James has always marched to a different drummer. Actually, he danced to a different music. Even as a child, he would tap dance down the isles of the grocery store, or Wal Mart, or anywhere we were—in public—while his brothers went somewhere else so as not to be perceived as being related to him. He didn’t do this to show off, mind you. He was just a dancer, lost in the world of music and movement.
In his teen years, James came across a quote that became sort of a life-driver for him. He told me one day, “If I will spend a few years doing what no one else will do, I will spend the rest of my life doing what no one else can do.”
Not long ago I phoned James and got his voice mail. I heard him say…
“Hey, this is James. I’m probably dancing right now, or doing something else amazingly fun, so leave a message…”
When I heard these words, I felt that something had gone terribly right!
When I finally did reach James, I asked him about the voice mail message and he made a comment I will never forget.
“Dad,” he said, “In my whole life I think I’ve known only three people who are actually doing what they love doing instead of what other people think they should be doing.” When he named the three, he included himself.
Think about this: How would you like your children to grow up and be able to tell you they are doing exactly what they should be doing? What else could they say that would make you more proud of them and think, just maybe, you had done a good job of parenting?
But if you are an adult, how would you like to be able to say to James, “The reason you only know three is that you haven’t yet met me!”
Unfortunately, I have met people all over the world who are not doing what they should be doing.
If you aren’t sure what I mean by “what they should be doing”, you will understand as you read this book. I hope you find yourself being convinced that you really can do what you should be doing. And, until you are doing what you should be doing, you will continue to live someone else’s life instead of your own. You may even be good at living someone else’s life, but it will never be your life. You will continue to be unfulfilled and always have that gnawing feeling that you are taking someone else’s path to a place you were never intended to go.
By the way, what does James mean when he says, “I’m probably dancing right now or doing something else amazingly fun”? It means that, after doing many other things in life that our culture might consider more “respectable”, he has been willing to accept that he is never happier or feels more fulfilled than when he is dancing. Can a “real man”—and a really spiritual man at that—also be a great dancer? Meet James Davis who is an inspiration to a lot of people, including his Dad.
This book is dedicated to those who are doing what they should be doing and to those who want to move in that direction. I hope you are encouraged and inspired as you read of the people I’ve known.
I will warn you that I am not going to avoid controversy in writing this book. I think some things need to be said about an increasing narcissism and self-centeredness in our society. Narcissism and self-centeredness are not what this book is about. This book is about ordinary human beings, in relationships with one another, finding the freedom—and giving one another the permission—to be all they were created to be.
Write and tell me your own story: How did you discover that you were (or were not) living your own life and what are you doing about it?