One of my absolute favourite things to buy for myself, is new music. Music is a passion of mine and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve been a student of it my whole life. Watching documentaries and movies, reading books, memorizing lyrics, watching awards shows, going to concerts, seeking advice from other songwriters I admire. Even learning a measly amount of guitar just so I can write my own songs. My head automatically turns to anything related to it…or should I say, my heart. Once in a while I will treat myself to a new album. You know…a CD. A record. If any of those terms aren’t familiar to you then I feel sorry for you because you’re missing out. And that is exactly where this entire idea for this blog comes from. So, sit back and let me teach you something!
My parents grew up listening to music on the radio. Or they would buy vinyl records. (You know those big square things you put into a record player? Those things that are apparently all the rage again? Yeah, those were cool before some of us were even born!) I, on the other hand grew up listening to music either on the radio or on cassette tapes. Soon after a few years passed, CD’s were the hot new thing. It was always so exciting to me to get a new CD. And it still is! Even now, I can’t wait to tear open the plastic wrapping so I can go through the booklet inside and read through every thank you note, every lyric, songwriter and musician names, the pictures. All of it. I love the process and the teams of people it took to get the finished product into my hands. There’s something so satisfying about it all.
I remember being introduced to certain albums when I was growing up for the first time. Every song was a hit and stood on it’s own. All the songs and the stories behind why they were written; all strung together to form a story that is meant to be enjoyed from beginning to end. It all starts with a song. But even before the song is written, the writer of that song has to experience something. A feeling, a moment, an observation. Something has to make such an impression upon the songwriter that they are compelled to capture and bottle up that moment in time by putting pen to paper.
Today, it’s all about the digital download. In today’s high tech era of music, you don’t even have to buy all the songs on an artists album. You can now conveniently pick and choose only the ones that are your favourites. It’s all about the single. An “artist” these days is lucky if they have just ONE hit per album, leaving the rest of the songs as mere “fillers”. (Assuming they even get to the next album at all.) A lot of people are simply looking for their “15 minutes of fame” rather than falling in love with the art of music itself.
Social media has made it possible to be famous simply for the sake of being famous. No talent or any amount of depth required. I know that the digital downloading era in music has it’s certain perks and conveniences, don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking it. It certainly has it’s place. But it seems to me that it has cheapened the artistic process in the name of money and to fulfill this generations “we want it now!” mentality. In a lot of ways in can take away from the blood, sweat and tears of the many people it takes to complete a project of that magnitude. Often getting very little to no credit or recognition. Compared to generations past of buying an album and rushing home so you could listen to the entire thing, top to bottom, none stop until you had the whole thing memorized. When you knew the musicians and songwriters names. When an album had something to say and it spoke to you at your core. Sometimes even speaking to an entire generation. Ahhh, those were the days.
What is it about the process that we absolutely cannot stand anymore?
When did we stop appreciating the process it took to make something spectacular and we settled for a cheapened counterfeit simply because we cannot hold out and wait…just a little longer, for the real thing?
If I am being completely honest, patience is not my strongest virtue. By nature, I hate waiting. It drives me nuts. Especially when I’m really, really hopeful and excited about something. I’m sure most people have felt this to some degree. But I have learned, often times the hard way, that if it comes cheap, quick and/or easy, it tends to either not have very much lasting effect or benefit and is very shallow. Little to no substance whatsoever.
Think of it this way. If I’m feeling hungry, I would much rather have a home cooked meal that took some time and preparation to get it just right than to go out for some fast food. That hamburger and fries might do the job and fill my stomach in the moment, but I know from experience that I’m just gonna be hungry again not too long afterwards. And I won’t feel so good either. It was just a filler. There was no substance there. Now, on the other hand if I have a good steak, some roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables, that’ll fill me up till it’s time for breakfast. The good stuff takes time. It takes work and effort. A process.
In life, the good stuff can also take blood, sweat and tears. We don’t like it. We fight it till we’re blue in the face. We beg for moments that are easy and pain free. But those, I’m afraid, are few and far between. The things that I had to wait the longest for, are the things that I am most appreciative and thankful for. The time it took to finally get some peace and joy in my life, I’m not willing to let anything disrupt that ever again. It’s too valuable to me. Even the material things that I have, although it might not be much to other people, mean a lot to me because I worked hard to get what I have.
One of my favourite Bible verses is this: “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”~James 1:2-4
The process is what makes us who we are. It’s what changes us from being empty, shallow spineless jellyfish, to having grit and substance. It’s what gives us our backbone. It’s the difference between crumbling to our knees every time life tries to knock us down or standing our ground where we are so deeply rooted that we won’t be moved. Where we can smile in the face of adversity because we know what happens next…we win.
The process can feel way too long, unnecessary, tedious and just plain gross. But I have faith that what is waiting on the other side is worth every set back, every scar and every tear that was shed. My life…your life…is a song waiting to be written and put out into the world to influence others. Possibly even generations to come. But there is no substance without experience. There is no easier alternate route to grit. You cannot cultivate character any other way than having the patience in going through the process. Anything worth having in this life follows the same path. We just need the courage and endurance to say yes.