Mix Tapes

tape recorder gif

“The question that dances like a firefly in my mind is: Are we following a pre-written chronicle of our lives that’s unfolding as a surprise to us but that is as planned as a Disneyland ride? Or do we have free will, and a set of lessons to learn, which, if we don’t get them the first time, will come back in a different form until we do?”–Stephanie Beacham, ‘Many Lives’, pages 3-4.

I’m currently reading La Beacham’s–AKA Sable Colby’s–autobiography in which she goes into much detail about her past lives. I can’t say this is something I believe in, so I continue muddling through it in hopes of her dishing a bit of old fashioned showbiz gossip. But she does share some thought-provoking quotes, such as the one above. Her spiritual connection to God is very evident, and I can appreciate that for sure.

The current #1 album in America is the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy, subtitled Awesome Mix Vol. 1. I’ve not seen the movie, so I’ve no clue if a second volume is in the works/exists/is being planned for the already greenlit sequel. The noteworthy thing about this soundtrack reaching #1 is that all the songs are from the 70s, which makes them all 35+ years old. Apparently this sort of phenomenon has never happened (a whole album of vintage tunes reaching the top spot). Pretty cool in 2014, right? I saw the GIF above on Tumblr and it reminded me of the tape recorder I had growing up. I still have it, actually, and use it to play my old mix tapes from high school on every once in awhile. Okay, I won’t lie, I was still making a few mix tapes when I lived in Nashville, and that was 2003-06. But the memories I have of laying in bed at night with my boombox on my nightstand, waiting for the next hit to play on the radio so I could hit “Record” and capture it on the tape loaded in the double deck. (That boombox long ago bit the dust.) And the travesty of when the tape ran out during the middle of a great song I was capturing…it still makes me cringe! I was usually insightful enough to pop out the tape beforehand and tell if I only had a bit left on it, but if I was on a roll of recording, it would inevitably happen that the tape would run out and I’d have to pop it out lightning-fast to let the song continue recording on the other side. I didn’t really ever make mix tapes for anyone else; just for me to listen to in my car and in my room. Some were heavy on the hits and some were admittedly lackluster. I went through all of them before I moved out to Las Vegas and brought only the cream of the crop with me. It’s funny once I pop one in that I can usually predict what the next song is going to be on the tape. That’s how many times I’ve listened to most of them over the years.

La Beacham’s quote got me to thinking about how our lives are a bit like a collection of old mix tapes…many times we feel as though we can predict what’s coming up next around the bend. Sometimes our lives are a series of hits; other times our existence might seem a bit lackluster. Life–like the songs–can be upbeat and pulsing or seemingly sad and slow. We certainly have a degree of power over what route this takes, but it’s often times out of our control. I think of my friend Chris recovering from his stroke; that’s absolutely nothing he would’ve ever chosen to deal with, nor would any of us who are close to him. One gets through such events, pops the tape out, and turns the tape over in hopes of hearing/living “a better song.”

tape GIF

So are our lives pre-written? I don’t believe so, but I don’t know that for sure. I do think God gives us the free will to make good and poor decisions, and the chances to learn from those decisions. And heaven help us if the mix tape gets eaten up by the tape player…hah! We’re never alone, though…never. That I do know. Life is indeed a mixed bag–a mix tape of hits and misses–but we are indeed never alone, by the grace of God.


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