Fives and Threes

At our Laity Lodge retreat I gave each of the speakers the same assignment:

What are FIVE things you wish you had been told when you first started off as an artist and what are THREE practices that keep you healthy and sane as an artist?

Here is how two of our speakers, Sandra Organ-Solis and Charlie Peacock, answered this double question. I'll post Ginger Geyer's answers in a subsequent post.


Five things I wish I had been told when I first started out as a ballet dancer:

1. That I would be misunderstood by both black and white communities.

2. That hard work will not always be rewarded; and concomitantly that diplomacy and cooperation are essential, that being a team player is non-negotiable.

3. That it would be incredibly important to learn how to take correction well.

4. That I should be prepared to reassess my artistic life and try other things along the way.

5. That losing dancers in your company (to other companies or other opportunities or "greener pastures") would be heartbreaking, that it would be wounding.

Three practices that have kept my healthy and sane along the way:

1. Prayer and small group life (I've been in one for thirty years non-stop).

2. Taking a sabbath--daily ones, weekly ones, monthly ones.

3. Exposing myself to other pursuits and interests outside of my artistic work.

Finally, Sandra involved specific "movements" with each of her five points and at the end invited us to move with her. Here is a small video of that experiment and I'll be surprised if I'm not sued or de-friended on Facebook by the people who show up in this video. But hey. It was an experiment. You guys look awesome. And there's something to be said for dancing like there's no tomorrow. And, yes, the dance makes better sense in its original context.


Five things I wish I had been told when I first started out as a musician:

1. That all of life is grace. That there is nothing that I could do to make God love me more. To the extent that I have not appreciated grace, any instance of it becomes creativity and imagination killers.

2. That your senses, mind, imagination and body need to always be learning, absorbing, taking in.

3. That the word "Christian" would someday be associated in the entertainment industry more with a genre than with the person of Christ.

4. That there are many ways of knowing and being known.

5. That even among the best of people ... financial success, awards, consistent presence in the media, and work with recognizable brands and names means more than a quiet faithful life. Even the best of people, that is, give in to the temptation to desire the former over the latter.

Three practices that have kept my healthy and sane along the way:

1. God: having a conversational relationship with God.

2. People: hearing my wife regularly say to me when I'm in the thick of a music project, "You need to remember that there are more people in the world than just you and your artistic making."

3. Place: learning, accepting and even embracing the way in which the places of my life have shaped me and continue to shape me rather than wishing to escape them.

Last question Charlie asks himself consistently: Who am I becoming while I'm doing all this making?

Finally, here are two videos from Charlie's performance on the Friday evening of our retreat: one that includes music from his forthcoming album and one that involves an improv collaboration with Kenyon Adams on Charlie's more famous song.


Wow, excellent reminders. Great questions. Thanks for posting them.
Melody, both were very honest with the group and the material was thought-provoking all throughout.
Sherri Coffield said…
Thank you for posting this David. It's like revisiting a familiar friend. This portion of the retreat was so honest, and life giving it was like having a personal conversation in my own living room. They shared their experiences and hearts in a way that ran deep and personal. I will always remember it.
I agree, Sherri, wholeheartedly.
Jennifer said…
I need to print Charlie's list and post it in my studio somewhere. Thanks for sharing this.
David Maine said…
Hi David,

This isn't a comment on this posting--just a note that I onnly recently was tipped off to your recommendation of my books, back in Dec 2010, to a group of pastors. Thanks. I appreciate the apparent care with which you read them, and your willingness to spread the word about them.

I posted the video on my blog, if that's okay. Better late than never!

Hope all is well with you.


Dave Maine
gramma said…
thanks so much for posting~
Anonymous said…
I'm practically in tears over the fact that I wasn't there! So many of my friends together in one room, sharing this beauty and love and divinity. When is the next one?!?!
Christy, we're working on next year's retreat even as I type this sentence. Hope you can make it!

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