Friday, November 7, 2008

Ruminations from the Beginning

I told an old friend that I had big things on the horizon. She asked “Where to?”

Two little words that sparked a lot of reflection.

So here’s my response, from which I spared her and opted to craft a cliff’s notes version. I thought it more appropriate to share here.

Funny to hear you speak of selling everything and driving off into the sunrise. That’s about right, and it’s really the result of a slow-burning fire, the kindling of which has been laid over the last few months or even years. The things that have led me to this place are really nothing short of miraculous. These things God has placed in my life to guide my steps are just mind-blowing. Freaking mind-blowing.

Not to oversell the story, or anything. ;)

I mean, I really only started to grasp the whole picture in the last few days, reading through old journals and ruminating on the person I was, not so long ago. I was just in this really dark place, full of doubts that I didn’t feel I should have. I mean, I was small, cynical, confused, and most of all, STUCK. I ‘liked’ my job in theory, but didn’t love it, and was craving more substance. I’d grown tired of catering to the whims of divas and devos and their A&R, management, and producers. And all for music that never really turned me on. I was in a relationship with a great girl, with whom I inexplicably could not move forward. I’d put my own music and craft almost entirely off for years in pursuit of someone else’s dream. And I’d backburned all pursuits of service and community involvement.

All this wasn’t really the problem, it’s that I was fixated on imaginary limitations on myself, my life, my work, my relationships, my finances, my career, and most importantly, my passions.

And slowly, this began to melt away, starting with an epiphany when I landed on a return flight from an epic trip to San Francisco with KJay to visit some dear friends, Megan and Brandon Baker. The plane landed with a jolt, and I pictured my then-girlfriend waiting in the terminal. The strangest thought manifested itself in my head: “Oh shit. I can’t lie to her any more.” This was a strange feeling for a guy who always strove to treat this girl with care, compassion, grace, and honesty. And this was a girl who he truly adored. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that, whatever we had (and it was genuinely great), I just wasn’t in it any more. So I let her go.

Then I began to quit tying myself up with my qualms at work and started getting a kick out of it again. By shifting my view of it to “job” rather than “life’s pursuit, all-consuming endeavor” I quit getting ticked when it wasn’t going well, when I wasn’t getting respect, when I had no time for anything else. The funny part here is that it wasn’t until I quit investing my whole worth in it that I really started kicking ass. I started seeing these label-heads and superstar artists as just people, probably a little less secure than me because of all they stand to lose. And somehow they started responding to me as a person and a friend rather than someone trying to get them to record a little song. I remember the day I realized this and thought, “damn, I should’ve quit obsessing a long time ago.”

I started lobbying for a promotion, ‘cause it seemed like I might as well be getting paid for all the ass I’m beginning to kick. Realizing this was an uphill climb, and not entirely realistic within the framework of our small company, I put in for positions at other places, but kept either not making the cut or for some reason opting out of the race. I finally figured out that none of these gigs were working out because I didn’t really want any of them. That was the moment I knew my time in Nashville had a quickly approaching date of expiration.

That week I stumbled upon this 3-month leadership and bible training program in New Zealand, followed by three months of intense travel in pockets of the third world feeding the hungry, relieving some missionaries to give them a much needed break, and just generally looking high and low for a God that I know, for the first time in a long time, is under every stone, in every set of eyes, flowing through every clean drink of water on thirsty lips.

I only had three reservations with deciding then and there that this was my path: 1) my band has finally gotten some steam and attention, with the record being completed and shows going well, 2)philosophical differences with many or most missions endeavors abroad, and 3) $$$$$$$$$.

1) So I prayed and Prayed and PRAYED for resolution and guidance. That week I more or less told the band I was taking a leave of absence, due to some strange, unrelated circumstances, and found that they weren’t the slightest bit upset, nor did I have any feelings of remorse.

2) I realized scripture doesn’t say “Figure out if you’re joining up with people who are ministering in a culturally low impact way, with a well-organized and efficient game plan, and THEN and ONLY THEN, go.” It just says “GO.” And the only real way of doing this appropriately is going to where GOD ALREADY IS and discovering ourselves already in his presence. Rob Bell had some cool things to say helping to clarify my mindset of missions as “bringing” the Gospel, as if it wasn’t already in effect EVERYWHERE.

3) Somehow, I have never been worried about raising money for missions and travel. I’ve always felt like that’s God’s domain, and he’s always come through before. However, I have some outstanding debt that I’m quite unwilling to leave the country before I get squared away, and I don’t want anyone else paying for my grievances. I did some quick research and math, and figured I could knock close to half of it out by selling all but a Jeepload of my stuff, and living rent-free with my folks for January and February and working my tail off. This still left a pretty significant ‘?’ looming. I kid not, the same DAY I told my family to be praying for guidance, I walked into my office to find a check from the owner of my company in the amount of an entire tenth of my annual salary. A letter revealed it to be a reward for hard work and loyalty, as a commendation for my humour and way with people, and as a celebration of our tenth year in business. I freaked out, jaw-dropped, and hugged him until it was awkward.

And that was pretty much all I needed.

I know I said this before, but now there’s nothing left but the going.

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