A Christmas Reflection
Last night I went to a cricket game at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It was a lot of fun. Our team, the Sixers won, which is always nice. The evening was perfect for a “Big Bash” game.
Yet, there was something that I hadn’t noticed before in any previous game. A lot of kids would form in little clusters, like bees to the honey, at sporadic times. The trigger? A camera operator. It seemed every time a camera operator was close by, the cluster would form in front of him so they could be captured on the big screen either doing a dance or some kind of funny challenge to keep the crowd amused between overs.
I watched two or three boys particularly, who would come back and forth, taking selfies in between their performances for the camera. I guess they were about 10 or 11 years old. The game seemed to be less relevant than their moments on the screen.
This is all a lot of fun of course. If you’re going to make a three hour cricket game bearable for most kids there needs to be a lot of colour and excitement. But there is another side to our social media culture that I wonder about. From our youngest ages we seem to be encouraged to create carefully curated images of our lives – making sure we get the shot or the video that captures the moment. It’s almost like we are creating a meta reality to our lives. But what is living about? Is it about the moments we capture or the moments we live?
This reminds me of something that Daniel Kahneman talks about in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, when he refers to the “Experiencing Self” and the “Remembering Self”. The two are not always the same and in fact, oftentimes my memories of events can be shaped by many factors, such as the last stimulus I experienced. So, for instance, if I worked in a particular workplace and my experience was generally good, but my parting was bitter, that will shape my memories of that period. The same could be said of relationships that end in divorce, estrangement or some kind of cancelling. The final act determines perception of the whole.
So, how do I approach Christmas at the end of another wearying year? It felt as though I was walking through mud at times this year and I suspect that was the case for most people. How will I shape my perceptions? How will I curate my memories? Am I the star feature of my story?
Well, family and loved ones of course are at the centre of life. That won’t change. But it is also a time for self-reflection. Being aware of how I react to those around me. What are the ways I am shaping their memories of me? Am I kinder, more patient, more generous, more loving than I was last year? Is my character in fact developing more toward wholeness and health? Am I giving more time to the things close to God’s heart?
Finally, I remind myself of the reason for Christmas. A helpless child born to people on the margins of the Roman Empire who couldn’t even give their newborn a proper bed to lie on. A child born of a promise to be the light of the world. In Jesus, I am reminded that my life doesn’t have to be a perfectly curated series of Instagram posts. His call is simple,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest
I wish everyone reading this a blest Christmas season.