For those of you who know me personally, you may know my life has had its challenges, although sometimes I hide it well. But art isn’t about hiding. And neither is life. I’ve learned that lesson over the last number of years from brave people who have shared their stories and prayed with me—the stories that God put in my path—the ones that got me through heartache and loss. They reminded me that there’s always more ahead of us worth discovering and that God has a purpose, which our frail, human eyes cannot always see. We get the most value from each struggle or heartbreak by connecting with others who understand and by learning new things about ourselves and finding our faith stronger in the end. And we feel the most joy by sharing it with others and seeing that joy in a brighter light than we ever could have without the pain.
It may sound cliché, but life really is a journey. Like most of you, my journey has been one characterized by moments of despair and quiet desperation, times of great joy and triumph and continued testing of faith—trials punctuated by great blessings. Perhaps, just as with joy, we can see the blessings better because of the trials though, and often, it’s through trials that great art is born. A devotional I once read by William Taylor in Streams in the Desert said something like: For God to give us songs in the night, He must first make it night. Often it’s in the darkness we learn to navigate in a new way; we learn to rest. We learn that we aren’t in control. We learn that everybody’s journey looks differently and that’s ok. And the result of all that learning brings us to the realization that we’re all connected in some way though too because we’ve all felt sorrow and grief, joy and excitement. And each of us, as Walt Whitman said, can contribute a verse to the powerful play of human existence.
One large part of my journey has been battling with chronic pain and autoimmune issues for a lot of my life. Because of this, I’ve had to face the—often daily—challenge of functioning “normally.” Through the blessing of a dear friend introducing me to natural medicine, I’ve gained my health slowly, one year at a time—often two steps forward and then one step back—progress being made in many ways but always living with this mystery of when it will become worse or better. I am thankful, however, for the headway I’ve made in recent years and for the opportunity that this chronic illness has afforded me to learn how to take better care of myself and others around me. To be clear, I certainly could have it worse—this disclosure is not to complain or invoke pity, but to open myself up a bit—to share my story and encourage those out there in similar situations that, with God, all things are possible, and dreams are worth chasing, whatever your situation. It may take you longer. You may have to work harder, but never give up. You have a story to tell.
So, I’m sharing some of my words and music in the form of my first, original-song album—my first “printed” contribution to the powerful play, if you will. Digging deep from my experiences and hopes, heartaches and loss, I’m telling a little of my story, hoping to connect with yours. I’ve always been especially drawn to lyrical, melodic songs that, even if they are upbeat and fun, have a story to tell—from Burt Bacharach/Hal David to Rodgers/Hammerstein and the likes of Joni Mitchell and Sting to Country music and...well, the list goes on quite long if you’ve seen my music collection... ;)
In addition to the story, storytellers are just as important. Isn’t it so engaging when someone uses different voices as they’re reading a storybook to their kids? (One of my English professors in college did this for his students and people flocked to his classes!) That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been so inspired by performers who are also great interpreters and can make you feel a song. It’s always the best compliment I can receive: that someone felt something deeply as they listened to one of my songs or performances. Great art is really about communication and baring a little of our souls, whether we are in the role of artist or audience. It celebrates the moments of beauty and vulnerability that connect us all. I can't wait for you to share in a little bit of my story when you listen to my new album—and I say “share in” because when we connect with another’s journey, even if for only a brief moment, it becomes part of our own in a way, as it impacts us or inspires us or just makes us stop and listen for a while. I hope these pieces and threads of my story help you feel that you're not alone in this fantastic, crazy journey called life.
Stay tuned. As always, the best is yet to come,
Tara (Phil. 4:13)