The bidding ended last night, and I didn't get it. I could have bid more and it still would have been a killer deal, but it is what it is. I am surprised however, at my reaction to losing out on this instrument. Most of the time when these kinds of things happen, I can shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well," but through the night and into the morning, I've found myself brooding on it, knowing that I'm not likely to come across a deal like that again anytime soon. I've not usually thought of myself as particularly materialistic or selfish, but this is making me reexamine my self image.
Don't you know that "stuff" can be quite spiritual. The ordinary objects that populate our lives are more than mere objects. Their fingers often pluck at heartstrings, stirring emotions and fanning flames of desire we didn't even know were smoldering deep within us. The Biblical prohibitions against images is ancient testimony of the power this material world has to capture our loyalties, investing itself with the promise of divinity and luring us away from the worship of God alone. The fact of the matter is we often love our stuff more than we love God and those made in his image.
I love music. I love it much more than I am good at it. In this instance, I love the sound of an acoustic bass. It has a resonance unmatched by any electronic device, and in appearance, the artificial substitutions are left in the dust by the magnificence of a quality upright bass with its finely figured wood, its carved body and headstock. It is easy for me to get lost in the sound, the timbre of the instrument and in the intricacy of the music itself. In other words, it would be easy for me to idolize it. No, I wouldn't prostrate myself before it, but if the music and the instrument itself becomes my source of fulfillment, it has usurped that place within me that rightly belongs to God alone.
All this is to say that the disappointment I felt in losing the bid is a warning for me to take care of my soul, to make sure my heart is right, lest my life become disordered. I don't like disappointment any more than anyone else, but perhaps occasionally it's a good thing, helping us to examine the state of our hearts, making sure our priorities are in order. For that, I can give thanks today, even as I wish I had bid a few dollars more.