In choosing a head shot for the column, I was concerned about my hair. The editor said with a quip, “It’s chasing the wind.”
I laughed and thought, “Yes, it’s folly and vanity.” To think that I am worried about concealing extra pounds, and my age and hair when I am spilling my guts out every week in a newspaper column. What am I doing? Yes, it is folly. I think I am in deep water. If I don’t drown, maybe I’ll learn how to swim.
“Chasing the wind” brought to memory a young songwriter who could write a song at the mention of one word. I was always curious about how he did that. Some were funny, some very serious. So, I asked him about it. How could anyone just write songs one after another? Where did they come from and how did he keep up with the demands of writing? Was he afraid that he might dry up and the songs wouldn’t be there?
He began by telling me that his songs came from two places. Sometimes they came from the depth of pain from his soul and other times it was the overflow of his joy; different places and different feelings. Some are good and some, not so good. Some would make it onto a recording, some in a songbook, some in a file, and some just stored somewhere in his mind, but he kept writing. He just let them happen and he didn’t worry about it and didn’t force it.
Sounded great, but what if those songs aren’t in you? How do you make it happen?
He continued to tell me an example of how it worked for him. “It’s a gift. It’s like surfing. You have to get out in the water first of all and believe that you can do it. Then, you wait to catch that first wave, and you ride it. There is a time when you’ve ridden that first wave, and then you catch the next and the next. People dry up because they ride the same wave until it takes them to shore and are beached. They start out with a good idea and they won’t let it go. When a person refuses to catch the next wave and go with the flow, he finds himself out of the water and without words to write.”
I didn’t understand the young songwriter then. I didn’t have the depth of soul or the joy of living; I hadn’t discovered the gift that was in me. I could have pushed it, pried it, and dumped it upside down, but until it is time, it doesn’t happen.
Life has its ebbs and its flows. I’ve been in my ebbs and I have enjoyed my flows. And only life determines the time. There was a time when I would have fought to hold on or just drown in the trying. I have caught many waves; some brought me to shore and beached me and some turned me upside down and drenched me good and I had to be rescued. But there were other times that I lived the excitement and enjoyed the ride.
If we are afraid of the water and say “I’ll just watch and enjoy it from my beach chair.” Then we’ll stay dry and we won’t get the bruises and scars, but we will miss the thrill and the adventure of discovering what we can do.
Sustainability! How does one sustain momentum? It’s folly to think I can promise the length or height of the wave, it is like holding onto the wind, “where it comes from and where it goes, no one knows.” When it’s my time, hopefully, I’ll be prepared to hold on to my board, catch the next big wave, and ride it until another one comes along.
I have found that when we are looking for the next wave, we’re not concerned about our hair, if we are the oldest one on the beach or how we look in a swimming suit. We just make sure we have our life jacket on and look for that one moment when we chase the wind and finally catch it.
Final Brushstroke! Your gift will make room for you. Wait for the moment, hold your gift loosely and be ready to ride it out.
Comments from readers
“Boy, can I relate to the last two articles on Politics in the Arts and Some are Called, Others are Driven! I certainly know the desire for recognition and the heartbreak of rejection. So many times of trying to get into juried shows, only to be rejected, trying to get into galleries only to be told your work doesn’t fit. - I’ve been through it all.
“The idea of being true to yourself is a wonderful one, but it surely is hard to maintain. It is writers like you that give us the determination to continue to do what we think is the right thing. For that, I owe you a great amount of thanks. Your article about me was very uplifting for my ego. - Thank you for that also. I really enjoy your writings.”
Don’t let up.
“I love the message, ‘Some are Called, Others are Driven.’ It’s something I struggle with — prioritizing projects, submissions vs. volunteer work, and what the real aim is in doing all of this. What does God want vs. what I want. God’s ideas vs. my ideas, etc.
Please send your comments to Bettyslade@centurytel.net. We will pass them on to the readers.
Quote for the Week
“My friends, let us give our souls to our cause, let us work with our heart, and truly love what we love.” — Vincent Van Gogh.