Sunday, August 31, 2008

Still a Student

Well, school is back in full swing, and instead of commenting on how long it's been since my last post (exactly one month) I will simply inform all you readers out there that I will be doing some musical recording today. I am interested to see how it goes.

I will also be spending an hour or so playing some of my music live, in front of whoever decides to show up, at a little place called The Living Room in Muncie, IN on October 31. A young whippersnapper named Joe Paulson will also be performing, so perhaps all you trick-or-treaters can make your way on down to Muncie to make yourselves sick on the candy you just "tricked" your neighbors out of, and listen to some original tunes while you do so.

...and no, I will not be playing the song "Halloweenhead" by Ryan Adams.

But seriously, this summer is over. I am reminded of the perks and downfalls of still being a student. I got to relax this summer, a lot. But now I return to a world where there are responsibilities, deadlines, assignments, readings, and a whole lot of time being consumed. And the funny thing is, I'm returning voluntarily. Anyone who's ever been in school (e.g. everyone) has at one point or another wondered, "Why? Why spend all this time and effort on jumping through the societal hoops known as 'degree requirements' or 'grade point averages' and the like? Why not go outside and play instead?" I often wonder such things, and I'm sure many of you do almost daily. But the answer to which we must return is that for one reason or another, spending so much time reading, writing, thinking, etc. actually (somewhere along the line) caused us to learn things. Not only that, but it also made us better people. We became educated, gaining informational wisdom, and formational experience.

Maybe we didn't notice it until years later, though, when someone asked us a question and we knew the answer, or when a situation arose and we knew how to handle it. There was just something about spending all that time immersed in all that work that actually helped us, changed us, grew us, and when the time came, we were ready. We were educated.

And as the summer comes to a close, I also find myself frustrated at my lack of musical productivity. I had planned to write a new song every other day. Actual results? I re-worked one or two of my old ones, played a coffee shop a few times, and that's it. I spent hours at the piano, on an almost daily basis, but I've nothing to show for it. Now summer is done, and I really don't have the time I once did, the time to write, to create.

But the lesson I have to learn about education is also one (I think) I have to learn about artistic creation. Like so many good things, it too requires an investment, almost what we would call a sacrifice, to even start to bring about fruit.

I must be a student of my craft.

Maybe all those hours spent in the "music room" at my parents' home in Kentucky were in vain. Or maybe, somewhere along the line, I picked something up that will lie dormant for the next 6 years, until one day, inspiration strikes, and the seed planted during the summer of '08 will suddenly sprout from what looked like dry, dead ground. And I'll look down and realize that an entire network of roots have been laid in the ground, and that a truly great thing can now come to life because of what had been invested years before.

I guess I'm not really thinking about songwriting anymore. I'm anxious to see the kind of forest that will be growing in the Kingdom of Heaven. I'm anxious to wake up one day and suddenly realize that, all around me, He has been planting, watering, growing, pruning, and preparing His people for the real show. The same anxiety that plagues me as someone who is "still a student" bothers me in my pursuit of the Kingdom as well as in the pursuit of my music. I would just rather be done with the learning, to be the expert that is ready to make it happen. This is why I need that reminder of the importance of learning. It really is one's experience that makes one an expert.

But for now, I would be content to just write one really good song.