Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
Recently Marty and I finally saw “Yesterday,” the movie about a singer/songwriter who is one of the only three people left on the planet who remembers the Beatles. Once he realizes that not even Google has any recollection of the musical geniuses, he began to pass off their songs as his own.
In one scene, he is sitting at the piano, wanting to share “his new song,” “Let It Be,” with his parents. He starts to play it but is interrupted when they tell him to start again, they weren’t quite paying attention. Then there are other interruptions – a cell phone call, someone dropping by, conversations while he’s trying to sing, until finally he “loses it.” The others in the room look stunned. What is he so upset about?
While Marty may have found that scene amusing, and the songwriter a little neurotic, anyone who has written music, poetry, or stories can relate to the situation and will want to yell at the rude people along with the young man. But what we (writers) have to realize is that the distracted people have no clue why their undivided attention is so important to us at that moment.
Songwriters, poets, storytellers – anyone who puts their thoughts and feelings into words – do it because we are passionate about something. We have a message that we long to share with the world, and if the world (or at least our world) shows little or no interest, it wounds us. When those people are more interested in other things at the moment, as hard as we try not to take it personally, their inattention causes us to question our creation.
If you know a writer, and that writer one days tells you, “I wrote a new song [or poem or story] today,” the proper response is not to say “How nice” and change the subject to the weather or your latest project. I can’t explain why writers are such impatient people, but the moment we finish “giving birth,” we want to show our “baby” to someone, now.
If the writer asks, “Would you like to hear it? Or would, you like to read it?” the right response is not “Maybe later,” or “Not right now,” or “… How long is it?” Granted, you may be busy, but if the writer is someone you care about at all, try to take the time. Who knows? You may have the privilege of being the first to hear or read a masterpiece. (If the person is a random stranger on the street, feel free to say, “Sorry, I’ve got to be somewhere. Good luck.”)
I’ve had the experience of trying to share my latest, or even someone else’s that I’ve just learned and think is awesome, and heard the mumble of conversations that caused me to cut the performance short.
Then there was Karen.
Karen and I were acquaintances whose children played together. I’m not sure where our kids were that day, or why she was in my home, but I do remember having just finished writing what I considered (and still consider) one of my best songs. I had been inspired while on a plane, staring down at the city and realizing that God knew every one of the people who lived there. I had been gripped with an emotion that was unexpected – His deep longing for each of them to know His love. The last line had eluded me until that day. It had come as I was reading Isaiah, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was aching to share the song with someone, and Karen showed up …
We were standing by the piano, and I asked if she’d like to hear my latest song, and (Bless her!) she said “Yes!” with enthusiasm. I sat down to play it, expecting at any moment to be interrupted by our children, or something she just thought of to tell me or ask me, or any number of other things. But she sat in an armchair and listened to the whole song without saying a word.
When the song was over, there was a brief silence. Then quietly Karen stood up, walked over, and hugged me.
“That’s beautiful,” she whispered. She had tears in her eyes, and I knew she had caught the meaning of the song and that she shared my passion for what it was saying.
So … would you like to read the lyrics? (If you have more important things to do, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. )
I Wonder Who Will Staring out the window at the city far below, I see endless rows of buildings full of people I don’t know. Though their malls and mills and mansions look like pebbles on the sand, My Father knows each one of them; He holds them in His hand.
But I wonder, which ones know Him and which ones never will? Which homes ring with laugher, and which ones are cold and still? And I wonder, who is hungry, and which ones have their fill? If we don’t share the Bread of Life with them, I wonder, then who will?
The Lord knows me inside and out, every hair that’s on my head, And He knows the things I’ve done and felt, every word I’ve ever said. And He knows the days ordained for me that He wrote down long before, And it amazes me that in that way, He knows millions more!
But I wonder who is crying, and which ones need a friend And where they’ll spend eternity when their lives are at an end … And I wonder, in a world of darkness, who will help them see? Lord …. Here am I … Send me.
(Ann Aschauer, copyright 1989)