Monday, August 9, 2010

Lessons in mindless activity.

August 3, 2010.

2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday night. Absolutely mindless pop songs pumping through my headphones. Well into my fifth game of Spider Solitaire. Click, click, click. Staring blankly ahead, just attempting anything to briefly get my mind off of what will absolutely consume me for the next week and a half - the final project of my music students from this summer.

I remember my college days (I really lack an excuse not to, seeing how they were a mere two years ago) - piles of projects weighing on my shoulders, rehearsals, tests, hours in practice rooms preparing for recitals and lessons. I used to spend almost as much time stressing out about responsibilities as I did actually working on them. When I felt everything crowding in around me, I had a very familiar routine: head straight to my computer, slap some headphones on, and play multiple rounds of Spider Solitaire - mindless activity that would distract me from the insanity.

Tonight is the first I have thought of Spider Solitaire in quite some time. Since I automatically relate the game to the busier times of my life, I thought it best to close down my game early to reflect on just why I went straight into stress-recovery mode tonight. (I suppose it does not help that I had a cup of coffee around 9 p.m. either).

I think big. I dream big. I have ambition that often wears shoes bigger than I am ready to fill. I have perfectionist tendencies. My expectations for myself and my projects are high and my frustration is just as high when those expectations are not met.

This summer, I am dreaming big for my music students. In a month's time - two days a week and only 40 minutes with each class at a time, I decided my students would have a song written, rehearsed, and recorded by the time I had to leave. I truly believe they will be able to do it, but the focus has to remain strong in the short amount of time I have left. I also believe my Father knows my ambitious, big-dreaming heart and loves me enough to show me what can be done when one will combine hard work, prayer, and selfless ambition for the purpose of the kingdom.

I also went into the studio this past weekend with my friend, Dorian, to help record songs for his upcoming album. This was my first time in a real studio; my first time really recording songs. As I walked in and heard the first strains of a guitar part for one of my songs, I just stopped and shut my eyes, trying to take it all in. When I opened them, Dorian looked at me and said, "Erin, I feel like this just became real to you."

He could not have been more right.

When I was ten years old, I secretly decided that I would write songs and perform them for the rest of my life. I did not have a clue as to how or when, but I knew I wanted this to be my main pursuit. Over time, I lost that vision due to several factors: insecurities, detrimental rationale (not that all rationale is detrimental, but was so in this case), and fear. I had almost completely talked myself our of the idea by the time I entered college and found that it is so much "easier" to hide behind teaching piano or looking for other routes to take under that huge umbrella of "music."

But lights are not meant to be hidden under a bushel. Trust me - I have tried for years. I chose to let stubbornness take the wheel in my life for a long time, but it only drove me even further towards the emptiness I felt without the pursuit of what I felt born to do: write songs and perform them. Funny how the ten-year-old Erin Dalton knew so much more than the 24-year-old version of me could understand.

All of this to say, I have no idea what direction is beginning to take shape in my life in the way of music, but I can feel it turning somewhere that I am not ready to face yet. I need prayers. I need wisdom. I need patience. I need trust when this direction does not go as I might expect it to.

Which explains why I am sitting in front of my computer, headphones on, and an unfinished game of Spider Solitaire. Tonight I am on autopilot; mindless activity. Tomorrow I hope to return to mindful thinking.


  1. I admire you a lot Erin Dalton

  2. I'm pretty excited to see where this path will lead! I love your music and I pretty sure there's a lot of other people out there who will feel the same way...

  3. cayli, that's very encouraging...thanks so much, friend and i will keep you updated