Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Parable of the iPod

There was once a man who liked to go running in the morning.  He also liked to listen to his iPod Nano while he was running.  He would clip it to the small pocket in the back of his running shorts over his upper right cheek and enjoy listening to music or to podcasts. 

However, one day, his iPod started skipping songs and even playlists.  He was perplexed.  He couldn’t understand why this was happening.  He continued to clip the iPod on as he always had, but the sporadic problem persisted.  He assumed that the problem had something to do with his body motion, but no solution to the problem occurred to him.  Every time he continued to clip his iPod on as he always had, the problem would reappear. 

Finally, he started carrying his iPod in his hand as he ran, but he was unhappy at the prospect that he would have to do this from now on. 

Then, one day, a thought occurred to him:  if he simply turned the iPod around so that the touch screen faced outward instead of towards his body, as he had always been accustomed to wearing it, then the problem he had been experiencing would likely go away.  He eagerly tried this new approach and, lo, the problem never reoccurred. 

Now, what lesson do you think the man learned from this little experience?

As he thought about what had happened, it occurred to him how many times in his life he had approached problems or situations in this manner:  he preconceived of only one solution to a problem, rather than allowing himself to consider other possible solutions.  He had also routinely approached various situations in his life with preconceived notions almost unconsciously determined which skewed his entire perception of the situation.

This situation with his iPod became a parable of sorts to the runner - a reminder to always try to remember these tendencies.  He vowed to try harder to approach life with a more open mind.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, I was the runner in the parable.   

Countless are the times when I have been confronted with situations in which I decided that there is only one way to approach the situation or to solve a problem.  I strongly suspect that there are many others like me.  We become so accustomed to framing our lives and seeing only within that frame, and we don’t look for solutions outside that frame.  Eventually, we forget that there’s a whole world out there beyond that frame.

Until we are reminded.

Personally, I think this is one of God’s greatest challenges with his children:  to remind them that there is life outside the frames that they habitually construct for themselves.  I personally believe that He has an infinitely more expansive view of us and our individual potentials than do we.  Many of the greatest blessings in my life have occurred when He has had to intervene and show me that there is another way, or when he has forced me to take another way.

Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, however, I think we all need to step back at times and analyze how we are approaching problems and situations in our lives.  And I think this is particularly true for some people, such as gays who have been raised and/or have spent most of their life in an environment that teaches them to look at their homosexuality in only one way.  There is life outside those frames.

Remember the parable of the iPod:  all I had to do was turn it around and everything worked.


  1. I really love this post and that picture is very powerful! Thank you.

  2. Thanks, Kiley. I'm glad you liked it!

  3. I just wrote a post about trying to convince my father to step outside of his preconceived ideas, but it didn't occur to me to look at my own at the same time.

    I guess it is easy to see problems with other peoples ideas, and a lot harder to acknowledge problems in our own.

  4. nicely put, gotta love the lessons we learn from running!