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Taking the Road Less Travelled

Sunday, October 03, 2010

My favourite Looney Tunes sketches were the ones that had Bugs Bunny. I thought it was hilarious how he would tunnel just under the surface of the ground, and then pop his head up in the foreground, look around, pull a map out of nowhere, scratch his head and mutter, "I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque!"

Poor Bugs. He never ended up where he wanted to be, but he had plenty of adventures wherever he went.

I've been to Albuquerque, New Mexico, actually. Well, "driven through" would be the more appropriate term. I didn't have any desire to make a left turn, as I was coming from Arkansas and heading to California, and a left turn would have had me heading for the Mexican border.

However, figuratively, I have been to Albuquerque many times. There is a left turn that has my name on it, but which I have not taken for many years. It is a dream that started in my second year of college, a project that has been in stasis for six of the eleven years since its conception. For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, it is my musical.

My friend Candace and I started writing a musical a long, long time ago. It has gone in fits and spurts. The last time I put a concerted effort into it was 2003, when I managed to complete most of the rough draft of the score while I was pregnant with my second son. The birth of said son brought the project to a grinding halt, where it has remained, gathering dust, ever since.

Not that I haven't wanted to rev up the engine again since then. It just never seemed like the right time, a fact I lamented on this blog not that long ago. And as the years went by, it got easier to ignore the call of that left turn at Albuquerque--after all, it's not like I didn't like the direction I was going. I was having lots of adventures.And, unlike Bugs, I had actually not taken the left turn on purpose. The Interstate was where I knew I needed to be.

What I did not write in that post is how many times I have wept before God about the seeming lack of progress in my music career. This was several years ago, mind you, but it took me a long time to accept the answer of "not yet" whenever I would start to yearn for something beyond diapers and toddler-speak, and the frustration of never having enough money to invest into my musical goals. However, for years now, I have had it in my mind that "when my kids are all in school I will finish the musical." With our initial plan of only homeschooling each child until the end of Grade 3, that would mean four more years--a somewhat disheartening number, I admit, but still smaller than the six years it has already been on hold, or the eleven years since we started it. And I was okay with that.

I was even somewhat at ease with the idea that it could be longer, if it seemed best to keep homeschooling beyond third grade--say, until they graduate. I just couldn't see how I could write a musical while homeschooling three boys, especially in the elementary grades--and educating our children in the way we felt God wanted us to was of the highest priority.

This week, I unexpectedly found myself transported to Albuquerque and staring at that fork in the road once more. Candace called me with the announcement that next year (2011-2012) is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the college arts centre we attended, and that they were focusing on alumni work. Every Christmas season, they do a musical, which they decide on in the early spring. And, due to our contacts there and the fact that we qualify as alumni, if we could complete our musical by spring, there is every likelihood that ours would be the one they perform next school year.

My first reaction was not emotional, but logical: I know about how much time finishing the musical will take, and was pretty sure that I did not have that many hours of my life uncommitted to something else before spring--you know, things like teaching, my marriage, sleeping. Important stuff, right? In fact, I have been on a mission to simplify my life for the past few years (believe it or not), so although my life is very full, it is full of the things I had carefully considered to be of the utmost importance. So, I told her I would think about it and let her know in a few days.

The more I thought about it, and as Jason and I talked it out and prayed about it, it just seemed like now really is the time to pursue this. After all, with the end date when all my children are gone to a separate institution of learning being rather nebulous and seeming to get farther away rather than closer, now just might be the time. Since I work best with a deadline, now just might be the time. Despite the fact that my church is currently going through a rather major upheaval, now might be the time. With the support of the other worship team leaders and the church elders to step back from my position and do this, now just might be the time. With a brand new scoring program upgrade at my disposal that I bought this spring for no real reason (which Jason is installing on my laptop as I type), now just might be the time. With Jason willing to help me by supporting me in the sacrifices we would have to make this winter to get it done, now just might be the time.

In fact, the more things that lined up, the more I couldn't deny that now really does seem to be the time for this. Like the heroine of our musical story, sometimes it becomes obvious that God has manoeuvred events in such a way that now is EXACTLY the time to do what He has called you to do. The continuous erosion of the passing years had taken the edge off of the emotional attachment to this dream, as I learned to "let go and let God" work in me. So I was pretty confident that the feeling of peace I had with the decision to go ahead and do it was not just my own wishful thinking, but rather of more divine influence.

So here I go--I've taken the off-ramp, clover-leafed around, and suddenly I find myself on the road to my dream once more. Will it be easy? I doubt it. But today, as I was starting to sweep the dust off of binders long unopened, I actually started to get excited. (I hadn't allowed myself to before, as I wanted to keep emotion out of the decision-making process.) As I started to work through songs that my brain hasn't sung for years, I noticed that there was something different--my abilities have increased. Parts of the composition that had intimidated me before were coming into my mind in stereo surround sound, and I could hear the strings and the horns, the rhythm of the bass, the clarinet line. I'm no Mozart (who wrote down completed compositions that he had already heard in his head with no revisions), but after gestating in my brain for eleven years, it seems that this musical is in its last trimester. It is almost fully formed--now we just have to write it down, and push it out into the world.

Mexico, here I come!


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost

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10 comments

  1. You go girl! And if there is any way I can help you I'll be there for you. I can see it now....."I knew Talena when..." Be assured of my prayers daily...and we can still fit in visits on Saturdays!

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  2. Talena, that's so great!! I'm very happy you were paying attention and didn't miss that less-traveled road when it came up. I wish you grand EVERYTHING as you pursue your dream. xo

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  3. Yay! It's going to be hard, but worth it. Sort of like labour. We can do it!!!!!

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  4. FW - Is that you, Mrs. V? Yes, very worth it.

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  5. You should do it, honey! What you have already is absolutely wonderful, but the Lord will give you even more as you are willing and available to sit at His feet! It's funny, but I was just talking to a friend of mine last week about this Esther musical my niece had worked on (we're studying Esther this spring) and wondering if you'd ever gotten further on it. So...you were already on my heart. Praying for you, sweet girl! Auntie Julie

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  6. Hi, Auntie Julie! Wow, are you using any reference materials for your study? I found the Chuck Swindoll character sketch of her very interesting.

    Thank you for your support! I'm very excited now, the farther I get into it! Love you!

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  7. I haven't gotten into detailed study on that yet as we are currently in Ezra and will be doing Nehemiah next before studying for Esther, but I'll keep you posted if I find some good materials. Have you read the Esther novel by Trudy Morgan-Cole? I read it years ago, but it was really interesting. Auntie Julie

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  8. That's the one where it actually talks about X's other wives, right? If so, then YES, and I found it VERY helpful in understanding the situation and character. I also read another one when I was a teen, but I do not remember the author.

    And it just occurred to me that it might have been Chuck Colson who did the character sketch. It was an author who did a series of books that were character sketches of different Bible characters.

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