(Click here to download the .mp3.)
I wrote this song after I turned 40 in February. Forty is a nice round number—the official beginning of middle age. It’s a number that affords taking stock of one’s life, surrendering to the temptation to ask, “Where am I now? What have I accomplished? What do I have to show for these four decades on earth?” Life begins at 40, some well-intentioned friends consoled me. Yeah, right! John Lennon was dead at 40—and look at what he had accomplished by then!
Regret is the devil. Former Mr. Might-Have-Been, would you please make friends with the skin you’re in?
In my sermon yesterday, I said the following:
We are busy. We are stressed. And maybe we long to return to a simpler time in our lives—when we had the luxury of being carefree. I certainly feel that pull. I had lunch with a high school friend recently with whom I played in a garage band in high school—in ninth grade. We called ourselves Ox Tongue. He gave me a tape of some original songs that we recorded back then.
And I heard the voice of that 14-year-old version of myself on that tape and wanted to tell that person, “Brent, enjoy this time in your life! It doesn’t last long! Take life easy. Go flirt with girls—instead of being afraid of them. Have fun—at least before you enter the world of adult responsibilities, and you don’t have the luxury of spending time in your friend’s basement worrying about what to name your band.” And I think, “I didn’t enjoy that time enough! I didn’t realize how good I had it! Youth is wasted on the young!”
But this past to which I sometimes long to return never existed. When was it ever carefree? No… in its own way life was complicated back then, too. I certainly wasn’t happier then than I am now.
Besides, happiness isn’t found in escaping from our present circumstances. You’ve been talking about running away/ I’ve been talking about running away/ But I won’t walk that line. If we can’t find happiness where we are now, we won’t find it anywhere else—or in anyone or anything else. Even if it were possible to leave all of our present problems behind.
We can’t turn back time, but if we could we’d find that what stands in the way of our happiness is not time or circumstances or relationships but ourselves. This is partly what it means to say that we are sinners. Happiness, fulfillment, contentment, and peace are found only in their source—and ours:
And when you find that your worth is
Not buried in this earth it’s
Nearer than your fingerprints
It will all make sense in the future tense
Enjoy the song. I recorded and mixed it using Apple’s amazing GarageBand software. I played all guitars, bass, and keyboards. I sang. (I want someone to add a harmony vocal at some point in the future!) I used the built-in drum loops in GarageBand for percussion.