"Oh, I'm going to a concert tonight," announced Micah yesterday afternoon. I love these moments when an ordinary Monday is sidelined by a surprise. "There's a duo playing at the University of Wyoming called Sally and George. They describe themselves as a modern day Johnny and June Cash." Enough said. My evening was booked. The two singers, Shelby Means and Joel Timmons, stepped on stage dressed entirely in black. Under his bowler hat and her flamenco hung their long blonde hair (hers a bleached out mane of curls and his, sandy blonde and stringy, exactly what one would expect of a surfer). Her sharp toed cowboy boots peaked out from under her pant legs and I knew, just by the look of them, this would be good.
Their vocals were interesting and melodious. His electric guitar and her acoustic bass went together like Johnny and June. And like Johnny and June, Joel and Shelby fell in love. Joel had met Shelby only twice when he wrote her a love song. Be still, my beating heart. Apparently two times was the charm because they're now engaged to be married. It would be easy to end the story here: two young, fabulously dressed musicians who are following their dreams and madly in love with each other. Thank God there's more to their story (which also means there's hope for the rest of us ordinary souls who would have been having an otherwise quiet Monday evening at home...in her sweatpants).
The rest of their story involved a whole lot of hard work and a fair amount of tribulation. Shelby worked three part-time jobs to support herself in Nashville. She landed her first full-time gig with a band that went on tour and paid her next to nothing. Her big break nearly broke the bank. Joel wound up with a life-threatening and debilitating illness that left him wheelchair bound for a period of time. He spent a year retraining himself to play the guitar. Joel and Shelby just finished their first album. It only took them two years and recording sessions at three different studios across the country to finally get it right. And though they have gotten it right, the rest won't come easy as they try to get their album off the ground and their musical careers on the road again.
Their story reminds me that it isn't luck or a one-of-a-kind gift that separates successful creatives from everyone else, it's the work. I periodically complain to Micah about this problem...or that problem...with my writing project. "But I don't know if it will all come together," I say. "No, you won't until you write it all down," says Micah. "What if my chapters are too short?" I ask. "Well, you'll find out eventually," says Micah. I'm just stalling because the work is often hard and slow-going and I don't know what will come of it. But the truth is, the bowler hat and black pointy cowboy boots do not make the artist. Hard work does.
So here's to all of those mundane Mondays spent at home in front of the computer plugging away at my dreams...and to yours.