First off, God is faithful. That’s true, and is true always. Second, I thank god for writing, I thank god for my hands that their ability to transmit coherent thought into keystrokes and intersecting lines. I’m thinking now of the future, and there it lies. All of it is already inside, I can feel my future within me like a child that’s grown along with me the last few months. I know that it is inside of me though I have not seen it, and I know that my future will be a different manifestation of the man that I am now. Pregnant with my future. The image is not very comforting, but the symbol is. I know that I do not need to do anything other than be myself and seek to learn, and continue seeking God’s kingdom to be provided for in every way. I also feel strongly that I am the person that I am so that God may use me, because any other uses of me would be a waste, even if it doesn’t seem so in the minds of men. So there that is, I am the Lord’s.
Music is the rudder of my soul. I’m afraid that there is too much inside of this statement for me to remain a coherent individual. I want to be able to be consistent in the person that I am and always be genuine in my interactions, but whether or not I choose to acknowledge it, music has a major influence on my mood and introspection. I feel that music carries this weight for me so that I will one day help others through the same relation. When I write music, there is a certain release that I cannot describe. Sometimes not being able to write makes me feel sick. A song is like a continuous anxiety that sits under a stoop in my heart, taking shelter from the storm of my brain. As I begin to feel the songs presence I start paying attention to what it might be about, what specific things in the storm of emotions and thought that the song is pertaining to. Then I sit and write. If it’s a good song it’ll write itself in more than an hour, if it’s really good it’ll be done in half that time. If it’s not too great it’ll take me a few tries to write a song, but that’s just how it goes. When I write my own music I begin to understand myself. Music is a medium to digest my feelings and emotions and experiences, and also share them with others. It’s a medium, and an undeserved gift that I am very thankful for.
I started writing music two summers ago. My older brother gave me his old guitar and a case and I started strumming, but more importantly I started praying. I felt that there would be no way for me to learn how to play music, due to my zero musical talent and background. But I started praying, and playing, and soon enough I had three or four chord shapes, enough to play a few songs. Then came singing. I needed to be able to sing to play out loud, also I was just sick of not being able to sing with my whole heart in church because of my tiny vocal range. So I prayed for a voice. I’m sure you can guess what happened next, but at the time I could not comprehend why or how God would help me be able to play the guitar and sing. When I didn’t really need to do either. That’s just the grace of God and we will never understand it. So anyway I started singing and playing and got better and better at both. That’s when I wrote the Elephant and the Wildflower.
At the time I had no clue what I was doing with such strange symbols in such an obscure allegory. What the heck do Elephants and Wildflowers have to do with one another? But now I know that’s just how I do songwriting. It kind of just happens. So I knew that this song was important and I knew that this point in my life was important. So I went on a quest into the desert to find myself, God, and my first song. I went on a pilgrimage to Joshua Tree national forest. Armed with the necessary items the most important being my guitar, bible and my brother’s hammock. I got in late at night, around ten, and set up camp in the desert maybe a mile from the car park and near some familiar rock formations. That time was so important for me, not only did I find God in the form of a giant big horned sheep who was watching over me as I played in the sunlit dawn. But I found myself and my song on the top of a windy precipice. The Elephant and the Wildflower would be my musical answer to prayer and the fulfillment of a silly boy’s dream. I recorded that song for the Phoenix (A student publication of art, music and poetry at Westmont) which through much pain and vulnerability, gave me the courage I needed to keep writing and start performing. Just open mics and stuff, but seriously, it’s all so important to me.
All this started because I was listening to some song written by some guy, I don’t even remember what it was. But when you hear a song that fits both your mood and situation, it transforms into a beautiful work of art that can be unique to every listener, or even every time you listen. I hope that you can understand the reasons that music should be made. It’s not for money or for fame or recognition, but a humble dedication to life itself. I’m not even sure if I understand it, but it’s powerful. And with our ipods and itunes and garagebands, it’s more powerful now than it has even been in the past. So live and love and listen to the melody. Pay attention to what music can teach you about a moment, and embrace it with all that you are. Music is a part of all of us, and there is so much that we still have to get from each other and the music that we all share. Just some things I’ve learned on this trip.
- Justin Glenn Davis