Cassette Tape Ghosts & Other Tales of Mystery & Imagination

I was doing some cleaning in my office today, and I found some cassette tapes that various people gave me when I came to the church I now serve as pastor.

I don't usually clean my office unless I am beginning to feel like I have too much to do. For some strange reason that defies logic, when I am busiest and have a lot going on in my life, I tend to shut down a bit. It's like this limiter switch inside my head that is triggered to the "off" position when there is just way too much junk to download. I suspect that if they diagnosed such things back in the day, I would have been one slapped with the "ADD" label and medicated to the point where I didn't have any imagination left at all. Instead I was just spanked. I know that's not a popular form of discipline nowadays, but it sure worked wonders for me. I just learned that there were times it was okay to be scattered and weird, and times it wasn't. Most of the time I chose to daydream anyway, and just take my lumps.

That's another good lesson I learned about life: Sometimes people don't get your dreams or your really good ideas. One of my favorite quotes from Edgar Allan Poe is, "Those who dream by day are cognizant of a great many things that escape those who dream only by night." Here's to "those who dream."

So anyway, when I begin to feel that limiter switch in my head engaging, I start to tidy up a bit.

Today, my office was in a wreck, so it was good timing. As I tidied, I came across the aforementioned stack of cassette tapes, and I took their picture. These tapes are audio recordings of sermons from several of my predecessors here at the church I serve. They were inexplicably given to me when I first arrived at my new church, by a variety of people.

I still don't know why.

Did the givers think I should learn something from these preachers?

Did they want me to style my sermons more like the BFP (Beloved Former Pastor) from the 1980's?

I just don't know.

To begin, I don't own a cassette tape player. I think I got rid of my last cassette tape player around 1998 along with all of my cassette tapes. So, I couldn't play any of these tapes if I wanted to... and I don't... want to. If they were cassettes of REO Speedwagon, The Scorpions or even England Dan and John Ford Coley, I would probably want to listen to them. But I am not really interested in listening to the Ghosts of Pastors Past. At least not enough to go seek out a tape player in order to play the cassettes.

Does this make me a bad person?

I admit that there is a certain amount of curiosity regarding the tapes. That would explain why I kept them. And I imagine if they were on CDs, I would have already popped one in my computer to give it a listen.

But they are on cassette, and for this I am grateful.

I am grateful because at this point the only real reason why I would want to listen to these ghostly voices from the past would be to compare myself to them, and that's not a good reason at all.

Plus I have enough voices from the past floating around in my head. I don't need new ones.

I listen to Andy Stanley's Leadership Podcasts once in a while. Andy is the pastor of a mega church. I tend to be over-critical of mega churches, in part because I am slightly jealous of their resources. It would be nice, for example, not to have to go and turn on my own CD recorder in the middle of the worship service so that the sermons can get recorded.

This is light years beyond where we were before I got here, though. Apparently, there was a little old man of 98 who used to handle the cassette tape recordings, and wouldn't let anyone else help. I never had the chance to meet him because he became too infirmed to do it literally right before I arrived. He served his church, though. God bless him.

I bet he was the guy who recorded the cassettes that are in my office.

Anyway, Andy Stanley has this quote that he attached to his computer and stares at it every day. It says, "When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near."

That's pretty ominous. It's also another reason why I don't want to ever listen to those tapes. This is true for any leader in any type of organization. If my only frame of reference is to look back and compare what is happening now with what happened "way back when," then I run the risk of letting my memories guide me rather than my dreams. In fact, if I let them, my memories can become so powerful and so unwieldy that I can no longer move at all, even if I am trying to dream.

My office isn't quite as clean as it should be, but my limiter switch seems to have released itself a bit. I should throw those cassettes out with the rest of the stuff that I am compulsively hanging on to, but need to be rid of at last.

Maybe I'll keep them for a bit longer. I might need another reminder of how important it is to daydream one day, and they'll be there.

Comments

  1. You've described my chaos tolerance theory - that each person has a certain level of life chaos that they can handle. Once you've hit it, something has to come back under control.

    For my hubby- it's the garage. I wipe out the kitchen sink every night. Not in an OCD way, just so I know when I wake up the next day, at least one thing is as it should be.

    Somewhere in Maslow's heirarchy, there is the need for chaos to be reigned in. And I'm sure it's before we can dream, much less go on to achieve them.

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