Not long ago while taking a walk, I noticed a nice pickup truck—a fairly common occurrence for me. I grew up appreciating nice trucks, and that particular aesthetic skill has not left me.
This particular truck was a mid-sized four-wheel drive with several added features
designed particularly to navigate the desert terrain of southern California. From the appearance of the truck, I reached the conclusion that the vehicle’s owner appreciated mountains, deserts, lakes, and streams. “Excellent!” I thought.
Then I noticed a curious bumper sticker on the back of the pickup: Drink Craft Beer and Live Easy. “Hmm. What’s the message there?” I wondered. Is the message that this person really likes craft beer and craft beer makes life easy? Or is this aficionado of artisan ales calling for two separate actions: drink craft beer and also live life easy.
After an abrupt interruption from the grammar portion of my mind needing to clarify whether the bumper sticker shouldn’t instead read, “live easily,” I sobered up again and returned to pondering the meaning of this bumper sticker. (I know… bumper stickers aren’t the places to go for meditating on life lessons…)
Besides the potential grammar issue, what’s wrong with drinking craft beer and living “easy”? Then it hit me that there is something wrong with living easy: it’s just too hard! Life is too hard to live easy.
As I walked, I thought about how several people might read the bumper in their various walks of life. A dear woman I know had to bury all three of her children, each one dying unexpectedly in different ways, leaving children behind. For her, God is good, but life is not easy.
Another woman, Asia Bibi, spent ten years in prison in Pakistan on account of her faith in Christ. She was sentenced to death, separated from her husband and children, and poorly-cared for in a Pakistani jail for a decade. During her imprisonment, life was still worth living for her, but it wasn’t easy.
Finally, I thought of my neighbor—a former musician who loved playing trumpet in a mariachi band. He was diagnosed with cancer in his back and, through the process of fighting cancer, lost the use of both legs. Wheel-chair bound now, he is unable to play trumpet any longer because of injuries caused by the cancer.
At this point, I realized what had bothered me about the bumper sticker. It just doesn’t work. Life is not easy.
Three final thoughts occupied the remainder of my walk. First, life is good, but not easy. Reality demands we think of death. And death is not required to pre-announce its arrival. Death’s arrival is like Emily Dickinson describes it in her great poem: Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me. Death stops for us before we stop for it.
Second, even if our own attitude is to enjoy good things and live an easy life, we must recognize that life depends upon relationships. None of us lives to himself. Other people have a say in our lives. And we can’t control the choices other people make. Some choices made by other people will make life hard for us. Even a decision to live easy might somehow make someone else’s life hard.
Third, I realized that I may have been overthinking the bumper sticker… Who knows what the truck owner was really trying to communicate?
In the end, I was thankful to have noticed the bumper sticker. I thought of what might be a better way to communicate my thoughts on the matter of living easy. My mind went to the Apostle Peter’s Bumper Sticker (aka 1 Peter 5:8a), “Be sober-minded.” That verse works because it expects us to be mentally engaged in the world we inhabit without being sad, morose, or somber. It allows us to be joyful and thankful and sad—sometimes all in the same day or week. Being sober-minded, then, is much healthier than living easy.
Whatever you drink, be sober-minded.