Many years ago, I was given some valuable advice for my life as a songwriter - celebrate everything. Every song written, every hold, every cut, every good thing that happens all along the way. Taking even just a moment to pause and give some thought to the wonder of anything positive happening in your career is so worth it. There are so many discouraging things that can happen in the music business, so if you want to have any chance of maintaining some sanity, and more importantly, experiencing any joy in the journey, the choice to celebrate the good stuff is important.
However, there is something I have found to be of greater importance than celebrating the good stuff. It can be much tougher at times, but over the years, I have discovered the more I do this one thing, the more settled I feel about my writing life. It's the message I have preached to my own kids over and over as they have grown up, and yet I still have to challenge myself with on a regular basis. So what is it?
For me, if there is an antidote for all of the negative things I've faced as a songwriter, celebrating others would be it. The intentional act of taking my eyes off my own stuff and choosing to celebrate someone else does wonders. The jealously over other writers' success becomes petty. The frustration over missed opportunities wanes a bit. The anger over the injustices and political crap starts to fade. And somehow, by celebrating the good stuff in another creative person's life, I begin to have peace about living my own story.
As I sit writing this blog, I am very aware that several states away, a group of songwriters is gathered at a retreat for a few days to write songs, enjoy the company of other writers, and laugh their butts off. I have attended this retreat many times but it just wasn't in the cards this year so I'm home. Part of me sure wishes I was there because I love those people and the thought of doing what I love for three days straight in that setting would be incredible. But that's not my story for this particular week. My story this week is subbing and soccer games and doing some research for a new project and writing on my own and all of that is so okay with me.
There have been seasons when I would be sitting here wallowing in self-pity, with unhealthy emotions boiling up and causing my blood pressure to rise. But not today. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle with jealousy, frustration, and anger at times. More times than I care to admit. But hopefully age and experience has given me a little perspective. And perspective gives me the opportunity to choose differently.
So today I choose to celebrate the fact that a bunch of amazing people are sitting in little rooms in a church in Georgia, sharing ideas, drawing out of deep creative wells, and doing the hard work of crafting songs they hope will be unleashed into the world in one way or another. And countless people will be blessed and encouraged and challenged by the work they do. That seems worth celebrating to me.