Banana Pancakes. It’s a sweet song by Jack Johnson, and I like to listen to it while I do the dishes because sometimes it makes me happy.
I never really think much of songs like these. To me they’re mindless. I listen to them when I’m not really listening, not thinking about what they’re saying. Sometimes I like to give my full attention to music, let myself feel it swell inside of me, abandon myself to it, and I listen to something deeper and richer. But those times are not when I’m doing the dishes. So I was thankful when, this time, in the midst of scrubbing and rinsing and humming along, I looked up, and became struck by a sudden thought. I knew all the words to Banana Pancakes, but had never thought of them, and this line hit me.
“We’ve got everything we need right here
And everything we need is enough.”
I don’t care what it means in the context of the song, but I thought about what it means right now. How often do we have everything we need, and actually consider it enough?
No, whatever we obtain is never enough. As one millionaire said in response to the question, “How much money is enough?” “Just a little bit more.” Alway more, more, more, because our minds are never dead. We are brimming with ideas. We yearn and pine for things we want, and we get them. And we weary of them, just as we weary of this world, our friends, and our lives. And why? Because we have made everything worthless in an attempt to please ourselves.
There has always been satisfaction in contentment, but contentment isn’t an abandonment of dreams and aspirations. But why does ambition always have the accompanying ideas of hardness, of money, of endless wealth?
Why must our dreams be so contained? So pent up as to deal only with this earth and what it can give us? Why can’t we dream of what we can give other people?
If we dreamed of helping other people, if our ambition was not to obtain money, but to obtain ideas, to learn how to be gracious and compassionate, to learn how to serve people best with the talents we have been blessed with, then there is contentment in that, and there is satisfaction, because that is doing the right thing. That is using ourselves as we were meant to be used, that is, not for ourselves but for the community we live in.
That is why we have everything we need, and that is why it is enough. You have your talents within you. You cannot wait to hone them to use them. Remember that life is a journey, and you learn along the way. It is the blessed thing about growing older, is that if you try hard enough, you grow wiser. Don’t think you have to go to school or on a missions trip or see the whole world to minister to it in the proper way. Use what you have right now, inside of you, and let it flow out of you into the world to those you love. Strive for perfect, settle for excellence, a friend told me. That is what will bring you satisfaction, and contentment, even if you have to work harder for it than you’ve ever worked before.
This world is tiresome, but we can have joy in it. These things, contentment and satisfaction, are what give us the joy to make it through the world. People are wonderful things, you know. They draw us away from ourselves, they challenge us, hurt us, love us, teach us, bear with us. There are so many wonderful things about life that we miss when we draw the curtains of our soul, and put a wall between ourselves and the people around us. But we must be self-sacrificial to have joy.
You could say that joy is an acquired taste. True joy is, anyway, because it’s not what most people desire once they see all it takes to attain it. They would rather settle for something less that brings a more passionate happiness… that sadly ends too soon. They know it ends soon, they do know it, but they continue wandering this tiresome world in search of a new pleasure, trying to fill up their souls, trying to find contentment and knowing all along it will never be real, but skeptical about how to make it real.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (C.S. Lewis)
Work for joy by being content and being satisfied. Don’t try to minister to the whole world at once, but use your gifts to the best of your ability towards they people you come into contact with. Give yourself, your work, and your ambition to the community, give all of that and your soul to God. Abandon yourself to anything but yourself. Don’t look within, but without your own self. Live for God, and in doing so you will live for each other. If you do this, everything you need will finally be enough.