As George Carlin said "life is about our stuff"..
Funny how we spend "X" years filling boxes of stuff and buying more boxes for stuff, and then there is that time where we all will say, "enough".
From that day on you begin to see yours and everyone else's boxes and stuff a bit differently.
The pursuit of stuff is addicting, exhilarating, fulfilling and challenging. Like a good drug, you think you can never get enough and like a drug you'll never admit it and see the depths of that pursuit in yourself, only in others.
When in your sweet spot giftings, with the winds at your back, it seems you can do no wrong. It seems un-seemingly unfair. Yet when the wind is in your face and your only looking uphill with bad equipment, incorrect clothing and no funds, you will find out how bad you really want "it". Whatever that "it" is for you, you just seem to know in your gut what you're willing to do to get "it". And in that, the stuff begins to pile up and you begin to get more boxes to fill your castles and fulfill your dreams.
Years ago on a high end golf course lined with million dollar homes, I had a vision while walking a fairway. I saw all the owners in the back yards lying on the grass, ball and chained to the back of the houses screaming silently for help to get away from it all. Never forgot that. Mind you if I had one of those homes paid for and it was within my means to own and maintain and leave it for others some day, I'd not see it as a ball and chain, but as you know in the world we live in, most upper middle class are living way beyond their means. If bankruptcy doesn't get us to slow down and face the "Carlin Stuff Factor", then time usually will.
You've heard me say over the years "what's enough"?
I think it's different for everyone and I've certainly changed my tune about it over the last 40 years.
In my 50's now as I ponder the last third of life, so many things begin to surface that never did in my 30's and 40's. A big one is "time". Another is "health". And a third is "can I anymore, and is it worth the cost".
When my dad retired, he drove handicapped kids in a bus for nearly another 20 years, and I think in many ways those were some of the best years of his life. We certainly had more time to golf together.
So many things he could have done with his artistic gifts, but they all would have required that mix of exceptional drive, determination, willingness to sacrifice time for others, and risk of losing it all and making nothing again with his gifts. Above is a pastel he did in 1950 that I found full of mold in a hidden closet after his death. I had always wanted him to paint his last 20 years and he just never wanted to. Why? The cost of giving of yourself... for little return?
Come to think of it my father in law who was a gifted artist did the exact same thing as my dad, becoming a driver for hotels and canyon tours and auto parts stores until his death.
Why did they give up on their dreams and gifts. Did they give up, or did they just realize that the generations to follow were hungrier and willing to work for half their wages with glee. I think this really was it. They looked at it all and said, it's not worth the fight anymore. My kids make twice as much as I ever did, are less thankfull for it and waste so much. So, Let's dump stuff, dump boxes and find a way to simplify life, de-stress and enjoy the rest of this. Hmmm.
Since the average life span of a man 100 years ago was not much over 45, I don't think they ever got to the point to really ask these questions about, work, worth, mid life crisis, aging libido, mobility, depression and the 2nd half of life.. They were dead before they faced these issues.
In Biblical history, there were of course men living many hundreds of years. That makes me want to read much more about their later years than I have to date. We certainly know King Davids son from Bathsheba " Solomon" , was so gifted and yet made dubious choices in the later years of his life.
Like most, I have a few friends dying pretty fast of cancers these days. One I saw and prayed for in a coma yesterday. I've know him since I was seven. His life had been very simple with very little attachements to anything. Again it made me think of time. Maybe this change about drive and focus happens when you realize you are really on a time clock. When you see a train go by and truly say to yourself, " take a moment and watch this, it could be the last train you ever see". You hug more, you love more, you put up with less and speak your mind more.
And I keep seeing old men and women on park benches sitting silent as they watch the world go buy. I used to feel sad for them. I now think they might be enjoying life more than most of us.
It also seems in life that compromise becomes harder for your core issues, and easier for the little things.
You begin to see those with life handicaps, who are happy and thriving, and it's more inspiring than ever.
You see those talented and wasting away their gifts in their prime, and it hurts more than ever.
You view a stress less sunrise and sunset and think to yourself "Yes God, is this what the garden was like?" Stress less beauty, no pressure or quotas, work with your hands, eat what you can, love without question , walk slowly and be thankful?"
I think so.
I'll be blogging more honest thoughts about faith and work and the future of creatives in the near future as I have been facing these questions head on the last year. God remains ever faithful. Every breath, Every smell, Every feeling good or bad. Every heartbeat belongs to Him and he so lovingly lets us use them for our own purposes.
What is really worth it any more? What is worth putting your life and effort into, that will make a difference, while allowing you to be yourself without selling out to and for others personal selfish gains?
When you're in school and raising children, those choices are made for you most of the time, you just shut up and do it, and half the time have no idea who's zooming you, or you don't care you just want the check.
As you age, your conscious just stops allowing you to make those choices any longer.
And so, I'm guessing that explains my father and father in law. And explains all the golf rangers in their 60's and 70s on golf courses or working in sportingoods and hardware stores around the world with a smile each day that says "God I wish I'd done this 25 years earlier".
So if you soon see me in a ranger cart, or in a sporting goods shop or hear of me living in a small log cabin in the mountains, well, I'm guessing I answered these questions to my own satisfaction.
On the other hand if you see me doing 7 gigs a week, recording more records, starting 3 more companies or trying to help 5 more churches somewhere with worship issues, well, I guess I'm still fighting to keep my boxes and stuff and feel the need to fight like i'm 20. You see the Lord gives the opportunity to get and gives the opportunities to lose. Either way, it is our choice, and regardless of the outcomes, His name should remain blessed on our lips.