Dreams & Old Strings

If you have a few minutes to spare, I’d love to share a story with you, a personal story. But be warned, not only does it involve the topic of dreams, but it also has a heaping dose of hope. I know, I know, dreams and hope. It sounds like the title to a Lifetime movie about a girl named Hope who dreams about overcoming the fact that she’s in a Lifetime movie. But this is an important story for me to share, and it won’t take very long to tell.

Are you still here?

Cool. Allow me to start.

And The Oscar Goes To…

When I was a child, I didn’t dream of becoming a famous singer… I did dream about becoming a famous filmmaker and writer, and practiced my Oscar speech a few dozen times before I hit my teens, but surprisingly, music was something that came about naturally and without many expectations. It was simply something I really liked doing.

Fast forward a decade and some change, and I’m a ridiculously famous singer and filmmaker who has shelves full of Oscars, Grammys and the MTV award for Best Kiss (the statue resides at Gal Gadot’s house).

Yeah, that’s obviously excrement of the bull-variety. But hey, what happened to my dreams? Where’s my Oscar?

Well, as most of you know, I ended up becoming a full-time musician and songwriter. A lot of people tell me I’m “living the dream”, but it sometimes feels more like pouring my creativity, passion and heart into something that might not be holding up its end of the deal. In fact, a few weeks ago, I woke up depressed, with the distinct feeling that I didn’t know what to do with my life, even though I have been given a ridiculous amount of purpose. And it’s not like I woke up and thought “Hey, I’m done being a musician,” – especially since I had a gig later that day – but I didn’t have any drive to do anything. I know I’m not the only one who has gone through days, weeks, and even longer, feeling like this, but we often don’t admit it. Wouldn’t want to seem weak, perhaps.

What lifts my heavy on days like that? The days where the dream feels like an actual dream, instead of this career I have been blessed with, how do a realign myself? I find that the more I focus on myself in those times, the harder it is for me to appreciate where I’m at. And on that day specifically, I kept thinking about how hard my gig was going to be with me feeling depressed. I thought about how I would have to fake being interested and happy, that way I could properly entertain the people who came out to hear live music, and try my best not to give them ring side seats to a therapy session.

String Theory

So there I was, at my show.

I had finished up my second set, and the music was bringing me to a place slightly elevated above depression; I put on the right face and said the right things, but under the surface I knew it was precarious. Not wanting to surrender myself to anything, I was simply affecting a quick fix by “turning on” for the crowd. I was not unlike the strings on my guitar, who sometimes let me know they need to be changed by simply breaking. But what broke me?

Enter: Brinnley.

When I was walking back into the venue, about to start my second set, a young girl who looked to be about nine-years old approached me, handing me a sheet of ruled paper and said “This is for you,” and then quickly ran away. The sheet was folded, and on the front it said “from: Brinnley” and had a smiley face and some music notes drawn on it. It didn’t seem like a song or birthday request, which is usually what’s written on folded up papers. So I unfolded the paper, and after taking it all in, the guitar string that needed to break, finally did.

The top of the paper said “To: an amazing singer From: Brinnley”, reaffirming who it was from. She had drawn a guitar in the center, a guitar that looked uncomfortable to play, but that was unmistakably a six-string acoustic, a bit like my Martin. And surrounding the guitar were four word bubbles, making it seems as if the guitar was talking, even though it was undoubtedly just what this little girl wanted to say. The words contained in the bubbles said “I can’t wait to hear your CD” – “your singing is beautiful” – “dream big” and “follow your dreams”

Misty eyed, I looked over the paper a few times, really letting it sink in. This little girl saw what I was doing, and recognized what a dream it is. Even through life’s highs and lows, doing what you love, what you’re passionate about, is a dream. And if me being on that stage and singing did anything to inspire Brinnley to follow her own dreams… if it did anything to embolden her to be herself and to chase her passions, then that’s a better dream than I could possibly dream up for myself. And who knows, maybe someday she’ll see this and know that she helped push me into a place of perspective that was needed, reminding me that I need to step outside of myself sometimes, and simply enjoy the fact that I get to pour my heart out for a living.

Encouragement from Brinnley.

Isaiah 54: 13

Tell me your dreams we’ll make them new
‘Cause I dream tooBruce Robison

Dreams don’t have to be the same starry eyed ambitions from when we were children, but it’s a great place to start. Personally, I know that one of my dreams is to be a Father who can raise a family of God loving (or good vibe loving, for my non-believer friends) dreamers, who will live out their passions and desires through life’s highs and lows.

Hey, maybe it’s time to start practicing my Oscar speech again…

Keep dreaming, friends,
– CT

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