Whitman, Apple, and the Powerful Play

Apple iPad Air Robin Williams Whitman 2014Last year Apple ran a profoundly impactful ad for its new iPad Air. It’s a montage where Robin Williams reads from Walt Whitman’s ponderous poem “Oh me! Oh life!” which finishes with the million-dollar question, “What good amid these, O me, O life?”

And Whitman’s answer to his own question struck me dead in my tracks.

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
This was one of the last poems he ever wrote and I believe he was introspectively asking himself, “Did I contribute? Was my work worth my life?” Now, I believe many things very differently than Whitman did, but over 115 years have passed since he first penned those words and still, these words resonate with so many of us.
Yesterday I shared about why living a remarkable life needs to be an aspiration, not an abnormality. Whitman’s words remind me of a quote from author John Green,

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

If you’re facing the nine-to-five 4:59 rat-race straight in the face or you’re having the same shallow conversations with the same surface-level friends, it may feel like your entire day is like waiting for the “Skip Ad” option on a YouTube video. Just. be. over. now!

That’s not life; that’s existence.

What’s your contribution? Whose life have you enhanced today? Whose smile was made possible by you? Where are you sharing the grace of Jesus and the hope of the Gospel and the promise of second chances from a big, loving Heavenly Father?

Though Whitman may have only seen life as the powerful play, I believe the powerful play is God’s story. We get to play a part in His masterpiece. We get to pick up the brushes and pens of our existence and paint our stories on the mural of life inside His almighty plan. This is the powerful play that in the words of Augustine, our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.

May you find rest in your identity as a child of God. May you live in the knowledge of a bigger story that God’s calling you into deeper. And may you contribute your verse to God’s story today.

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