When I think of pure joy for our work, our art — the joy we feel when we create something good and it finds acceptance with an audience — I think of one of my favorite film scenes of the last 20 years.
In the 20th Century Fox film, That Thing You Do! (1996), a group of teenagers in 1964 Erie, Pennsylvania form a band, work hard to make a record and get the chance to go on tour, tasting a bit of success before conflicting dreams and personalities take them in different directions. School, jobs, military service, marriage, ego and all sorts of other things will divide them soon enough. But there’s one thing, during this one summer, that they all have in common: their music, their ‘thing.’ And as I’ve said before on this blog, we all have to have something that is ‘our thing,’ something that we love to do.
In this scene, the group discovers that the song they recorded (titled same as the movie) is on the radio for the first time.
I’d like to think that only an artist — writer, musician/composer, singer, painter, actor — can fully understand the sheer exuberance of this scene. Working and waiting and hoping for a chance. Having certain family or friends who just don’t get it. Having to work the day job while holding onto a dream. Finally getting accepted, getting noticed, getting an audience. (“I am Spartacus!” Victorious!) Despite the imperfect and blurry YouTube clip, the joy is palpable in this simple and sweet film, and I love how this scene captures it more beautifully than so many other films with the same plot (well-written and directed, Tom Hanks!)
Ultimately, though, the joy of this scene is not just for artists — anyone with a dream or passion deferred can relate to it. We all desire such joy in what we do, in living out our God-given gifts. So:
What would make you run down Main Street screaming with happiness?
What would you be willing to burst into a department store and announce to the world?
What victory would make you feel THAT much joy?
Whatever it is, do it. Create it, be an advocate for it, whatever ‘it’ is. Even if you have to keep the day job forever, get your passion incorporated into the schedule and fabric of your life somehow, even if just in small bits at first. If you haven’t started yet, start. If you’ve been at it for years and it’s just not getting anywhere, retool and try again. Just don’t stop that thing you do, that only you can do, that you were put on this earth to do.
(Disclaimer: I do not own this film; Posted from YouTube Video Account 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a dance war… )