Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Looking for Balance

Incognito has asked a question in response to An Appeal that has taken a lot of thought on my part. Her question is, " a creative Soul, how do you balance the need to express that creativity with the need to make a living?"

The short answer is that I don't do it very well. My job and responsibilities as a father, husband, and now grandfather often take a toll on the creative energies. Add to that responsibilities with my church and community and the demands of home ownership and the number of hours in the day that are available for creative endeavors diminishes quickly. So, I squeeze it in where I can. I make it a priority where possible, but often it falls low enough on the list that it is a struggle to fit it in.

Blogging has helped me to release that creative energy on a regular basis. I often am composing posts in my head throughout the day. Then, when I have time, I basically "dump" them into written form. Our mind is an amazing thing. If we will let it work, there are many tasks that can run "in the background" while we continue to deal with the "gotta deal with it right now" stuff. It adds a new dimension to effectively and efficiently utilizing the time that we are given.

Once upon a long time ago, a college professor told me, "There's more than one way to skin a cat." (apologies to you cat lovers) It is a phrase that I had heard all of my life, but for some reason, it had a deep impact on me at the time. It basically had to do with career choices. I took it to mean that there are multiple ways to pursue our dreams and that the direct path is not always the best or the only one. I tried to put that idea into the context of God's word.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." __Psalm 37:4

This basically told me that I needed to have my priorities right. When that was done, he would grant to me the desires of my heart. At the time I didn't realize that he would also be shaping and refining the desires of my heart.

I dropped out of college to figure out who I was. I came to the realization that working to make a living that would just barely get me by was the pits. I felt strongly that God wanted me to do something with my music. I had written a few songs and wanted to become a star. So, I packed up and headed toward Austin, Texas, to try and break into the music scene via 6th Street. I went through College Station to visit a friend of mine on the way to Austin and he suggested that College Station was as good a place as Austin for pursuing music. He offered me a place to live and suggested that while I was there anyway, I should take a few classes at A&M. Smart guy. I don't know that I've ever properly thanked him for that advice.

I started playing music in one of the local hangouts. Some of the others that were making their way through A&M at the same time were Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keene -- both of whom have gone on to successful careers in the music business. I preceded Lyle Lovett on stage one night and have received a few pointers from Robert Earl Keene. I'm sure that neither of them would remember me.

As I began to develop a sense of my musical self I began to think of next steps for pursuing such a career. It didn't take long for the realities of the music business to conflict with my pursuit of God's will for my life. He brought me to the realization that my plans did not fit His will for my life. I re-focused on getting a degree and a job.

During my Senior year in college I became engaged and ultimately married and had children. Music was pushed to the edges. It became therapeutic for me in many ways. It was my outlet and my escape. In time, it became an offering to God. That is what it is today. My musical outlet is through my church.

Writing music slowly evolved into poetry and prose. I have a couple of novels started, but not well developed. Poetry and song are very closely related. I have journaled at various times as an outlet. I call my entries "Random Thoughts." I have boxes full of notebooks and loose pages of things that I have written through the years. It is disorganized and probably rubbish. In the back of my mind however, something tells me not to throw it out. Perhaps my grand children will find a few gems in it someday.

Blogging has become my primary creative outlet. I have attempted to discipline myself to an entry per day. Sometimes there have been more, a few times I have missed. Some of it hopefully contains something of value to someone other than me, and some of it is done hurriedly because I am strapped for time. The best of it is inspired by God. Sometimes I look back over what I have written and think, "where did that come from?" Usually they are the better entries.

I don't know if I've answered your question, Incognito, but maybe I've given you some insight on where I find some level of balance. I strive to go where God leads. Any talent that I might have is a gift from Him. I pray that I will use it according to His will.


WomanHonorThyself said...

stunning post sweet Poet..I too, have almost written a book which no doubt will never get done..but blogging has enabled me to let the creative juices flow!..I play guitar but badly..ha!..the musicians I know have led mostly decadent lives and never could afford health insurance even..More power to u and your beautiful family. God bless y'all!

Ranando said...

Great post PP....

I'v lived my life on what my grandfather told me on his death bed.

"Remember, when it's all over and your laying on your death bed. You won't be sorry for what you did, you'll be sorry for what you didn't do".

I was 14 standing beside him when he died, that was the last thing he said to me.

It's worked for me and I think of what he said everyday.

You only have one life to live, make sure it's a good one.

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Keep on blogging Panhandle!

Pat Jenkins said...

yes keep blogging panhandle. please take this question in the most non confrontational way, but i wonder why you felt as you had been lead to pursue your music, did God then suddenly, change his direction in your life when you are clearly gifted with what only a God could give you?

Incognito said...

Beautifully put Pan, and yes you did answer my question.

It's funny because, though many times I have wanted to give up the acting, I have continued because I know this is what God wants me to be doing. And, as you say, if you submit to doing His will you will be led to what you are meant to be doing. That has been proven to me time and time again.

I think trusting that God will provide for my every need is a lesson I need to learn this lifetime and being in a job with no stability is the only way to learn that. So I embrace it.

I do know that my Soul needs creativity, but I think that can take any form.. in that case it's good you keep blogging. It gives your Soul the outlet it needs.

Anonymous said...

I just work to live and pay my bills. I figure my real life takes place on my free time, what there is of it.

You seem to have made a lot of good friends with your blog, and clearly you enjoy it, I'd say you are quite successful there.

Congratulations on the new addition to the extended family.

