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Pre Photo Shoot Jitters

May 11, 2009

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I’m sitting in the Tulsa, OK airport as I write this, grateful for a blessed couple of days in Joplin, MO with our new friend Breann, a gracious host who was responsible for bringing us here this week.  She generously invited Taya to come, too – paying for her flight – and after several weeks of us being apart it was nice to have Taya with me on this trip.  And now we’re headed home for some rest.

After the breakneck pace of 2008 and the first part of 2009, I’m staying close to home for a few weeks.  Last night’s concert felt like crossing the finish line of a marathon.  Now it’s time to catch up on some family time… and house projects.  

But before I look ahead to next week, I’m going to wrap up my recap with the photo shoot for the new record that we scheduled for the end of GMA week.

It was Thursday night before the Friday shoot, and Steve had hired a stylist to go purchase clothes for the shoot and the clothes were at his house for me to try on.  Steve was at his son’s play that night, but I found the clothes on the bed of the spare room.  I looked through them and started to panic a bit…  There wasn’t much there and even less that I liked, so I took matters into my own hands and drove back to Nashville to Urban Outfitters to buy some clothes myself to supplement what was there.  Just to be safe. 

Imagine how foolish I felt then when I got back to Steve’s house and found that the entire closet was filled with clothes that I hadn’t seen – I’d only seen the few pieces that didn’t fit in the closet and were laid on the bed.  

I mostly felt foolish for how it reminded me yet again of how anxious I can be.  I’ve tried so hard to trust and work collaboratively and be a team player throughout this project, but at the end of the day I’m afraid I can be a quivering, fearful, little mess of ambition, insecurity, pride, and desire – though more often than not what I desire most is to be at peace and trust God and his goodness to me through those He’s put in my life.

But what if I hate the way the photo shoot represents me?  What will people think if I look “too cool” or too timid or bland or pretentious or etc. etc…  For that matter, what will they think of the record?  Is it too this?  Is it too that?  Ugh… please pray for the people who have to work with me and deal with my tortured psyche.  I try to play it cool and be easy to work with, but I tend to freak out over things like the tone of a snare drum, afraid that it will ruin everything…

It’s ridiculous I know, but I feel like I’m walking a hire wire and always trying to keep that perfect balance of artistry and accessibility.  My vision of that balance feels so crucial to me, and losing it terrifies me. I guess my worst fear is that people on either side of the balance will dismiss me and write me off if they perceive I’ve leaned too far to one side or the other.

I wonder if what I like to call artistic and commercial balance (like where I try to write songs that will work for the market and for radio, but then try to balance that against writing songs that are more artistic) may in part be an attempt to hedge my bets.  I would like for my record to do well in the marketplace – I would like that for Centricity, for my family, for the opportunities it might afford my ministry, and for a hundred other noble reasons – but I’m also fearful of inviting the criticisms of my artist friends and fans who I’m always afraid will judge me as selling out.

When I pursue excellence and balance to the glory of God as my worship, it’s pure and right, but it can quickly become a mockery of itself when I’m motivated by what other’s think of me and my fear of being judged. Of course I’m so fearful of critical voices because I recognize the voice of criticism in myself.  I can be very ungenerous and quick to judge and critique others for selling out to commercial concerns, for perpetuating mediocrity, for being dull and shallow.  I’d rather not be on the receiving end of the kind of tongue lashing I deal out to others.

Compromise is such a subjective word anyway (and one we often use to bolster our own sense of self-righteousness), and for all the temptations of success and fame, they may not be as alluring as the temptation to play the artistic martyr who dies on the hill of his ideals and integrity, a tragic hero beloved by his small but devoted following.  Of course, both of these are caricatures of either end of the spectrum.  

And so I try to meet somewhere in the middle, and with the purest of motivations, wanting to make music that connects with the most number of people, but doing so without feeling whorish about it.  I hope it’s a noble pursuit, but sometimes when I feel fear rise up in me over it all (like when I worry about something so trivial as not having the right clothes for a photo shoot), I worry that I may be motivated too much by the fear of what people on either side of that fence might think of me, people pleaser that I am.

So more often than not I’m driven to maintain this dichotomy of who I am, of who I’d like to be, and with the narrowest margin of error – so narrow in fact that sometimes I’m tempted to fear that the wrong color shirt in a photo might tip the scale.   Does this make sense to anyone else?  Is anyone else tortured like this?  

When I calm down, the fear subsides and I usually come to my senses, thank God. 

Is this too pathetic a revelation of my own insecurities?  If so, disregard all of this – I was just kidding ;-).

But if it’s less pathetic than it is familiar, I thought I’d let you in on a little of my headspace in case you might feel like this sometimes.  I wouldn’t want you to feel like you’re all alone…

Either way, it’s a good thing I kept the receipt from Urban Outfitters.

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