I’ll never forget the excitement of creating my first piece of music, a song I co-wrote with my friend Nathan LaGrange to use at the church where we were both employed to lead worship. It was a labor of love, born out of pure passion and shared imagination. We had no idea if it would work, if it would connect with people at all.
That one song became the energy that launched six live worship albums, a recording contract, and an eight year run of creative growth that all those involved still look back on with awe and gratefulness.
But that one song’s success also had a downside. Every time I sat down to write, I always wondered if I could do it again. If I could recapture the magic. Would the next song be as special as that first one? My raw passion to create turned into fearful need to re-create. And even as I look back on that rich season of my life, part of me still asks “how can I achieve that feeling again?” That sense of being caught up in momentum bigger than myself? How do I get “back there?”
And therein lies the beauty and the risk of life’s most meaningful moments. We rarely cherish them while they’re happening, and then when we realize that they did, we spend our future trying to recapture even the smallest of glimpses in the rear view mirror. When we stop imagining, we stop living forward.
I try to encourage my kids to spend time creating something themselves and quit the bad habit of only ingesting other people’s creative work (aka the television). “Draw a picture, pen a story, write a song” I hear myself saying. But consuming is easier than creating. Creativity takes time and effort and can feel extremely risky. What if it isn’t any good? Or what if it’s just not as good?
And then I realize how much of my life is spent running from the same questions.
I watch a lot of “television” of my own – classic broadcasts in the form of memories. Remember that? How can we do that again? How do we recapture that feeling? Can it ever be that good again? How do we get back there? And the driving force of my life quietly becomes longing for what was instead of creating what might yet be. That’s a tragedy. But it’s never too late to change course.
There is still beautiful music inside of you, too. Do you believe that? It’s time to step away from the numbing glow of your memory screen and begin to dream again – with you art, your career, with your family, in your relationships. It’s time to stir up your imagination, dare to risk, and take a crack at creating something new.
I guarantee your greatest song is yet to be written. Start writing.