01 2006

WHAT·NOT n.

WHAT·NOT n.
1. A minor or unspecified object or article.
2. A set of light, open shelves for ornaments.

January 7, 2006 – My flight was early. We were scheduled for a 6:46 AM departure and for me, that’s early. I had already had a half a cup of coffee and had been up since 5:04 am. I was staying at a hotel located literally feet from the airport. As I entered the lobby, there was an airline crew sitting on couches. My best guess is that they were two pilots and a flight attendant. As I loaded my bags into the hotel shuttle, I saw them walking to the terminal. It was a cool morning and I was glad to be sitting in a warm van. Ricky was our driver. By 5:30 my friend who was traveling with me playing guitar, Thad and I were on our way. We were 50 feet from the American Airlines terminal. Ricky was friendly for 5:30 am. He said you stay over at our hotel again. We not only offer rides to the airport, but to shops, fast food restaurants and whatnot. I smiled and said the whatnot is probably where I’d want to go.

What is whatnot? I’ve often heard that term, but have never been sure what it was. I guess I’ve always thought it was the extra stuff after the important stuff. Once on a visit to Nashville before Ron and I moved there, I visited an area near music row and near downtown. It was a strip of tourist shops. I wish I could remember all of the names of the shops. As I meandered my way from store to store killing time before I met with someone to talk about what I needed to know about the “music industry.” Sometimes I’d meet friends of friends asking me about my writings songs, singing on the road, selling music. Those first years, I’d travel to Nashville and like a good student, I’d learn what was working and what wasn’t working for others. Many people assisted me as I journeyed this road. Funny I might have a meeting at 10 and then nothing until 2 PM. I hung out at a few places. Long before Starbucks, I went to the “Slice of Life” a quaint coffee shop / restaurant near music row. They had great tea. I’d sit for hours writing songs and reading the newspaper. And sometimes I’d visit the string of souvenir shops. My favorite was the Elvis Presley Museum. Every time someone entered the door, the young lady from behind the counter beamed and faithfully recited her speech. As I remember it, “Welcome to the Elvis Presley Museum. It is our pleasure today to offer you private pictures, personal possessions and never before seen items of Elvis Presley. Before you is an array of items to purchase, signed autographs of Elvis, his very own Driver’s License, tee shirts, music, videos, books written about Elvis, Love me Tender Lotion, whatnots and such.”

I would wander around to pass time. It seems there was also a car in the lobby Elvis had owned. I might be the only one entering the store and about the second or third time I’d drop by, I’d just wave her off and say, it’s okay, I’ve heard it. I kept thinking I’d write it down, I have not done it justice. She was much more thorough and chipper. She made most greeters seem pretty somber. And always dressed with a southern smile. How do they find these wonderful people? Especially with repeat customers, I’d be like a whatever — helps yourself to the whatnots and such.

And I’m back where I started at 5:30 AM, the extra stuff. I get distracted by the whatnot, I’ll be honest. I’ve gone in to the grocery store for milk and left with a bag of whatnot and no milk. I guess my new years resolution is to do better with the whatnot, to not lose sight of the big, real, vital things in my life. To name them, give them my time, attention, prayer, efforts and let the whatnots and such fade out of my vision. How can I do that? My only road map like many of you is to stay focused — for me, it’s to stay focused on Christ. I want what matters to Christ, to matter to me: what I should be doing, who I should be reaching out to, where my treasure should be. I want to make an effort to line myself up with that this year, this week, this day and this moment. The whatnots often seem appealing, but when I get them or focus on them I later discover they were neither as important nor as sustaining as their initial appeal.

Mind you the “love me tender lotion” along the with house slippers with Elvis head attached above the toes, had their lure–but their appeal wasn’t abiding or lasting. And the next time I visited there, I’d always be on the lookout for a new whatnot.

Coming to Nashville on these early trips, what I spent my time on then, I know now, still hold its value. The relationships I built and the people I met, as we each heard God’s call and followed those paths somehow we bumped into each other along the way and the same is true today. There a lot of whatnots out there. Places to go, things to distract us, agendas to seek, goals to meet and this next year, my prayer, my deepest desire is to find those that are the truest, that are aligned with Christ — my faith, my family and my purpose. I’m gonna focus on those and pray somehow they are the ones that matter. As Ricky dropped me off curbside, I thanked him for the ride. I asked what he was gonna do, when he’s off at 6 am. “Oh I have a 13 year old daughter and that’s my first priority each day.” “Have a good day with her and God Bless you both,” I said. He doesn’t seem interested in the whatnot and I shouldn’t be either.


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