I checked my blood pressure at the grocery store the other day. Yes, you read that correctly. At the grocery store – well technically in the pharmacy section of the grocery store – but still in the same place I go to buy groceries with the Lovely Lady. I sat and slid my arm into the cuff up to the bicep, steeling myself to the throttling pressure I knew was to come. The cuff ballooned up and then slowly, very slowly, released it’s strangling grip. I could feel the thump, thump, thump of the pulse in my arm as the compression dropped past the upper threshhold, the systolic reading; diminishing until it vanished completely at the lower calculation point, the diastolic reading. An acceptable reading would be something less than 120 systolic over something less than 80 diastolic. Mine was higher on both counts. I’m not telling how much. What a place to be ambushed by cautionary information; right before shopping for items which could be beneficial or detrimental to the rehabilitation of acceptable readings upon the next visit. I much prefer those of the detrimental ilk, truth be told.
I’m not going to talk much about health issues, although it is, I’m told, the area most people my age excel at conversationally. If we’re not bragging about our exceptional grandchildren, we’re sitting around participating in “organ recitals”; who had a heart attack, which friend is about to have a gall bladder removed, and what the doctor is insisting we do this week to get our cholesterol down to acceptable levels. I’ll pass, thank you. There are better things to talk about. Well, better things than the medical predicaments. The grandchildren? Give me a minute and I’ll find the pictures I want to show you. They’re right here on my cell phone…
Now, where was I? Oh yes, blood pressure! I’ve decided that stress is the biggest factor in raising mine, although I couldn’t prove it. “What kind of stress?” you may ask. As I age, I’m finding that noises cause me more stress than anything else. I still take pride in allowing customers (and their children) to play the instruments in the music store, without asking them to turn down the volume, but that is increasingly costing me in terms of my emotional well-being. I’m convinced that the amplifiers are louder, the drums more reverberating, and the banjos are definitely more twangy than they were years ago. I attribute it to better technology, but most likely, it could be chalked up to aging. Today for instance, a couple of customers were playing guitars, one acoustic, the other electric, when a young man walked in and sat down at the drum set. Within moments, I was ready to pull out my hair and run screaming into the street. You’ll be proud when you hear that I stayed put and waited them out as I labored at the string replacement I was performing on a guitar belonging to one of these fine young men.
Within moments, all was calm except for the acoustic guitar player, whose guitar I was working on. The acoustic guitar is easy to listen to most of the time, but sometime during that noisy uproar, he had found a high fret on the guitar he was playing. I can’t explain it, but the principle is universal; if you find a high fret on a guitar, you have to keep playing the defective note over and over again. Never mind that there are an average of 120 notes on the acoustic guitar (not counting harmonic tones). That leaves at least 119 notes which may be played without once hearing the rattle of the high fret – giving fair odds, you might reckon, that you could safely play most any song you would desire on the instrument without hearing the dreaded rattle. You would lose that bet every time. I’ve never known a guitar player who could play even four or five notes on the instrument without returning to that defective note again…and again…and again. If the blood pressure was elevated before, it was soaring now! I completed the work on the young man’s guitar and headed him out the door as quickly as possible; reveling again in the renewed peacefulness of the silence.
Why is it that we can’t leave the negative alone, even when we have an overwhelming prevalence of positives? The guitar principle isn’t only true in music, but in everything else I know. The room has been flawlessly painted, but our eye is drawn to the one little spot on the wall with a run. The cook has prepared innumerable dinners before which we raved about, but let us have one bad meal and we never darken the door of that establishment again. A friend has been at our side without fail for many years, but let there be one slight, one misstep, and a rift in the relationship appears; often to be the death knell of an otherwise wonderful, lifelong friendship. We can forget a multitude of excellent experiences, but we can’t forgive even one transgression.
I don’t want to be Pollyanna-ish, but we need to change perspectives. We need to practice seeing the good things, not the bad; to make a habit of enjoying the amazing plethora of wonderful experiences God has blessed us with, instead of focusing on the few times of testing and unhappiness that come our way. As usual, I know a verse that reinforces this principle. In the Phillips translation (Paul’s, that is) we’re told; “Think about the good things, whatever they are. If they are worthy of praise, those are the things you should focus on.” You’ll find the real words below, but that’s about the size of it. Is it good stuff? Let that be your focal point!
Play the notes that sound good! The Repairman will take care of the rest in good time…
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
(Philippians 4:8~New Living Translation)
“Goodness speaks in a whisper. Evil shouts!”
(Ancient Tibetan proverb)