One year ago today, I spent the last day of my thirties hanging out with my good buddy Chris Beall in the studio. (You'll find the result of that day hanging out under the "music" tab at the top of this page.) I had no idea what fun 40 could be, or I wouldn't have dreaded it so much.
I had just finished closing the books on a business that was enjoyable and had great potential, but didn't really fit the next phase of life. I longed to give songwriting another shot - I had started pursuing it in the early 2000's but had to set it aside to take care of my family for a while. At the time I felt like it was just a season, but 14 years later, I really wondered if it was permanent. And I tried so hard to be okay with that.
Oh, but my heart would not let me off the hook.
Madeleine L'Engle tells the story in her memoir A Circle of Quiet about how she tried to give up writing after a string of rejections. She went to cover the typewriter and then realized that she was subconsciously, simultaneously, creating a story in her head about a writer that was giving up. That was the point when she realized a profound truth about herself.
I had to write. I had no choice in the matter. It was not up to me to say I would stop, because I could not. It did not matter how small or inadequate my talent. If I never had another book published, and it was clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing.
So I wrestled that one out. I cried hot, frustrated rivers of tears over that. I even begged God to take all of the music away at one point so I could just be normal. (I think He laughed a bit at this.) And I ended up at the same conclusion as Ms. L'Engle.
I can't not.
I don't know how to not.
I've always done music. I just hadn't called it my job for a while. But I wrote every day, played or sang every day, volunteered at church, helped in the studio, all kinds of stuff. It's just how I relate to the world. I don't know how to be any other way.
And my biggest concern was the family. We're in a better season now to pursue this, but still, I set the career aside once to take care of them, and I needed their blessing to pick it up again.
Yeah, they pretty much insisted. They're great like that.
So I took a really deep breath, dried up all those hot tears, and wrote a song about my great aunt Irene and her husband Baby Joe (they deserve a blog post all their own, keep your eyes peeled.) Then I took it over to Chris. And things started to happen.
So goodbye, 40, you were a wonderful surprise. 41, let's do this.
Thanks, God, for the mid-life crisis.