It has got to the stage of the year, with just over a week left of 2021, where my mind naturally slips into reflective mode. Annoying it seems to do this at the least convenient of times, usually in the middle of the night with a looming morning alarm. Last night was one of those nights where I not only found myself thinking about the past year, but really about the past decade having been reminded by facebook that 2022 will mark 10 years since responding to an invitation to take on a job role that has continued to have significant impact on my life (largely positive) to this day.
Not wanting to bore you too much I’ll leave most of my reflections to the watches of the night, but here are some of my reflections on the past 12 months:
I came into the year with a lot of enthusiasm for the various creative expressions of life. Despite all of its challenges the previous year had brought an abundance of opportunity, or even necessity, to create! Hours spent at the desk each week editing videos or producing songs for various pre-recorded church services gave rise to some creative momentum that dragged to completion some solo creative projects (with the help of my friend Mark Goslett) as well as some slightly more budget-sounding but equally fun Through The Waters music.
All this meant that the start of 2021 saw the release of lots of new music, but by mid-February it felt like the breaks had well and truly been applied moving from London and starting a new incredibly exciting but almost all-consuming role here in Chatham, Kent. As I look back on this year I am frustrated that there wasn’t more opportunity to ride the wave of momentum and make more of the opportunities that putting out new music provides (there were a few release dates that I forgot about until the day itself), but in reality although there is some frustration it’s hard to know what, if anything, we would have changed.
Even if there was something glaringly obvious that I’d like to go back and change about this past year this isn’t a luxury that any of us are afforded so instead I will have to be content with acknowledging the good (even amongst the challenges) and remain committed to learning from the less good.
So although I carry frustration at missed opportunities and lost momentum, ultimately I am resigned to the fact that 2021 shall be filed as a year of ‘Creative Silence’. I have always believed that creativity and creative gifts are treasures to be nurtured and invested in; a little bit like muscles that need to be stretched and even pushed beyond comfort to really grow and strengthen. In reality this hasn’t been a season where I’ve felt the capacity to exercise much of my creativity at all. If I’m honest this admission comes with a fair amount of guilt because deep down I know that only I’m responsible for the pursuits I’ve found time for and those I haven’t.
Again, creativity is not unlike physical exercise; the longer you’ve been away from the gym the harder it is to go back (coming from the person who once paid for a year’s gym membership and went along four times)! With each day I’ve found it harder to think about where I would even start writing a new song, or sharing something about creativity on social media, writing a blog post or recording a video.
Does this mean I’m ready to cancel my membership and count my losses? No, not yet because something deep inside me still longs to create, wants to find new lyrics and chord progressions that give expression to what I feel inside. I believe I’ve still got something (or maybe even more than one thing) to say and that somewhere buried inside I’ve got the means to say it, but I recognise that the lack of creative exercise and discipline leaves me starting further back even than I was 12 months ago.
2021 has been a year of many things for many people, and in the scheme of things a blip of creativity features way down on a list of hardships and if anything is a symptom of my manifold blessings, but I do hope that in the sleepless nights of reflection in a year’s time I will be able to feel more at peace that I have made better use of the wonderful gift of creativity. Bring on 2022 (although to be fair I think I may have said that about 2020 and look where that got us).
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY, CREATIVE NEW YEAR!