It’s about 15 minutes until show time. My band mates and I are in the bathroom putting the final touches on our stylish hairdos. We’re nervous but excited. This is our big chance to show off our talent, to demonstrate to the world what we’re made of. Maybe this will be our big break, our next stop stardom!
As we head towards the stage, we can hear the crowd rustling around with anticipation. We can hardly contain our anticipation.
At last, it is our turn. Our name is announced over the PA and the curtain opens. The crowd roars and music blares through the speakers.
We play our hearts out for four of the most exhilarating minutes or lives, dancing around the stage like maniacs while the crowd cheers like crazy.
Then, as quickly it started it’s over and we head back stage feeling like we’ve conquered the world. In our minds we had.
We had just rocked our third grade talent show by lip-syncing to Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me.”
That’s right, our instruments weren’t even plugged in but we didn’t care.
We were sure that our air guitar skills were legendary and guaranteed to propel us to fame as real rock stars.
That is one of my earliest memories of being in love with music, not just listening to it but playing it.
Around that time a dream was born in me, a dream to play music that would make people as happy as we had that day at the talent show. But it was not just a dream to play music, it was a dream to write and make music that expresses some of the deepest, often un-explainable thoughts and feelings, connecting us to a reality beyond what we can see and encouraging us in ways that other forms of expression cannot.
From that day forward I pursued music as one of my biggest passions. In middle school I started playing the clarinet in the school band. In high school I added saxophone to my repertoire, playing in the jazz band. At the same time I started playing drums in my church’s worship band. In college I picked up the guitar and started playing and signing along to some of my favorite songs.
It has continued much the same since.
Despite all of those efforts, all this time I’ve mostly been dancing around the ultimate dream.
I’ve taken a few stabs at it but have usually given up in discouragement because my attempts fell far short of my aspirations and didn’t sound anything like the music of the artists I love.
I’ve often marveled – with a certain degree of jealousy – at people much younger than me who have written amazing music while at the same time wondering if my time has passed. After all, I turn 40 this year. Wouldn’t you think if I was going to be a good songwriter it would have happened by now?
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on that question, wondering why my ability hasn’t materialized like it has for others. I’ve come to realize there are many reasons but I think the main one is I’ve let fear, insecurity and perfectionism stunt me.
For years I’ve let the dream fall away figuring it wasn’t meant to be while being frustrated and wondering why God would give me this passion if he wasn’t going to provide the means to realize it.
Fortunately I’m to slowly being drawn back.
I’ve started to learn about the mysterious nature of creativity and have begun to practice other forms of it.
Somewhat ironically, writing on this blog has served as one of the most important catalysts to pull me back towards the dream. It has been a regular creative discipline and through it I’ve seen some important principles of the creative life lived out, one of the most important being that creative works rarely fall in our laps perfect formed. Rather, it takes time and lots of practice to chisel away at them until they start to resemble something worth sharing.
Most importantly, I’m learning to worry less about what people think and to put my work out there even when it might not seem perfect to me.
If I’m honest, early on my desire to play music publicly was largely driven by wanting to be liked and to receive public recognition. At times that same drive has kept me from putting out anything I thought people might not like or may make me look silly.
But through my blog I’ve seen that some of the posts I’m most insecure about are the ones that seem to resonate most with people and some of the ones I feel most confident about don’t make as much of a splash.
All of this is showing me just how much is outside of my control.
I’m learning that my responsibility is to just create and leave the results up to God because, in reality, I have no control over how anything is received.
So, as I write this, I continue inching back towards the original dream. A couple of friends and I have committed to playing at an open mic night by the end of the year. At this point we’re playing covers of other people’s music but eventually, soon hopefully, we’ll start playing some of our own. It is one small yet significant step in the right direction.
Even now the old fear and insecurity tries to surface once in a while. But now it is different and this new wisdom helps keep the fear at bay. I remember that the call to create is so much bigger than me.
It is no longer about trying to be famous and gain notoriety. Instead it is about experiencing the amazing and mystical privilege of cooperating in the creative process with the Great Creator and hopefully encouraging some people along the way. So, I press forward, leaving the results where they should be – out of my hands.