This past week has been a busy one with an ongoing job search and working on setting up house shows for the spring, so it was a natural time for writer’s block to set in in a major way. I had ideas of what I wanted to write and I hit a brick wall with every turn of a phrase. There are plenty of artists I want to talk about and let you all know of, but nothing was clicking.
Then nights like tonight happen, and the muse comes from the most unlikely of places for someone who professes to champion artists that are flying just a little below the radar, that have nothing to do with what is mainstream at the moment. And that “muse” came in the form of a friend of mine, Phillip “Pip” Arnold on the hit NBC show, “The Voice.”
Now I’m not a huge fan of singing competitions on network television and I usually just tune into shows like American Idol to see the early rounds for the cheap laughs and entertainment, but when I heard Pip was going to be on The Voice, I was hooked, DVR set and everything. And boy, oh boy, did he not disappoint on tonight’s episode.
Taking a step back and getting to the crux of why I’m writing this in the first place, let me give you a little history of our connection. About a year after graduating from Samford University, I moved back to Birmingham to take a job as an admission counselor for the greater Atlanta area. Somewhere along the line, I met Phillip and his wonderful parents, Jim and Chris, during his junior year. Going into my second year of recruiting, the Arnold family asked me to stay with them while recruiting in Atlanta, as they had heard I typically decided against staying in hotels and preferred spending more time with families in the area. Immersion recruiting I think a mentor of mine called it. Who knows, but it was really just an opportunity to pour my life into these Atlanta people’s lives. During the week or two I lived with the Arnolds, I had the unfortunate illness known as the “swine flu” and was rushed to the doctor by none other than Mrs. Arnold. It was an adventure to say the least, and I was glad to be staying with folks that took great care of me.
Long story short, Pip grew up in a musically inclined family, with a dad who was a radio DJ for many years and who had quite the collection of music in their basement. Pip had a gift for singing and for entertaining, that much was evident in YouTube videos (see below) that his mom would show me as any proud mother would do. But it was different when she showed me those videos: she knew there was something special about his talents.
When it came time to make a decision on college, it was evaluating a practical path that lead to a high income (pharmacy) or following a passion for music. Daily I heard about the struggle to make a decision of which path to follow when I talked to them over the phone, with Pip eventually deciding to pursue pharmacy, but you could always tell there was something about music that he couldn’t quite let go of. Obviously it turned out that Pip followed his passion and his dreams and chose music over pharmacy, and that is the reason for this whole post: I want YOU to pursue your passions in life. We NEED people to pursue their passions in life and stop doing just what seems practical or likely to help them land a decent paying job.
It was an absolute joy to watch Pip on The Voice tonight, and see him live out his passion on stage and see his dreams fulfilled as ALL FOUR judges turned their chairs around hoping that he would choose them to work with. I mean, seriously, can you imagine being in a situation any better than having four stars of that caliber battling for the right to groom you into an artist? Wow!
I say all this not to make light of “practical” professions, because we absolutely need people who are passionate about their jobs in those industries, but to encourage you all to aim high in what you hope to accomplish and pursue your dreams with as much tenacity and strength that you can muster, because I guarantee you it will be worth it and that the journey that you go on will grow you immensely. As I write this I’m reminded of John Eldredge’s quote that says “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive because what the world needs are [people] who have come alive.”
So Pip, thank you for reminding me and reminding so many others, that there are things in each of us, purposes and passions, just waiting to come alive that will allow us to change the world. Hope you win the whole dang competition!