Ever have one of those dreams where you wake up smiling?
That happened to me a couple of nights ago. And for some people, maybe it's a lost love. Or a crazy adventure. Or something they would never risk daring in their waking life but they harbor in their heart as a "man, that'd be cool." For me, I usually wake up smiling when I've encountered my God in my dreams.
He amuses me even there.
The thing is this: I don't have not one wish, not one secret desire, not one hunger that this world has any chance of satisfying for me. And I know that. But what I hunger for is so beyond all of this; it's cool when God sees fit to just pop in and encourage me.
(And no, I am not one of those people who thinks every dream means something or that dreams are magical or any of that nonsense. If I ever need proof of that, I just have to look at 99.9% of what I'm dreaming, then wake up thanking God that wasn't happening. There are just those times, though, that I can't help but wake up smiling with a renewed peace and confidence and encouragement.)
Two nights ago, I had one of those drawn-out, cinematic dreams in which I was interviewing for the open position of orchestral timpanist. I know - you've totally had that dream!
It was an outstanding interview in which every potentially terrifying detail was taken care of - cute guy conducting the interview, primo location, invitation to share some of my work and show some of my skills, beautiful set-up of the equipment. I even had the attitude down and remember saying this phrase with an incredible bravado, "But who cares? I'd be union." Because musicians are union. (Insert laughter.)
Then it happened. Walking around the orchestral pit with the interviewer, we passed the timpani. They were just sitting there, and as we walked by, I couldn't help but reach out and tap them. Then bust out a little rhythm with a little groove thrown in for good measure. Eyeing the other drums just a few feet away, then tapping out a little beat on them, too.
And suddenly remembering everyone was watching. Everyone.
It was no longer just me and him; the whole orchestral percussion section had shown up. They were just watching me jam like no one was watching, get into a little groove and then a longer one, and then suddenly remember and look up. In that second, I chose something other than embarrassment. I chose a sheepish, knowing grin.
That's a good go-to, right?
The dream continued from there, encouraging and peaceful and pleasant. Lots of laughter, smiles. This indescribable freedom. This unspeakable Truth resonating in the sound of the drum. Me refusing to give up the rhythm, fired up and ready to continue showing my beat.
So I woke up smiling. Remembering what it was to shoot that sheepish grin, the one that can't hide just how much joy it's holding. The one that goes beyond words and rejects shame and embraces the rhythm because that's how I was made.
It's easy sometimes not to play. It's easy to think there's something wrong with what beats inside of you. It's easy to get caught in this mindset that someone has to approve of not only what you're doing but how you're doing it because we feel like we don't get much of a say in how our world turns.
I don't think we have to apologize for what - or who - we are. I don't think we need to be ashamed that we each march to a different drummer. I don't think it's wrong to stop and groove when something so irresistibly calls to us.
I think the real shame is when we walk right past and miss the moment.
By the way - if you want to know the difference between a show and a sincerity, it is in the grooving. Because it's one thing to play a new beat as God leads you, but it is another thing entirely to commit to dancing to it. It's the difference between talking a holy game and living a holy life. We have to be willing to dance.
It's unlikely that I'm going to become an orchestral timpanist (though I am still looking for one of those "real job" things and I wouldn't be averse to such a position if it was open...and yes, I'm aware that many wouldn't consider even orchestral timpanist to be a real job. But who cares? I'd be union.). But I find myself strengthened for the journey, confident in what God has created in me, energized to take hold of Him in me, content to play my part in His story, and ready to groove.