What is life if you don’t reflect on it? Our lives are made up of a myriad of experiences some big and some small. Many will tell you not to look backwards but only look forward because that is where your future lies. While they are not totally wrong, I find that sort of thinking to be problematic. The things you went through happened for a reason and I believe one of them is so that you can learn from those experiences. Spoken word artist Kirk Nugent once said “the lesson repeats until the lesson is learned” and in my life experience I have found that to be true. Propaganda also said “everything in life you either do it right or do it twice.” God has a way of making our life experiences cyclical, they almost always come back around to test us. Sometimes I believe that God does this to test and see if we really learned our lesson, like many a parent does and it will be painfully clear once the test arrives.
As an artist your past can be a great encouragement to you. I would say that your past should help fuel you to get to a higher plane in your particular craft or lane, especially the very early days of your artistic career. This topic came about because I was roaming through my iTunes and I stumbled across a 2015 interview I did on the radio. One of the hardest things to do as an artist is to go back and listen to yourself or watch yourself. It’s often said that we artists are our harshest critics and that is definitely true. About five minutes into the interview, I recited a poem and I covered my eyes as I listened to it! I was going so fast almost a mile a minute and I sounded so monotone, it was so embarrassing to the artist I am now. I can’t believe I performed like that on a real life FM radio station! However, my wife, like she always does, offered some insight that completely changed my perspective. She told me “this should be encouraging! To know this many people were rocking with you when sounded this bad!” AHA! I may have just had an epiphany.
Dear artist, looking at your past should encourage you! Think about all the people who shared your art or showed some sort of appreciation at the early stages of you career! I’m talking back when you used to screech into the mic, when you would stumble over your words, or whatever was in your past during the first few steps of your artistic endeavors. The fact that people let you into their churches or any sort of venue with your undeveloped talent should bless your socks off. Why? Because, if people were behind you when you were terrible, exactly how do you think they’ll rally around you now that you are excellent at what you do?! That should make you run across the room and throw your tithes in one dollar bills at your pastor. I kid of course, but you already knew that, so what’s the takeaway? The moral of the story is that you have nowhere to go but up! You started at the bottom and people were vibing with you, and now that you care climbing you are getting more support than you realized. Now all of a sudden doors are beginning to open for you. It’s a wonderful feeling to look back and see where God brought you from, to looking at where God has you now, and seeing the glimpse of what’s in store for the future. Look back and learn, while at the same time moving forward. Remember: the life of an artists is not for the faint of heart.2