Song #1 that will change your life.
Colin Hay is the former lead singer of the 80s Australian band, Men at Work. Their biggest hit was “Land Down Under,” a classic ballad that managed to work in the phrase “vegemite sandwich” to the lyrics. It’s a fun song but lyrically speaking, I think Hay saved his best words for his solo career.
Counselor #3 once told me that he thinks God is part of every piece of art we create. That whenever there is beauty present, God is present. That to tap into our creative spirit is to tap into God himself. I think that’s true. I don’t think that there are beautiful moments or works of art we create that take God by surprise. That whether we know it or not, it is his colors we paint with. In Luke, Christ touches on this a little when he claims that if people did not praise him, “the stones will cry out.”
I think that in the core of who we are, we are wired for worship. And regardless of the intent, worship is what I hear hidden in Hay’s song, “Waiting for my real life to begin.”
Musically, the song is simple, an acoustic guitar pared with Hay’s unadorned voice. It’s the lyrics that speak so vividly to the message at hand.
It opens with a description of expectation, of hopes unrealized but still alive:
Any minute now my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I’ll stand on the bow
And feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down on me
I love the timeframe established in the first three words, “any minute now.” Despite being in his 50s, Hay is positive that his big break is merely around the corner.
The song continues with the introduction of the person Hay is pleading with:
And you said, “Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in”
Don’t you understand?
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin
It’s quite possible Hay is singing to his wife, but in these words unfolds the kind of things I think God longs to sing to us. Be still. Rest. Take comfort in me. Open up your heart, let the light shine in. And we respond like Hay, “I already have a plan.”
The second verse begins:
When I awoke today suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path
And up this cobbled lane
I’m walking in my own footsteps once again
That first line is like a punch in the stomach. How many mornings have I awoken with the same thought? How many new years have I started with the same sense of doldrums inspired stillness, that suddenly nothing happened?
And the idea of dreaming about slaying the dragon. I have a few dragons. Problems so large and ugly they seem mythical and unbeatable in the light of most days, but at night, at night I am a hero. I win. I win, but I wake and they wait at the foot of my bed.
How does the God character respond to Hay’s admittance of walking the same footsteps all over again?
And you say, “Just be here now
Forget about the past
Your mask is wearing thin”
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin
Just be here now. How beautiful those four words are to the weary traveler, to the heart expecting penance or labor to earn a way back into the father’s presence. Be here now, live in this moment. And is there a more God like sentence than “forget about the past?” In Psalm 103:12 it says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God has forgotten the past and pleads with Hay to do the same.
And then, last but not least, Hay is told, “your mask is wearing thin.” Wow, as someone that’s worn roughly 897 different masks, that strikes particularly close to home. It’s felt thin to me, there have been times in my life when I feared the veneer of who I was trying to be would crack and reveal whom I was inside.
The song ends without a true conclusion. Hay intones that on a clear day he can see for a long way. We are left without clues to the resolution of the conversation that has taken place. We can only imagine where Hay’s heart settled, but we are forced to some degree, to wrestle with our own conversation. To know that God is whispering to us as he did Hay, “Be still, my love. Just be here now. Be still, my love.”