Steve Jobs died.
And a few days after that, I wept as I drove home from Tennessee.
Because of Steve Jobs? Not exactly…but sort of.
I’d just started down the long gravel drive, my parents waving in the rearview mirror, shouting their love…and suddenly all these years of being alive here together were also disappearing in the rearview mirror, and I faced ahead of me the likelihood of traveling on without them one day.
As she’d leaned into the truck for a last hug, Mom had said: Sometimes I wish you were still my little girl.
And as often happens, I stayed quiet while my heart said: Me, too.
I am not actually a worrier or a dweller on death and mortality. I do spy heaven on the horizon. But we all know time moves too quickly when you’re having fun, too slowly when you’re waiting.
My parents will turn 65 soon, and as amazing and energetic as they continue to be, they aren’t exactly the same as they were at 42. And 42 is the age they have been in my mind for the last 23 years.
Earlier in the week, I’d picked up a magazine from the big farm table in their kitchen and read this quote from Steve Jobs: “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
And I thought: Maybe he's right.
I’d spent several days writing, meeting, and recording in Nashville. When I’m there, I’m both invigorated by the city’s creative energy and also a bit intimidated and out of place with the industry side. I told Nicole: When I’m writing from home, it’s like a hot tub. Dealing with business out here feels like climbing out of the tub and into a pool of sharks.
Sometimes, I just want to pull away...keep myself and my work in safer places where I don't risk rejection. Where I don't have to deal with fear and insecurity.
But I read that quote in my parents’ home, and I gave myself a little talking-to that went something like this:
Okay, listen, you. You're going to die.
You may have a few brief years before your parents stop feeling strong enough to get on the trampoline. A few quick years to be brave and share the music that grows in your soul. A few fleeting years before your little ones grow wings and fly.
A few years left. At best.
So, seriously. SERIOUSLY. What exactly do you have to lose?
Do you really want to spend even one day whining or holding back because someone might not approve? Certainly, since the dawn of time humans have faced far bigger hurdles, greater resistance.
Stop looking for permission. Love your Maker. Love people. Make the Greatest.Work.You.Can make...in Him and for Him.
What do we have to lose?
Even as I ask it, I know the answer. For me, what I have to lose is your esteem. I have been a life-long approval junkie, now happily on the mend, but not wholly rid of it.
I write songs to communicate with other humans, but I write also to imbed more deeply in my own soul the truths I know I'm in need of.
I wrote this for Allison but also, as it turned out, for me:
"There's no way to earn what you've already got...nothing to lose when you're loved from the start..."
I have all that I need. I really do. And there's nothing I can do to make Him love me more, nothing to make Him love me less. If you know God through His son, this is true for you, too.
Let's boldly love and boldly make,
and let's repent of the moments lost to self-pity/self-consciousness/self-preservation,
because tomorrow we may die and all we'll have is what we've given away. (a truth found in a long ago Ann Voskamp post)
Thank you, Steve Jobs, for the reminder.
At the time of this original post, I mentioned how Emily P. Freeman's book, Grace for the Good Girl had spoken to me. It's awesome. Now, in real time 2013, Emily has a brand new book out called A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. I had the privilege of reading it in advance, and can heartily recommend it to you struggling creatives (You know who you are)!
Another book, a classic, on my short list for artists is Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.