It was late and the nightclub was packed. I was one of the four featured DJ’s for the event—a dance party showcasing some of the hottest club music around, played by some of my city’s (supposedly) best disc jockey talent. Of the four of us headlining that evening, one would go on to international success as a DJ and record producer, another would become a member of one of Australia’s most successful urban music outfits, and the third was a smooth turntablist with extensive acclaim amongst the city’s clubbing fraternity.
And then there was me.
I had been awakened to the creative possibilities of record mixing from the age of 12 when I first saw the film Beat Street. A poorly scripted flick with little plot but a heaping helping of New York street culture, Beat Street displayed what a DJ could do with two turntables—mixing records with similar tempos into a seamless party soundtrack. Somehow I wanted to learn how to be so clever and creative with music. When I grew up, I decided, I was going to be a nightclub DJ.
As a teenager I experimented with all manner of dilapidated equipment, hooking multiple tape decks and barely-usable record players together, trying to hone my skills with songs taped off the radio and the occasional twelve-inch record bought with pocket money. By the time I was 16 I felt my time had come. All I needed to succeed as a DJ was a chance.
So, I called a city nightclub (the brazenness scares me now) and arranged a face-to-face chat with its manager. The manager overlooked my naivety and arranged for me to meet their house DJ by returning that evening. Return I did and before long I was looking after the decks most Saturday nights while the employed jock enjoyed free drinks at the bar. (Oh, they never knew about my underage status.)
A few years later I had achieved runner-up in a state-wide DJ mixing competition. And that win was why I was now standing in this nightclub, facing hundreds of people ready to hear me do my stuff.
But that evening I was mildly aware that something wasn’t adding up. I was starting to realise my dreams, achieving in competitions and getting my name printed on posters and hand bills. Sure, in the grand scheme of things my success was minor—I wasn’t even well known in my city’s clubbing scene yet, let alone near achieving the international stardom of DJs like Carl Cox or Pete Tong. But shouldn’t I be feeling better than this?
The higher I climbed the ladder of my dreams the more restless I seemed to feel. The more success I achieved the more meaningless life seemed to be.
It didn’t make sense.
Something within me yearned for something more.
What Do You Really Want?
I describe how that evening ended in today’s podcast (you can listen below). Basically put, sometimes you get to see a dream realised and discover the dream wasn’t that great to begin with. As the party ends and the streamers are swept up, you realise you yearn for something greater, deeper, more lasting. That was my experience.
Within us all lie longings that simple success, affirmation and wealth fail to meet. In Unseen Footprints I describe these longings as a yearning for:
- Purpose: A deep desire to know the reason for our existence.
- Guidance: Wisdom to know which path to take, as our lives are short.
- Liberation: Freedom from the pain we live with, abuse we’ve encountered or consequences of our poor choices.
- Belonging: A deep yearning to love, be loved and feel a sense of ‘home’.
An Exercise for You
As previously mentioned, the new edition of Unseen Footprints includes exercises on writing a spiritual memoir. After beginning with your inciting incident, this theme of yearning is an important one to include in your story. Here are some prompts to help you explore it:
- Purpose: How have you tried to find a sense of meaning and purpose to your life? Describe the books read, conversations had, any seminars taken, places of worship visited or experiences sought. My story would go something like this: “I longed for a sense of purpose to my life and started looking for it in the nightclub scene…”
- Guidance: Describe your attempts to find direction for your life or for a significant decision, particularly as it relates to your spiritual journey. An example from my story would be: “I once read Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, hoping it would give me some tips on how to make my life work.”
- Liberation: How have you sought freedom from your pain, past or any sense of inner emptiness experienced? Relate how you have so far sought a remedy to your ‘inciting incident’ outlined in the previous post.
- Belonging: This might be the ‘messy’ part of your story. A longing to belong can have us wind up in the arms of many, or in groups that are less than healthy. This exercise is for your eyes only; describe your attempts to find love and acceptance.
Now, here’s my hunch: I believe these yearnings are placed within us by God. And while we may find a degree of purpose, guidance, liberation and belonging without God, my deep belief is that they will only be fulfilled in a deep connection with him. They are echoing spaces awaiting to be filled by God. As Charles Colson has said:
“In every human being is a deep, ongoing search for meaning and transcendence—part of the image of God in our very nature. Even if we flee God, the religious imprint remains…”
In the Podcast
Question: Have you ever had a dream came true but found it was less than you had hoped? What did you learn? Share your comment now.