“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”Ecclesiastes 1:9
“See, I am doing a new thing!” Isaiah 43:19
I’ve often wondered how it is that professional musicians don’t get burned out on their own music. I know some of them do. I watched Lynyrd Skynyrd perform “Freebird” once, and it was painful to witness the band members’ listless expressions as they sleepwalked through the chords. Why aren’t all longtime musicians like that? How do some manage to keep it fresh?
I caught one of these still fresh performers earlier this week, and he closed his show with a statement of gratitude that reveals how it is after decades in the business, he still gets excited to perform music for people. After the final song of the night, the iconic Ben Harper said, “Thank you so much for being here tonight and injecting life into this music.” Isn’t that interesting? Ben Harper writes the music. He and his uber-talented band mates perform the music. But until you and I arrive and partake in the music, it’s just notes and words and melody. It’s like a seed – something with the potential for enormous beauty – but until it’s endowed with the energy of an audience, it is incomplete. And how does an old song, performed thousands of times over the course of twenty years, remain new? It is carried from place to place, performed before a new mix of people, and it is new again.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” On some level this is true. Every particle of matter in the universe has been around for billions of years. The universe has not been added to or subtracted from, and yet it continues to grow larger and more complex over the millennia. The creation poem in Genesis says “God created”, but that’s not the entire story, because it’s evident to those who are watching that Creation is still happening. Without the addition of a single atom, the universe continues to create new things. How can that be? I believe it comes from unity. When particles come together, they become something new. It starts with sub-atomic particles becoming atoms, and it keeps building from there.
Each time Ben Harper spoke to the audience at the show, I felt like he couldn’t quite find his words. This is probably because words don’t do well to describe the feeling you get when Creation is happening right in front of you. Every song performed that night had been played hundreds of times, some of them thousands, but it was all brand new because we were there together, a fresh mix of humanity, unified.
You want to make an old thing new again? Share it with someone else. If you want to make it truly unique, try sharing it with someone quite different from you.