T.J.

22 05 2017

It had easily been 20 years since the last time T.J. had crossed paths, and it was good to Rock _nsee my old friend again. Like me he had spent a number of years trying to break into the mainstream music industry but with one exception. At the height of my talent I consider myself an above par musician; T.J. on the other hand was an extremely talented saxophone player that could have played any venue in the country. Coming from musical gifted parents they had hoped he would have studied to teach music or perhaps join an orchestra in one of many metropolitan cities like they had done. But T.J.’s sights were set on something more; if he couldn’t make it as a soloist he dreamed of becoming part of a headline act, recording records and touring the world. Unfortunately as with so many talented musicians, T.J.’s opportunity never came so he gave up the dream and settled into a regular job and lifestyle. But it was so good to see him again and now with a wife and two children. We exchanged pleasantries and talked a little about the old days; then I asked, “Do you still blow that horn? You were one of the best I’ve ever heard.” There was a sudden look of shock and fright on not only on his face but his wife’s as well, and the kids were looking up at T.J. as if to say dad what’s he talking about! Quickly gathering his composure he answered, “Oh I haven’t played that thing in years, it was just a passing fad I was going through.” A few more small comments and we parted ways with smiles and hugs; but as I watched them walk away it didn’t take rocket science to know I had hit a delicate nerve.

It was as few years later I was with another friend and told him about my encounter with T.J. and how strange he became when I mentioned his horn playing. “Oh, you don’t know the story do you?” my friend commented. When T.J. met his future wife he was still playing and that was okay with her. But when the kids came along she hoped that he would give up and be home more since traveling took him away for weeks at a time. T.J. wasn’t ready for that and he kept playing, hardly seeing his family. It was when she got a call one day from a gal who told her T.J. and her had been together a lot when he was gone playing that everything changed dramatically. His wife gave him a choice, his music or his family; he chose music. For nearly a year he stayed away from home and tried to convince others, and especially himself, that this was for the best. The lied he told himself never took hold and my friend became sadder and darker with each passing day. During this time he caught on with a band that landed a tour beginning in England and going across Europe and into Asia. What he had dreamed of most for his life now seemed like a nightmare because he just couldn’t get his family out of his mind. Early one morning he packed his car, left a note to tell the others he wouldn’t be going with them to Europe, then drove 18 hours to get back home. I’m told the reunion was a little shaky at first, but when his wife realized his sincere desire to be with her and the children there was a jubilee at that little home of major proportion!

Unpacking the car the first thing he did was take his saxophone and put it in the back of a closest there to stay; he was finished chasing the dream, for he nearly lost a better one in the process. His children were too small back then to remember or know daddy had been a musician. So when I brought up the subject (which is better known as open mouth, insert foot) it was the first they had ever heard of his talent. I’m told later he sat the kids down and told them about his band days, but also how it was the best decision he ever made to stop playing the part time role of musical star and take up the full-time role of husband and dad. I understand the kids thought it was great and were a little amazed old dad wasn’t as boring as they thought! (Now how many of us have heard that?!!)

I’ve read this verse many times, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I used to believe that if I had a plan in my heart and dedicated it to God, it would come to fruition. It wasn’t until I realized just because it was my plan didn’t necessitate it was God’s and thus I started to see the picture  more clearly. Toil, hardship and setbacks can all be a part, but as long as I look to my Lord I knew He was with me and had a better design than I did. Or as one put it; “God’s plan will always be greater and more beautiful than all your disappointments.”

This “Traveler of the Rock Road,” T.J. learned that his greatest happiness wasn’t found on the world stage, it was on the living room floor playing Monopoly with his family while sharing a large bowl of popcorn. He’s dug out his sax and has gone back to playing with the town orchestra and is featured at nearly every performance, with his wife and children sitting in the front row cheering him on.

Now that’s a superstar if I’ve ever seen one!

See ya next time.


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One response

23 05 2017
Beverly Crane

So thankful that TJ saw the light. I have known men in my life that didn’t see the light until after they lost everything. If you have God in your life, the light will always be there. Thank you for another great story John. They always seem to hit home.

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