Thursday, April 7, 2011

If I Wanted To (Repost)

So I found the following post on an old blog, and since it reminded me of how things can change but still essentially stay the same, I'm sharing it here as well. I originally wrote it about six years ago, in January of 2005. I didn't know it, but I was to meet my husband in about three months. And we got married in March of 2006. God is good.

(By the way, I am now completely convinced that life is about the journey rather than the destination. But we would still do well to be wise and courageous.)


It started as a vow in some old tree house
You swore you'd never be your fathers when you aged
But you're all sitting at this bar wondering who you are
And you're becoming those at whom you once were so enraged

And a prison bar don't have to be too strong you know
It's how many there are side by side that keep you in the cell
The camera dollies out from where you're lying in your bunk
But the camera's in the prison yard as well

If you wanted to, if you wanted to
If you wanted to, you tell yourself
You could have - Is it true?
Did you want to?

-From "If I Wanted To" by Don Chaffer

The practical end of Waterdeep has been cause for a fair amount of sadness and bewilderment for me. What do you do when your favorite band quits making new music? Of course there will be solo projects, which I know will be amazing. But when I listen to the wonderful creation that is Live at the New Earth, it is bittersweet to realize there will never be another chance to witness their collaboration.

But I won't go on and on about that.

Just to was Don Chaffer and Lori Chaffer's writing that has influenced me just as much - no, more than any other artist to date - to write the way I do. To be brave enough to write about real life, with all of its jagged edges and misplaced puzzle pieces, is something I strive for in every song.

Am I being honest?

This seems like a pretty basic thing at first. It seems like lying would be the thing you'd have to do on purpose. But how many decisions have I, or any of us, made from selfish motives we didn't fully realize until afterwards? Surely the heart is deceitful above all things.

Am I being honest? Are these words that I'm writing actually what I believe, or did I select them because it's what is expected of me or because I read them somewhere or because they rhyme? Is this the point I really, down to the bottom of my soul, want to make?

Because some days are great days. Clear and simple and pure...and the shimmering, crystalline happiness that is produced is really true to form. And other days are not so great, full of clouds and crowds and bad smells. And maybe even catastrophe. On these days I feel like I'm clinging like a wet spider to the Rock while the tormented sea rages around and over and onto me. I am not overcome, but I am battered, and that's what I write.

I'm reading Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer right now. He writes about climbing Mt. Everest with an expedition of about 15 people. Right after he descended from the Summit (which took him over a month to reach, by the way), the mountain was struck by a terrible blizzard. Several of his teammates were caught totally off-guard and a few of them even died. He originally joined the expedition to write an article for Outside magazine, but after the tragedy he wrote the book as well as a sort of self-induced therapy. So, I recommend. But that's enough background.

Last night I read about when he finally reached the Summit and was standing quite literally on the top of the world. Over 29,000 feet above sea level. He said that he had been climbing for such a long time that when he crested the final incline and saw nowhere else to climb, he was confused and disoriented. It was only after a couple moments that it sank in that he had in fact reached the highest point on the planet. And then, get this -- his very next thought was, "I'm halfway through." Some of his teammates spent over an hour at the top, snapping pictures and congratulating each other and crying. And using valuable oxygen and physical energy. One lady even required a sherpa to haul a satellite fax machine to the top so she could send faxes to her loved ones...! Krakauer sat there for five minutes, erected a flag his wife had sewn for him, and then started climbing back down.

When I read that, at first I was like, Come on, guy, give yourself a freaking break. Enjoy the moment for once. But then I realized that the persistence and realism that had to that point aided his successful ascent was also the stuff that got him back down the mountain in one piece. As a skilled climber, he knew this...and he knew that the real cause for celebration would be to return home to his wife and children alive and healthy.

I think I need more of that climber's instinct. I need to keep my eyes on the goal - the real goal - at all times, and anything that doesn't assist me in reaching that goal...well, like a long-time friend says, "Sorry 'bout cha!"

I know my ultimate goal -- eternity with my Lord, and the hope of hearing with these ears His sweet voice saying, "Well done. Have some wine!" Or something related to that. It's the more specific goals that allude me. It's like, I know what I should be doing, but sometimes I don't know what I should be doing.

Or maybe I do know, on some level, my specific goal. I just can't admit it. A good friend (and the best guitarist I've ever had occasion to play with, actually) confessed to me once that he was more afraid of success than he was of failure. Even now his words challenge me. Because what if I do go for it, and experience some success, and then I blow it? The greater the success, the greater the potential failure.

A misstep on Everest is so different from a misstep on Pinnacle.

But no climber can climb Everest their first time out.

Several of my recent posts have discussed a certain restlessness I've felt recently. At first I thought it had to do with the holidays, or with a tendency to lose focus. But I am now willing to say that what I'm experiencing is more than seasonal discontent. It's lasted too long and it is accompanied by such compelling anticipation. I am now believing that there is a new, higher mountain for me to conquer. May I prove to be a wise climber, courageous and tenacious.

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