This Stage of Your Life
Have you ever really enjoyed an artist’s recorded music only to see them perform live and be utterly disappointed? Conversely, have you ever witnessed a live performance that was so exciting and moving that you immediately rushed to buy (or illegally download) the song? I’ve definitely been there, and it reminds me that there’s something powerful about live performance on stage.
Thus far in my young life, I’ve stood on various stages, ranging from a tiny patch of carpet in the living room in front of my immediate family to a 20 ft. concert platform in front of a decent-sized crowd (see video below). The memories of all my performances (the good, bad, and ugly) remind me of how much I love the stage, particularly when it comes to rapping. While I appreciate all the necessary behind-the-scenes stuff (e.g. writing, production, recording, mixing, mastering, promo, etc), for me, spitting live in front of an audience is the most terrifying, unnerving, and daunting task. But it is the part I love most! I feel that live performance is the purest and most direct means of sharing with people the things on my heart through the music that I create. However, now more than ever, I have felt a pull to look beyond just “the stage” (a platform for sharing my art) and turn my attention to the idea of “this stage of my life,” an idea that I see on two different levels. While this blog site serves as a platform for music (both mine and hopefully soon that of other artists), two questions will guide the discussion: how do we make the most of the time we’ve been given and how do make a lasting impression on the world in which we live?
1. From the title “This Stage of My Life,” I bet a lot of you automatically made a connection with time. Good job lol. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this particular stage, moment, phase (or whatever you want to call it) of my life. Having recently graduated from college, I find myself at a point where I’m particularly concerned with learning what God has for me to do. The older I get, the more I recognize the truth of what my parents and other older people have been telling me for years – that time flies and that life is so very short. Such ideas aren’t new. The author of Psalm 90 urges for the kind of mindset that looks at the human lifetime as just one miniscule, finite droplet in the vast ocean of eternity (See e.g., verses 1-11). What then does one do when faced with the stark reality of having so little time? Well, the psalmist responds in verse 12 with the earnest prayer, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NKJV). Obviously, nobody actually can tally in advance the sum of the days allotted to him or her. Rather, it seems to me that to “number” one’s days is to be intentionally cognizant of the brevity of our time on earth and to live accordingly. Or, as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:16, being aware of the time period in which he or she lives, a wise person “makes the most of every opportunity” (NIV). Therefore, I am striving to be sensitive to the unique opportunities this particular moment (stage) of my life provides. (sidenote: I think I will want to discuss Psalm 90 in more detail in a later post; there is so much to unpack)
2. In addition to evoking the idea of time, I refer to the “stage” of my life in another, perhaps less obvious sense. In Act II, Scene 7 of As You Like It, Shakespeare famously writes, “All the world’s a stage,/And all the men and women merely players” (Lines 139-140). I’m intrigued by the idea that each of our individual worlds functions as a platform from which we present something to everyone else. I would argue that when I finish a show, leave the performance stage behind and go back to living my everyday life, there still is an audience watching me. You may not be a musician and you might not be famous (lol neither am I) but, like it or not, there is always someone watching our behavior, our attitudes, and how we treat others. Consider this – in the music world, one artist achieves world-renown and thousands of people pack arenas to see him on tour. Another artist may play to only a dozen people in a small café tucked away on a side street. Yet, note that each one has the opportunity to leave an impression on at least someone. Similarly, even if you see yourself as an average, everyday person, and consider yourself introverted, you still have an audience every single day. Your particular audience might be random people on the street, your co-workers, your friends, and your family. How does the way we live impact those we encounter?
These two different ideas of the “stage” of one’s life are not unrelated. Consider, for example, that a performer only has a very brief, set amount of time to try to make a lasting impression on the people watching. A good performer doesn’t take their moment on stage for granted, but seeks to make the most of that opportunity by having as profound an impact on the audience as possible. In lives so finite they are like a vapor (James 4:14), yet still long enough that countless spectators will catch a glimpse whether we realize it or not, what will be the legacy of our performance? Hopefully, we will “[l]et [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Mtt 5:16, NKJV). After all, at the end of the day, while there are many spectators to our performance in this life, God judges its final merit.