Freedom and Gratitude

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:32

I love my IPod. I really do.

The very idea that I have, in one petite digital package, a portable library of all my favorite musical selections, is still mind-boggling for this child of the 1960’s and 70’s.

But at some level I still miss my record player. (My teenage daughters would think this strange. Of course, they think Dad is a bit strange anyway.)

One miracle of digital technology is its capacity to compact many layers into one…to effectively take the “multi-” out of multi-task.

My daughters and their friends will never need to take a record from its cover, lay it on the turntable, and carefully place needle to chosen track (hoping no scratches or lint will interfere with sound quality).

Digital efficiency thus frees up time for…what, exactly?

I don’t know about you, but in my own life I have found that the more I avail myself of technological advances, the less time I actually spend on things that matter most, like relationships, spiritual growth, service, self-improvement, and, quite simply, stillness.

Not to devalue progress, but increasing efficiency does not necessarily produce increasing satisfaction. Comfort can be found in the tasks themselves; in the “unfolding” of life, and in the truth that lies beneath.

It is often the disassembling of circuits, the teasing apart of layers, or the unpacking of processes that reveals the greater gifts.

And we don’t hear the song until the moment metal strikes vinyl.

Ironically, the magic is unleashed through the tip of a needle. The focal point, its most basic element, is the moment of touching. In the apparent confinement of that event, sound is freed.

As long as the needle stays in the vinyl groove, the music continues. Each moment becomes a melody, playing to infinity in our minds.

At that moment, in the truth of that infinite moment of hearing, I am grateful. I am free. And where there is freedom, there must be gratitude.

But just as surely, where there is gratitude, there must also be freedom.

Because of a culmination of life circumstances, I have recently found myself in a place of rest and reflection; a place of compassion and community, where stories are shared and love abides.

One day, while listening intently to the story of a friend, I became overtaken with compassion for her account of misfortune and grace.

Completely (as completely as I have been capable up to the present) surrendered to the moment, cognizant of no past or future, I experienced a profound connection with her and others in my proximity, and by extension, to the world around me.

At that time I felt bound to all, and all bound to me in humility and gratitude for life and opportunity and forgiveness and love.

The needle of my self was touching the vinyl of life, and this singer was freed to praise for all good gifts.

In my own life, then, personal freedom has grown out of creating space for stillness; out of disassembling life’s complexities and cares; out of empathetic listening to the stories of others, and in gratitude for the gifts I have been given, including forgiveness.

Gratitude is the key which unlocks the door for freedom’s expression.

Gratitude is my needle. Being fully alive and attuned to the present is my record player. And life’s miraculous unfolding in love on the cusp of each moment is my vinyl record.

The truth of gift and blessing has set me free.

With this knowledge, I hope I never listen to my IPod the same way again.

 

Image credit: artkurka on Etsy

About the Author

author image

Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN is a noted neurologist, author, educator, and champion of those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. He was chosen by the American Academy of Neurology as the 2008 Donald M. Palatucci Advocate of the Year, serves as an AAN national media spokesperson for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and is a faculty member at both medical schools in his home state of Alabama. Inspired by his father’s transformation from saw miller to watercolor artist in the throes of Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Potts formed Cognitive Dynamics, a foundation dedicated to quality of life improvement through the arts. With his wife, Ellen W. Potts, he authored A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer's Care Giver.

Read more from Dr. Daniel C. Potts

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