Sunday, March 23, 2014

Existential crises and the one-hit wonder

A friend of mine mentioned 80s one-hit wonders on Facebook. One hundred thirty-three comments later, a group of us had quite the playlist. A combination of the sublime and the truly regrettable.

As my lazy Sunday night due diligence, I was googling to make sure my suggestions were truly 80s songs--time and again I saw that the "one-hit" artist(s) had multiple albums but for one reason or another, only one song had sunken in with a wide audience.

Some of these artists are still touring--mostly county fairs and smaller venues. Countless times they probably tried out something new, to hear a grumbling crowd holler "What's this $#!%?  Play what we came for!" Or do they just do that one song, in some crazy extended remix?

Have you ever had a point in your life when you felt like you were only known for ONE thing? Perhaps it was an academic achievement or some other performance or triumph of your own. Maybe it was a horrid failure or major embarassing moment.  Perhaps it was one component of your identity.  A single adjective or noun that can overshadow everything else--whether or not the role is permanent.

When I had my sons, suddenly I was "the twins' mom." As much as I had wanted my children, and as much as I loved the little guys,the invisibility of the rest of me was soul-sucking. Jordinn Nelson Long wrote recently about this 'mommyhood' trap.

Organizations, too, can get caught in the trap of the one-hit wonder, of the singular identity.  A church or a group does something amazing (or amazingly ludicrous.) It may be something from thirty years ago. But the narrative is overwhelming--the one thing people remember, and all goes through that filter. 

We all contain multitudes.  But getting those stories told as well?  That involves some excavation. The breaking free takes energy, courage, and time.

(To be continued...)

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