Panhandle Poet said...

Thank you friends for your wonderful comments.

Pat: Good question. I think the path that I've taken with my music is the one God had in mind. I also think that much of it still lies in front of me. Sometimes we strike out in the direction that we "think" we are being led only to find that our course needs some correction. I believe that God truly has a tailor-made course for each of His children. As we go and grow, he is working to refine us in many ways -- making us into that which He would have us to grow into. Incognito believes that the uncertainty of her acting is helping her to grow her faith -- I suspect she is correct. I think in the case of music for me, I have always been called to use it for God's glory, not my own. I just couldn't see that for a while. I continue to write songs occasionally, and I sing in the choir at church. I also sing in some other smaller group venues and am available for special music, etc. as needed. My music also I think contributed to my daughter's ability and desire to play the piano. Sometimes the path is multi-generational that God is building. Sometimes we don't see the impact that we might have on others along the way. I hope someday in the next life that He will reveal those things to me. I hope that answers your question.

Texas Red said...

your music had a huge impact on me playing the piano...and learning to play it well. if it hadn't been for your pushing and encouragement, I would have quit a long time ago.

Pat Jenkins said...

pp it does and thank you. i think there is a confrontation sometimes in person's lives with God and i will explain. this by no way is questioning a God or his direction but a struggle consistent in man. that being a God of the soul, or of a human being, versus the God of law. the God of the soul has gifted, called and purposed all for some grand work for their lives, this can sometimes come into conflict with a God of law who says it is ones own responsibility for his provision. the God of law wins in most peoples lives leaving the soul lost. i hope that you as well as all "people" always follow the love, purpose, and calling in their life. keep playing!! i look forward to more of your posts and poetry i like your perspective!!!

Panhandle Poet said...

Pat: Based on your comment, I think there is a fundamental difference between us that makes true understanding difficult. Your use of "a God" implies a belief in multiple gods, or at least a use of the word God that has a different meaning to you than what it does to me. I believe there is ONE GOD who is Creator and Sustainer of all that is or ever will be. I believe that God manifested himself to mankind through the ages in various ways until ultimately in the form of Jesus Christ He reached out to man on our level so that we can accept that He truly understands and identifies with us. Upon Christ's resurrection and ascencion to heaven He sent His Holy Spirit (although He had worked in man at various times through the presence of His Spirit prior to that) to dwell in the hearts of those who believe in Him and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Sometimes men allow things to dominate their lives and in a way become gods to them -- notice that I use the lower case g. These are not God. They are poor substitutes. The God that I worship is the God of love, the God of my soul and body, and He is the God of law. The law was fulfilled, and continues to be fulfilled, by Jesus who met the requirements of the law because I as man, am unable to do so.

Among the many failings of the church today (I refer to the church universal -- not a specific denomination) is legalism. It was also the failure of the Jewish Sanhedrin in the time of Jesus. They lost sight of the fact that salvation comes through faith in God, not in man's puny efforts at meeting every requirement of the law. It led ultimately to their rejection of Jesus as Messiah because He did not fit their "idea" of what He should be. Many evangelical churches and Christians today fail in their legalistic condemnation of others. The effect is often the opposite of that which they desire. This is a failing of man -- not of God. Jesus confronted sin, but He loved people and showed that love by serving others. His was a life of service which led Him to the cross where He performed the ultimate service in His sacrifice of His earthly life to meet the requirement of the law of God for the salvation of mankind.

I hope that clarifies my concept and understanding of God for you. If it coincides with your belief, then I apologize for mis-understanding your reference. My goal IS understanding and open dialogue is the only way that I know to reach that point.

Thank your for your comments Pat.

MotherPie said...

Yes, blogging can be a creative outlet AND a brain dump. Interesting that you played music on the stages in Texas. Texas is a huge creative fomenting musical pot. My husband was giving me lessons yesterday saying that there is a touch of James Taylor, too, in Michael Hearne's music and then he launched into the history of the commune and musicians (?) where Ray Wylie and Kris Kristofferson, etc. played and said that Keane was the big headliner in Kerrville.

MySpace might be something for you to think about if you want to put some of your original music up. I keep telling my brother to do that with his band's music that is a hobby rather than a big business.

Pat Jenkins said...

pp i think you have misunderstood. as i said previous i am no means believing or refering to any God other than the God of the prophets. what i was hoping to convey was a conception man holds and then attaches that to God. my point was God has indwelt each and everyone with gifts, talents and has purposed them for that work. responsibities i.e. things expected of you then can conflict with that which God has "called" one to do. thus creating a lost so in a sense. i completely understand any disagreement with this. that is all i was trying to impart.

Panhandle Poet said...

Pat, thanks for the clarification. Such conversations have a purpose and we often don't know the full impact on ourselves, or others in clarifying our personal beliefs.

Again, thanks for the comments.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I really enjoyed this post.

Panhandle Poet said...

Thank you Patrick.

Janie said...

Great post, Poet!

little sister said...

Your music, and the fact that you let a little squirt play on the floor and sing along with you, have also greatly impacted my life! I always tell people that you taught me to sing! (Well, you and John Denver!) You have also listened, encouraged and pushed me all along the way with the piano and singing...which both now serve as my primary ministry outlet in the church. Plus, I love telling people you were a "lounge singer" when you were at A&M!

Panhandle Poet said...

Why thanks, Little Sis! I'm happy to know you took my bad influence and turned it into something good!!