I have been an aspiring vegetarian for several years now. This longing to “go vegetarian” is rooted in several factors: My aversion to blood. My comfort in eating cereal, peanut butter, falafels, hummus, and bean and cheese burritos. My moral revulsion to violence, especially the kind I’ve seen videotaped by animal rights groups who offer lengthy footage of cows and pigs squealing and moaning before their brutal slaughters. I mention this desire to be a vegetarian because during my inner struggle to stop eating other mammals my wife Julia and I went to Lucile’s Smokehouse, a rib joint one half mile from our house, where I proceeded to eat a handsome portion of delectable tri-tip slathered with extra spicy barbecue sauce followed by banana pudding with vanilla wafers. Overcome by remorse after my carnivorous indulgence, I felt the need to “walk off my guilt,” so Julia and I walked into a nearby electronics store.
Neither of us had anything in mind to purchase. But I felt inexplicably drawn to the shelf of radios where I looked lustily at a blue Tivoli PAL radio. I was drawn to its heft and simplistic design. It was a cerulean blue rubber cube, about six inches tall, with only three knobs on the front: A giant tuner dial flanked by an AM/FM tuner switch and an on/off volume switch. In the center of the switches was a tiny dot that glowed bright green at the peak reception point. The price of the PAL was $120. I held the radio and enjoyed the tactile sensation of the rubber in my hands and found myself suppressing the urge to gnash my teeth into as if it were a rack of baby back pork ribs. Julia gave me a skeptical expression as if to ask, “What the hell are you going to do with that radio?”
I turned on the Tivoli and could tell the sound had a depth that my nondescript radios at home could not produce. I did not know why, but I needed to own this radio. I looked at Julia and said, “I’m getting this.” Julia shared my high esteem for the radio and gave me the green light to buy it. Shortly after, I took the Tivoli home and removed the piece-of-junk Philips clock radio that I had purchased hastily on Amazon.
With some chagrin, it occurred to me in that moment that there was nothing about this cheap, mass-produced Philips to elevate my existence, to provide me with inspiration, to feed me spiritual sustenance, or to make me feel good about myself. Why had I bought such a horrid piece of electronics? Why during my entire life did I purchase my radios in ignorance? What did these misguided purchases say about the condition of my soul?
Then it hit me: My whole life I had lived in Total Darkness. But buying this Tivoli PAL was the beginning of something special. I was burning a path for myself toward the Light and inexplicably this Tivoli radio had something to do with this journey into Enlightenment, Wisdom, and Clarity of Being.
That night as I played my Tivoli with my ear-bud plugged deep into my auditory canal and marinated in the melancholy melody of Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues," I stared with delight at the Tivoli’s tiny glowing green tuning light that told me my station was coming in FULL STRENGTH and my soul was flooded with reassurance as I slowly drifted into sleep.