In 2007 we hosted a conference here in Wales with our good friend and a guy who we had massive respect for, Martin Scott. At the time we were seeing something which seemed so fresh and new break out in our lives and nation. We were super excited and felt that what we were experiencing carried with it a potential for great change. Martin was encouraged by the newness and the ‘nowness’ of what we were beginning to walk in; Seven years beforehand he had prophesied that something powerful was about to break open in Wales which would cause waves to be felt throughout the UK and further afield. Martin was encouraged by what he was seeing manifest amongst us, BUT if you know Martin you will also be aware that Martin will always be quick to temper youthful enthusiasm with apostolic wisdom! Today was to be no different and as Martin shared that day he said something which stuck in my spirit like a barbed arrow; “What you are experiencing here today is good for ‘Today,’ YET if you are still doing the same thing 7 years from today then I will have to suggest that you have not moved on and have chosen to camp around a previous season!” (Sadly many are still doing the same thing more than 7 years down the road!)
Running alongside that thought I have to admit to being emotionally moved this past week as I watched a powerful documentary of John and Yoko Ono Lennon and particularly their ‘Plastic Ono Band’ album. The documentary started with Lennon giving his perception of the album; “I think it’s the best thing I have ever done, I think it’s realistic and it’s true to the ‘Me who has been developing over the years’!” As I watched the documentary further I realised that for Lennon this album was almost his ‘coming out’ album. He saw this production as a moment in his personal, spiritual and artistic evolution where he could draw a line under his past and at long last ‘move on’ and away from the charismatic/mainstream success which he had experienced as a Beatle. Whilst recording the album he commented to a friend that he would have hated to have gone into his thirties singing ‘Love me Do!’ Lennon realised more than most that the Lennon of the Beatles heyday was long gone, that he had evolved and that success for him ‘now’ looked more like being honest with himself and setting the records straight regarding who he was more than attracting huge crowds and packing out the biggest stadiums! The album bore testimony to Lennon’s crazy and ever evolving journey, it was a raw depiction of his inner fears, hurts, regrets and desires, an album where he was courageous enough to pencil in the lyrics; “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me!” Bold Stuff!!
I guess in many ways it ‘may’ have been easier for Lennon to have camped around a previous success, I mean who on earth would not have thrived upon the mass hype, hysteria and lucrative lifestyle which Beatle Mania produced? Yet it seemed that Lennon’s spiritual journey had led him to a point in his life where some things were now more important to him than camping around the success of a previous season of his life. Yet maturity for Lennon now saw priorities such as honesty to one’s self, willingness to move forward at any cost and being willing to be seen as a ‘has been’ whilst attempting to cut new ground were weighing more heavy on his conscience than making another buck or remaining ‘popular!’ Watching the documentary you just had to honour Lennon’s willingness to burn his bridges, push out the boat and confess through his lyrics to the world a depiction of the man whom he had now become. I was deeply moved by John’s adamance to put everything on the line in a day where many would have loved nothing more than a Beatle’s re-union, a re-union which would have brought even more dollars and success to the door of a guy who was desperate to be known not as a millionaire but as a free spirit!
Success is such a strange commodity! What success looks like for one man may look like insignificant mediocrity to another. Martin Scott nailed it, “What seems like success now won’t be success IF you are still re-producing it in 7 years time!” Sadly many recognise a seeming success in one season then do all they can to re-produce what that looks like in a future season! Success and happiness for me today looks nothing like my perception of success 7 years ago! For me ‘Today’ success looks like fully appreciating the now, embracing and being embraced by life, fully engaging with every second, finding bliss in the seeming mundane moments in life, watching my wife and children grow in confidence and identity, pushing myself to the limit at the gym and in every aspect of my life, loving and being loved by humanity AND the list goes on and on and on! Some who have failed to embrace ‘The Me’ which my journey has produced are wanting a different ‘Me,’ a former me, the charismatic me who for a season facilitated gatherings and drew crowds. People are always messaging me suggesting that maybe I should host another gathering or get back out on the road, I honour their appreciation for the ‘me’ of the past, yet I also joyfully recognise that this ‘me’ has now evolved and that in many respects I no longer recognise that person. Maybe in the same way Lennon failed to recognise the him who was formerly the Beatle who drew screaming crowds and who for a time scratched where others itched. These fans of the Lennon of The Beatles heyday would only have connected with a certain type of this great man, they would have failed to have appreciated who he had become and in so doing would have cut themselves off from receiving joy from a man who had moved on and matured into a better self! So sad, only those who were willing to trek with Lennon through his ever evolving journey would have been able to fully drink from the ‘Plastic Ono Band’ masterpiece!
I guess what I’m saying is we are all on a journey, we must all move and continue to move! The road forward will always be littered with the temptation to camp around yesterdays success. I honour guys like Robert Plant, the late David Bowie and Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd who continued to evolve and re-invent themselves, all the while keeping everything fresh whilst all along the crowds demanded a former ‘them’ to share songs of a previous season of their lives! My encouragement to others is to continue to move, to always honour that inner voice which demands that you continue to journey even when that means that you leave the glories/finances/success of a great season in your life. At the same time my thoughts and prayers are that we will give others space to roam, that we will honour others as they decide to explore areas new even when we struggle to honour their decision to do so! Many consider Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’ album as his greatest work. It amuses me that this artistic masterpiece only happened after Lennon had walked away from mainstream popularity and allowed his deepest hidden desires and fears to manifest. I love that!! I love the rawness and the reality of it! I love that we can move beyond right/wrong and into a place of naked realness about who we are and what we ‘presently’ believe! SELAH