Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Long, Dark Winter (Break)

It's been a long winter break from blogging. Like someone in the Polar Bear club, I'll be jumping right back into the icy waters of the interwebs. Here's a post tossed to the winds of the new year:

There is definitely more perspective as you age, but it depends what you do with that perspective. I've meet older folks (retirement age and up) who either derive happiness or bitterness from that introspection. My Christmas times for the last decade have been great times to delve into that perspective. Since we leave where we live, and visit family in the places we grew up, we get to be in that world, but not of it. And, it allows us to learn.

Don't get me wrong. We miss our family. When we're down, feeling alone, or longing for some commonality, it would be nice to have some family close by. Ministry can cause all of those feelings and yearnings. It can be insular, and it can be hard for people in your congregation to understand, specifically those who have family close by. But it also removes you in a good way. It allows you to be emotionally attached to your home town, the churches you've served, and the one you're currently at. It almost lets you see several different worlds at the same time, especially if you maintain contact with people from all of those places you've been.

I'd almost call it a fringe benefit.

Because, when I get wrapped up in my little corner of the world, I can experience other little corners and gain perspective on what's important where I am now.

Rick Wright, keyboardist for Pink Floyd, died last year from cancer. Rick was a quiet, unassuming presence, singing harmony and the occasional lead vocal from behind a wall of equipment when Floyd played live. The last time they did that was a few years ago at Live 8, playing a four song set. Before that, it was the 1994 Division Bell tour. I saw that tour in Detroit.

The other two main members of Floyd at the time, David Gilmour and Nick Mason had specific stage presence. Gilmour, the cool elder statesman/fluid guitar player, and Mason, the concentrated backbone/solid drummer. I noticed Rick didn't have any kind of rock and roll personna that you could derive or easily label. He just played. That could be because all the ego was stuffed out of him.

Imagine being in a band for fifteen years, spending a ton of time with three other guys. The leader, at least in your mind, becomes increasingly oppressive and controlling. At the end of the fifteen years, you make a record with your band, only you're not really in the band any more. You played on the record, but on the subsequent tour, you're side man, a session player, removed from the creative and business aspects of this entity that you have spent your adult life serving. Your erratic behavior, and a lack of grace for that behavior, has caused the chasm.

Although, being removed had it privledges: Rick was the only band member to profit from that tour, the 1980-1981 tour for "The Wall". Since he was in the partnership of Pink Floyd, he was a paid player, and didn't have to bear the brunt of debt that was created by the massive tour. But, I digress...

If you have never been in a band, you might miss the tragedy here. It's like someone taking away your rightful place, your artistic voice, and your claim to letting it speak. From what I've read about Pink Floyd, it was part of what had crushed Rick's spirit, along with the usual rock star drugs and lifestyle.

And then the band reforms without the leader, without the guy who had really pushed you out. According to Gilmour, it took a while for Rick to regain confidence when they reformed. But he did. And, in the wake of it all, seemed to gain a perspective that allowed him the confidence to continue.

I think people in bands do side projects because they get perspective. They see what it's like to inhibit someone else's world, and then take what they've learned back to their world. I wonder how our lives would be different if we all could take the side project route, instead of the Rick Wright route (which is a hard to say five times fast!). If we could inhabit a different space, where the expectations are different, where the rules aren't so familiar, I think we might be spared from going through problems. If we made a point to get out of our own head space from time to time, maybe conflict would be reduced. Maybe our empathy would increase. Maybe all that stuff that seems like a big deal would be defanged. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

So, yeah, perspective. Gotta get me some that!