Monday, January 4, 2016

2015, the year that was.

I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions. In all honesty, I'm not really one for goal setting. That's not to say I don't have a sizable list of things I want to accomplish, but putting timelines on things I know are beyond my control is not really my style. (Cue the tut, tut's from the motivational speaker crowd.)

All of that to say that I've never really been one to write big, important, beginning-of-the-year blogs, lists, or year-in-review posts. And yet, here we are. Not because this kind of thing is something I always do or even see the need for, but because it feels appropriate given what I've been going through as of late.

On the one hand, I find myself still struggling with frustration because I'm still not where I want to be. As much as I see and recognize the lies of the culture in regards to what makes a successful and meaningful life, I still find myself combating the angst of not possessing what the world would classify as a "career". The money's not great, regular, or dependable at this point.

But then, I'm an artist. What was I expecting?

I was expecting to be THERE by now, that's what. THERE, that place along the journey of life where you get to pitch your tent for a nice long season and enjoy steady work and steady income from the job of your dreams. Because, after all, you've earned it. You've worked hard, you've been passionate, you've maintained focus and vision and direction while others around you checked out and faded away.

Or something.

This all coming from the guy who walks around repeating the mantra, "There are no equations". Inconsistency, thy name is Burns.

And so, today I take a step back to remind myself of what just one year has done for the formation of my career, for the realization of my dreams, and for my life.

I'll lead off with perhaps the most obvious contradiction between reality and my sense of things: I think I spent more time in 2015 as a working drummer than in any other year of my life. I spent more time behind the drum kit as an asset in someone's band than ever before. I got to record a great tune with a best friend in a famous Nashville studio. I got to tour North America with a wonderful artist and a group of new friends I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. I found opportunities to share in music ministry playing worship services with a bunch of different churches and worship leaders. I got to play sold out shows and summer festivals with a band here at home. And I got to see the release of an EP with my drumming on it that found, among other things, one of its songs featured on a prime time network TV show. All of a sudden, stopping to consider what's actually happened this year, the temptation to feel like nothing's happening begins to recede rather forcefully.

The non-musical side of my life was pretty rich in 2015, as well. I spent a weekend in Kansas City with my wife & aunt taking in the town and my first-ever Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. A few months later, they won the World Series for the first time in 30 years.

Don't miss the wonder in the everyday.
I enjoyed probably the single richest concert-going year of my whole life (which is saying something, believe me). In addition to getting to attend what will most likely be Rush's final concert tour (one of my all-time favorite bands), I took in performances from Garth Brooks, Chris Botti (each for the very first time), as well as Bruce Hornsby, the Zac Brown Band, and Toto.

I discovered a new artist and a new book to file amongst my very favorites. I saw my little sister-in-law get married. I spent my first-ever really enjoyable day in New York City. I finished writing my first book. And I watched as my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and, having caught it early, was able to beat it after surgery but without any need for chemo or radiation treatments.

See, God was good to me in 2015. Really good. But I can still succumb to the pressure from a world consumed with materialistic standards to feel as though I haven't achieved anything and that I'm not where I want to be.

What a joke.

So join me, won't you, in rejecting the notion that success in life can be determined in purely financial terms. Your life is more than the money you make (or don't make) or how many people follow you on social media. Our lives are made up of more things than can be reflected in a bank statement. Combat the temptation to be frustrated because you're not at the very top of the mountain by looking around at the meadows, the rivers, the streams, the fields, and, yes, even the plateaus around you and appreciating the beauty they have to offer. Take joy in the little things like good books, music, food, company, and conversation.

Here's to 2016.
Life is in the moments, people. It's not in the status. We can't create career opportunities for ourselves or control the things that would make us rich, anyway, so stop trying. It's so much wasted effort. Instead, embrace the beauty in the mundane and realize all that can happen in just one year. It's hard not being where you want to be. It's hard working for so long and still not realizing your dreams. But what's harder is allowing life to pass you by because you're too busy focusing on where you wish you were that you're completely missing the wonder of where you are.

So, here's to 2015 and all of the great things it added to my life. And, to being more contented and present in 2016.

And here's to wherever you are: be there and let the rest of it worry about itself.


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