There is a song inside of you. An anthem in your chest. Your heart is keeping time with the great symphony of time and space.
Music is a metaphor for the human story here on the planet. Your song is important, needed, and no one else can sing it for you.
I was invited to give a TEDx Talk on the subject of “wonder” a few days back. I sang a few tunes and talked about the struggle to sing a beautiful melody with my life.
There is a melody inside of you, an anthem buried in your chest.
Your heart keeps time, your thoughts and your words sing out in a cadence and a rhythm that is yours alone.
Every day this song of yours is burning comes to life against the backdrop of the great symphony of time.
The stars, the moon, the sun, the rising and the falling of the tide, the rhythm of the seasons keeping time, and then the human chorus chimes in with emails, and traffic, and coffee shops.
This is the context where your melody takes place.
And yet, you are unique. You were born to sing a song with your life that no one else can sing.
When you were a kid, this melody of yours was easy to sing. It wasn’t perfect, but it came so natural, so free.
And now, maybe it’s harder to find. I know firsthand – the years add layers of pain, fear, doubt, shame and insecurity.
You read the headlines: murder, war, divorce, hatred, and death and you wonder:
How can this fragile little melody ever make a dent?
Late at night you ask yourself, Does my song matter?
I’ve been there. those questions are real.
I’ve spent many nights alone, looking up at the moon, asking the sky:
“Does my time here on the planet have a purpose?”
And you breathe and you close your eyes and listen –
You hear the ocean’s roar.
You hear the wind blowing through the trees.
And maybe you hear the contagious, unbridled joy of your daughters laughter.
And it’s almost as if the composer of time and space has answered back in wordless beauty:
your song matters.
There is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent –
Your melody is needed – the good, the bad, the ugly, the shameful, the painful… all of it.
Don’t be afraid. You walk through the tension.
Be brave and begin to sing the truth – one note at a time.
so how do you live a good song? How do you make it count?
Breathe, stretch, meditate, pray.
This is your instrument! Get a good night sleep.
When you tune, you learn to know your instrument. You realize what is yours to change and what is outside of your control.
What does the song need? What do my friends need? My family, my community?
My favorite musicians are the ones who play exactly what’s needed – nothing more, nothing less.
That takes an incredible listener.
Listen to BB king – he could play three notes that say more than most guitars players who have ever lived.
I spent most of Jr. High trying to be BB king. And it’s good to learn from the masters. We learn best by imitation. But imitation has limitations, and the biggest thing that BB King taught me was that I am not BB King. BE YOURSELF.
You’ll never be as smooth as BB. You’ll never be as cool as Keith. But with a lifetime of practice, you’ll start to sound like you.
To be yourself will take a lifetime of practice. Humans aren’t like the other species here on the planet. Being human takes practice.
You don’t have to teach a fish to swim or a horse to run. But it takes us years to learn to walk and talk.
A doctor practices medicine. A monk practices his faith. You practice being you.
It’s going to take time.
And you will fail along the way. You will break strings, you will hit the wrong note, you will be frustrated, and you will want to quit.
Congratulations: you’re human!
Forgive yourself. Forgive those around you – believe it or not, they’re human too.
I used to hate playing live music – I could get it perfect on the record, but live was the unknown.
I don’t know if you heard the mistake I made in that last song – the mistakes never stop!
The beauty of music and life is time travel – you enter the song a younger soul than when you exit. And even after the broken string the symphony of life is ever unfolding around you.
Don’t let the wrong notes in the past ruin the present and the future – the song is still unfolding.
(tension and release)
Music is built by tension and release. Dissonance and resolve.
Humanity is stretched tight between the womb and the grave, between control and chaos, between conflict and resolve.
Like a guitar string, we are stretched tight, pulled in two places at once.
And when you’re in a difficult season you want to run towards one end or the other. To cut the chord.
And yet, to cut the string is death. The tension is where the beauty happens.
The melody of our lives is when we dance on these strings of tension.
Be brave, your melody is worth it. Be courageous, your melody is needed.
I dare you.
I dare you to live out your purpose.
That the melody within you would soar above the fear, above the crowd, above the past, above the pain,
and that the song that you were born to sing would come to life.
The composer of time and space has given you a part to play in the great symphony of time.
This is your life, this is your opus. I dare you to move.