Today, my starry-eyed girls and I finally snuck away to see La La Land.
And I cried. Like, big, ugly-cried. And there were a few guttural sounds along with the tears. As in, the lady next to me looked as if she was worried that I was experiencing some sort of random cinematic breakdown. When Emma Stone sang THAT song (if you’ve seen it, you know the one), I cried hard, because this film is, as it has accurately been slated, a movie for dreamers, for performers, for artists, for those who are driven to add beauty to the world. This film brought up something deeply tangled in my belly, a pain and a joy. And I knew my girls would love it . . . and cry, too.
Here’s why all the sobbing: I am 42 years old. I have been singing from my earliest memories. I have been writing songs (not good ones, mind you, but actual structured songs) since I was six. I still remember several of them, and have been known to throw out a kitchen performance or two when prompted, just for laughs. There has never been a time that music has not carried my memories, my goals, my struggles, even my faith. Rejection has been bitter and plentiful over all these years. Success as the world would define it has been minimal. Quitting has been a frequent refrain. And, at times, being dismissed and misunderstood seems to have been the backdrop of the whole story.
I know, “cry me a river.” Well, I did right there in the AMC.
It is only in the last five years or so that I have begun really embracing the way I was “fearfully and wonderfully made” in this respect. Writing music and lyrics was never just a “hobby” to me. I know that sounds hokey, and people have often rolled their eyes when I’ve said as much, but music to me was breath and primal communication and actual being and “how can people not GET this?!”
It still is.
And only now am I beginning to appreciate the weird blessing it is to carry . . .
-a FIRE (that will probably never burn all that brightly from a stage)
-a DRIVE (that pushes and pushes and wakes you up at 2am and gives you crystal-clear focus then drives you absolutely crazy)
-a PASSION (that lives beyond expression, but stirs in the depths of your atoms)
-an ACHE (because, no matter how much the rejection sears your outer shell, you can’t seem to shake the need to try, try again)
-a DEEP-BREATH SATISFACTION (that feeling when a piece is finished and you know it is right and good and that you have been true to your Maker – euphoria)
Because this is WHO you are, not what you do.
And it is a blessing. And a burden. And only recently have I come to accept that it is absolutely there for a reason -- not to fulfill my own ambitions or to make money (heaven knows that seldom happens), but to serve a sacred purpose.
I have given myself permission to exist in the weird, to smile at my God through my plethora of creative tears, because I know he did this on purpose. I truly believe that God kindles these little fires in certain of his creations from day one. The drive to create – to paint or sing or write screenplays or tell stories – is woven deep into our DNA . . . and He has declared it “good”.
Sometimes, the Artist loves through His artists.
I pray that my kids will be able to embrace what lies within them early on, like even now. Bless their little artistic bents, I pray they will learn to shirk off those who ask what they “really” want to do for a living and to know that the Almighty Creator whipped them up special – with a pinch of song & dance, a dash of color, and a whole heaping helping of emotion – for His glory, to bring something beautiful from within the confines of their hearts and out into the cold, ugly, broken world.
So go forth, and be the sunbeam that points back to the source of all light and warmth.
And when the world misunderstands you, when you are dismissed and condescended to for your passion, when your friends and family and churches and seemingly the whole world can find no place for what God has given you to give, DO NOT STOP. Get back up and get ready to fall again if you have to. Hone and perfect and be excellent in what you have to offer. You are a beautiful representation of the Creator who made you – the world needs you. It needs you!
And I needed this movie.
Here’s to the ones who dream.