Ultimate Significance

The Rolling Stones “can’t get no satisfaction” and Bob Dylan wants to have a “satisfied mind” when he dies. Why do I get the impression Dylan and the Stones are pursuing different goals–probably very different ones?

What is satisfaction, anyhow? Is it what the WordWeb dictionary I’m using defines as “the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation”? And is satisfaction a realistic goal?

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe even a tad judgmental. But it seems to me that whatever the Rolling Stones are hoping to get satisfaction from is apt to be very temporary in nature. A person may eat until he’s satisfied, but he’s still going to get hungry again. No need to elaborate.

At least Dylan’s goal is to be satisfied when he enters eternity. Whatever gives him final contentment must be of an eternal nature. Since “Satisfied Mind” is on one of Dylan’s Christian albums–yes, he wrote and recorded at least three of them–I hope he’s talking about satisfaction with the way he’s lived and his confidence in where he’s going at death. Definitely not temporal.

But what about significance? That’s what this post is supposed to be about.

Significance means importance; that’s the definition I’m using here, anyhow. Contentment and importance are not one and the same, and neither are significance and satisfaction. Those two words are not only not synonyms, they’re almost antonyms.

Time to get personal. I get contentment from a number of things. Having a wonderful wife. A comfortable–but modest–home. Food and clothes. A decent camera and good musical instruments. I have everything I need and  plenty of things I don’t need.

But the contentment those things provide isn’t enough.

Could it be I “can’t get no satisfaction,” either? I’m extremely thankful for all of the blessings God has provided, but do they fulfill my real goal–my desire to be important? Or at least to do something so important it will continue doing good for years after my death.

Five thousand people bought Found in Translation. Twenty-five hundred bought Lost in Dreams. I’m proud of those figures, because I want to believe at least that many people read those books and were both entertained and blessed by them. That did more than make me content. It made me feel important. Or at least that I’d done something important.

Ah, but what about The Devil and Pastor Gus? It’s been out exactly one year. I don’t have the total sales figures, but it seems likely that only a hundred copies have been sold. Perhaps fewer. And this was the novel I’d considered my legacy for future generations. I felt it had the strongest message of anything I’ve ever written–and probably will ever write. In short, that it would be my most important novel.

No matter how much the people who’ve read The Devil and Pastor Gus rave about it–it currently has a 4.4 star rating on Amazon–I’m not content. I wonder whether my best effort to accomplish something truly important has fallen flat on its face.

I could get depressed about this if I allowed myself to. But the truth of one of my original songs keeps coming to mind:

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s helping me in ways I can’t see.
God understands all my problems;
He knows my best efforts are not enough to solve them.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s renewing my faded hopes and dreams.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

I believe God’s holding me in His hands;
He’s shaping me according to plan.
Despite my fears and confusion,
He knows He provides the only real solution.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s drawing from His limitless means.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

Maybe it’s time to let faith take over. What’s most significant ultimately is not what’s important to me, but what’s important to God. And He doesn’t have to do it my way. Or on my timetable. What a mess my life would be in if He’d done everything the way I thought they should be done!

Why should I fret about feeling important here on earth, anyhow? I’m much more desirous of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I arrive in Heaven.

What do you think? Are you satisfied? Do you feel significant? How about sharing a comment?

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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4 thoughts on “Ultimate Significance

  1. Am I satisfied and do I feel significant? Dangerous questions for an egotist like me. Every single day I hit forks in the road and take the route that seems the best for me based on my current understanding of the world. Sometimes I’d like to take both paths but it is impossible to split oneself in two and go wandering off in two directions but connected physically like some entangled photons seem to do.
    Am I satisfied? With what I personally have done I say yes. With what others have done toward me I say yes and no. As other folks actions are beyond my control I really can’t get excited about it. I just study the things that happen and make my next decision as to where to go and what to do based on that.
    Significance is a question of degrees. Who is the most significant person in history. And after him. And the next one. Until you get down the list to me and my paltry historical stature. i am significant within my own sphere of influence. If a person doesn’t have significance he is… well, dead. And yet dead people have a sort of significance and exert influence on us. Let’s not think of Jesus as an example but rather, someone who invented something important like the telephone. This device, through its various iterations, has changed the world completely and affects our life in unmeasurable degrees. So this fellow Bell is significant to me.
    I have produced two children and have taught them may things and this gives me satisfaction. I have met many wonderful woman, most of whom I have rejected for one reason or another. There are a few of them I think of wistfully and wonder of I made a bad decision. I had to take a fork, not just run into the median strip… and It makes me wonder. This is the hard reality of the world. We have to make decisions, choose, and sometimes there is no going back. Like the guy who jumps off the bridge and then, on the way down, repents and wants to keep living.
    This is a tough thing to pin down and I ramble…

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  2. A strange thing has happened to me in the last 4 months. As I was working in my kitchen, alone in the mornings, I began to rewind my life and study the various bifurcations in my history. I began to focus in on two instances that I can’t seem to shake. It has begun to dominate my thinking… and sometimes I get wistful and wonder if I had made a good decision… and sometimes I think not.
    SOmetimes I want to cry out in pain. I need to talk about this later.

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