So, I was thinking about this a lot last week, I just couldn’t get any time to blog. When taking stock of my life thus far, I can’t help but be awestruck by how blessed I have been. I am so thankful, but that also makes me paranoid, too. (more on that later…)
Relationally: I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for 15 years. There’s no way around the fact that in this day and age, that is a huge accomplishment. The fact that we still have fun together, we still laugh, we still like to be together seems to be blessing heaped upon blessing. Yes, she is so giving and so good and puts up with my laziness and shenanigans, obviously I lucked out. But, I also get the feeling that she really still likes me, too. She has always encouraged me and has always been willing to follow me into any craziness that I’ve attempted. I know many a musician who’s biggest struggle has been a spouse willing to trust them and their dreams to provide. Even when my dreams barely provided, H has always been unrelenting in her belief in me. How could I be deserving?
Neither of us feel like we regret waiting 13 years to have our first child, but Ivy is also too much blessing for words. She’s healthy, smart, goofy, easy-going, and generally been nothing but joy in my life. She has her moments like any 2 year old, but as she’s started communicating better and better, H and I are often surprised at what a fun sense of humor she seems to have and how much we’re loving watching her experience the world.
I am so thankful for the fact that my mom and my sister are both healthy and well and that I have a great relationship with both of them. My mom has always supported me and been there to help whenever she’s able. It’s fun to see her be so excited and so in love with her grand-daughter. I’m thankful that she’s still feisty and in good health to be a part of my family.
My sister is easily one of my favorite people on the planet. I believe she may be the most creative, talented, and generous person I know. She challenges me and encourages me and makes me laugh. I love that we are friends as well as siblings and am often jealous of her time and attention. I only wish we were closer geographically and were able to work on some more projects together.
I don’t have a big family, so it’s even more huge that the family I have is close. My only disappointment is that my dad is gone. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I often feel cheated that I was just reaching an age where I could see relating to my dad as an adult when he died. I often consider my own feelings and the way that i react to people and situations and realize that so much of who I am comes from the way my parents raised me. It’s even more amazing to know that my dad had so little model to go by for himself. To know that, by and large, he was “winging it” as a father to me make me even more thankful for the traits that he passed to me. I’ve accomplished things that I so want to share with him. I would love to talk to him about how I’m teaching now and share that experience as well. It would be so fun to see him fall in love with his grand daughter.
Professionally: For nearly all of my adult life, I, like many males, have defined myself by my profession. And I have loved defining my profession as being a singer/songwriter/producer/musician. I learned early on (and had to keep re-learning and reminding myself) that as a musician, you have to define what “success” looks like. Monetary gain is a poor indicator of success in nearly any profession and fame is even worse. And frankly, were I to measure my own success in those terms, I’d have little to show. However, I am proud of many professional accomplishments in this arena. I have released and paid for numerous full-length recordings of my own music. Releasing single full-length recording is an accomplishment in and of itself. The fact that I’ve released records that 1) I’m proud of the songs and the recordings 2) the records sold well enough to pay for themselves is a HUGE accomplishment by any one’s measure of success. I have received some recognition for my songwriting and recordings and I am confident that I’m not delusional in my understanding of that success.
Granted, this is kind of a weird topic in my life right now. For the first time, I am redefining myself at least professionally. I am now a middle school teacher. And although I struggle to accept this new definition of myself and leaving the old definition of “professional singer/songwriter” behind, the fact is that I think I’m a pretty good teacher. In my certification modules, I feel like I have an intuition, ability and understanding of what is important and necessary that rises above and beyond many of my fellow novice teachers. I won’t say that I’m the best, and I am definitely still learning, but I’ve been convinced since early on in this process that I can do this better than most.
In my current position, I am working in a great, small school with co-teachers that i really like. I have students who remind me a lot of the students that I grew up with. I enjoy a good, but not ludicrous amount of responsibility with an abundance of leisure time to spend with my wife and daughter that the teaching profession provides. I don’t make gobs of money, but am immensely proud of the fact that we are making our way out of debt and that H gets to stay home and raise our daughter. I also don’t have to worry about being laid off like so many professions. My job is generally secure as long as I want it. Of course, I wish that I could figure out a good way to make more $, but often times I realize that there are very few things that I want beyond what I have.
Physically: Ok, so I’m not the skinny kid I was when I grew up. It would be great if I lost about 30-40 lbs. In spite of that, I’m pretty healthy and so is the rest of my family. My cholesterol check out ok, my blood pressure was good last time and I don’t have to visit the doctor more than 1 or 2 times a year for sinus infections/colds etc. My 20 year class reunion will be in 2010. With my mom not living in my hometown anymore and the fact that I didn’t even go to my 10 year makes me think that there’s very little chance I’ll be motivated to go to my 20 year reunion. But one way or another, I plan to have shed this weight and get in better shape by that time.
Spiritually: My spiritual life looks much different than what I would have predicted even as recently as 10 years ago and radically different than what i would have hoped 15-20 years ago. Previously, I’ve had in mind a very rigid definition of what “living the Christian life” looked like. I, like many, would say that “living a Christian life” had a lot to do with daily devotion and meditation, prayer and scripture memorization, purification of the heart and mind by these acts of personal discipline. I know that many may be alarmed by the fact that I disbelieve most of these narrow definitions of manifestations of Christian spirituality at least in how they relate to me and my life.
For me, regular prayer and meditation have less to do with personal seclusion and silent petition to a audibly silent diety. I think prayer includes personal reflection, being thankful, being thoughtful, observing and embracing beauty, and in all of these things trying to remain open to God’s presence at all times. This is not an excuse for the lack of prayer in my life. I struggle with it. I need to reflect more. I need to be open to God’s moving more. I need to be more thankful. I need to notice and appreciate the beauty around me more. I often think of Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof. His faith and his prayer life seem real to me. He spoke his frustrations and his fears to God all the time. He was thankful and he accepted God’s providence.
In terms of scripture memory, I have a really bad attitude about it. Christians are so good at making sound bites out of the Bible and memorizing scripture seems to promote that way of thinking about it. It allows people to use scripture to be used in ways that I don’t think were ever intended. There were no verses or chapters when it was written. It was not intended to be a handbook or text book. It is NOT “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. It is a collection stories and poems and histories and legends and songs. I think that’s on purpose. If God wanted to give us a handbook, he would have done so, and when we have a question about abortion or gay marriage or stem cell research, we would be able to look it up in the index and find the text that tells us exactly what to do, how to think, and how to feel. And many Christians tend to treat it like that, but they’re never going to convince anybody outside the fold of scriptures power as long as they try use scripture in that way. In fact, I dare say that by using scripture in that way, in the way it was not intended, successfully continue to repel those who have not embraced its message which is so much more complex than any soundbites we make out of it.
It would be easy to say that my personal definition has changed in order to accomadate my own lack of discipline and wavering motivation and flimsy devotion. I think this is a valid point and concede that it would be easy to judge me in this way. The good thing is that I don’t believe that God judges me in this way and I don’t really have to worry about what you think.
The fact is that I am involved with a church that I love and that loves me. We are not all on exactly the same page, but close enough that we keep trying. I have seen our little church love and care for each other and even for those outside of ourselves. We are intent on believing that doing something and praying that God would use our efforts is probably going to do much more than locking ourselves away and talking and praying about how much “we want God to move. ”
So, I say all this with fear. I am so thankful, but fear that the other foot will eventually fall. I just try to be thankful and appreciative of all that is good in my 37 years of life.