I think about football when I remember my dad. I think about cigarettes when I recall late nights on the porch with my college roommate. When I think about my Mom, I’m reminded of church. My wife makes me think about shampoo. My eldest child makes me think about my wedding. My youngest daughter makes me think about smiling. And the baby makes me think about grace. Ben – my oldest son – makes me think about my dad… and when I remember my dad, I think about football.
Now, this isn’t a post about football or church or Marlboro Lights or even shampoo. It’s about that thing… whatever it may be… that stirs us to think, react, remember or take a stand. I read recently that the average American is “approached” more than 6000 times a day by marketing messages, advertising and sales pitches. If that’s true, it must be that some of this stuff is happening to us without us even knowing it. I am certainly not cognizant of “more than 6000 outside messages every day.” I watch TV and read the paper and sometimes hear a radio spot for tires or buffalo wings or mortgage loans while listening to sports talk on my way to and from work… but not much sinks in. Maybe one or two on a good day.
Why is that? Is it because I don’t care about tires and buffalo wings? I don’t think so (because I can tell you with every bit of sincerity that’s in me that I care deeply for buffalo wings). I think the stuff that moves us, does so because we have a personal relationship with it. We’ve experienced it or shared it or talked about it at length while slowly contracting cancer on the back steps of an apartment in a shady area of downtown Birmingham. We live (whatever it is) because we care about the folks with whom we’re living.
I’m not even sure where I’m headed with this thought, but I do think that more than 6000 messages a day miss the target. I think we’re all searching for more than that. I think we need to focus on what’s in front of us and around us and within us to make memories and decisions. I think we need to stop looking at delivering a message and start thinking about how to make folks think about football and cigarettes and shampoo. That’s what I think.