Saturday, July 18, 2015

You won't always be the headliner in life, and that's fine

(Brandon Heath opening for Toby Mac in Kingsport TN at Funfest 7/16/15)

Parents simply don't tell their young kids, "When you grow up, you can be anything you want, you could be the Vice President!"  As a culture we undervalue anything short of 1st place.  Is that healthy?  What does it take to bring out our potential anyway?

The only way we get better at whatever our craft is, is to keep doing over & over what we are trying to perfect with practice, effort, feedback, and hopefully with a lot of encouragement from those who count along the way.  

Whether it's music, writing, any art or task, we have to keep working at getting better.  In life, no one sets out to be the opening band, that's more like a starting place in the minds of most.  Yes, die hard fans, committed family, close friends & loved ones love the opening band, still the opening band knows many of the general fans came to see the headliner.  

The truth is, the opening band is hardest working crew on stage.  They are pouring their heart & soul into their music, they are hungry, and they won't settle for anything but giving their fans their best effort.  Headliners can leave us with the sense they are going through the motions, it's all routine. 

I think building your reputation as an artist or craftsman or practitioner is much more rewarding than resting on past accomplishments. To be future oriented is healthier than thinking your best days are behind you. "Arriving" is a moving target that is ever allusive. 

If you find yourself in the "opening band" category of life and you wrestle with it, one step that will help bring you peace is the realization you aren't in competition with the headliners. You are your own standard. You are unique. 

The other night as I waited with our son for Toby Mac to take the stage, the opener, Brandon Heath, was so humble and he played his heart out in such a way, I was impressed, it gave me a new appreciation for the folks in life who show up and work hard even though most of the crowd is waiting on someone else.

Brandon Heath also showed me the difference between performing well, and putting on a performance to just impress people.  Brandon definitely accomplished the former.

In life we won't always be on the center stage, we won't always be the name on the marque, sometimes we are the ones off to the side.  Trying to get published, recorded, filmed, or wherever you are trying to make headway in won't be easy, but it's even harder if you think you are going make it there the easy way... and everyone else is your competition.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Skin like Styrofoam

As a kid I loved drinking out of Styrofoam cups.  When I was finished with my drink, I liked to bite off chunks all the way around the rim.  I'd chew the Styrofoam and then, well, spit it out.  Then came the days when people complained that Styrofoam wouldn't ever go away in our landfills and you couldn't recycle it, it was bad news.  I still enjoyed biting my cup anyway.

You have to be careful when you hold Styrofoam; if you hold it too tightly, you'll crush it.  It works great for coolers, but they break easily too.  Lately, I've come to think of people as having Styrofoam skin.  It looks like it's strong, but it's looks are deceptive.  There are a lot of loud people who act strong, but are about as sturdy as a Styrofoam cup.

Somehow as a culture we've lost our ability to be flexible and roll with being offended.  Frankly, I think we are setting an unhealthy trend.  People need to be able to be offended, and we need to quit acting like it's the end of the world when someone says or stands for something we don't like.

PC, politically correct correctness has evolved, or maybe better said devolved, into an emotionally handicapping state of affairs.  If it's not PC, then it's people being offended over phrases or symbols or stances they find unacceptable.  You may not like what someone says or what they stand for, but you shouldn't crumple emotionally over the situation.  Get over it and move on.

If we as a culture or nation can't handle being offended, we won't be able to defend ourselves from real threats, threats that can destroy us.  We will no longer be the land of the free or the home of the brave, not if we chose to live in mamby pamby land, and the idea of mamby pamby land makes me want to spit.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Embracing Cuba

I didn't vote for President Obama.  And frankly, I haven't been impressed with his performance too often, I don't feel he and I share many of the same values.  Still, I am excited about the news that our relationship with Cuba is about to change, thanks to our President.  Most recent in this turn of events, I heard today we will be building embassies in each other's Capitols.  To me, this is great news!

Many people who are opposed to opening up our relationships with Cuba cite the Castro regime as an obstacle, saying we shouldn't engage with Cuba as long as they are led by a dictator.  To isolate an enemy, if Cuba can be classified as such, means to reduce any influence we could have with them down to zero.

I'm tired of hearing about our nation's military battles around the globe, so any time we can make peace with another country is refreshing to me.  And, Cuba is our neighbor.  In case you've forgotten, we are only 90 miles apart from each other.

I hope one day to vacation in Cuba with my wife.  I want to see the places Hemingway lived and wrote, I want to enjoy the food there, and I look forward to experiencing their rich culture.  I think this shift in our policy with Cuba has been a long time coming, and I can't wait to see our painful past being transformed into something new and healthy.  Well done Mr. President, well done sir.