kurt cobain and the elusive green sweater

If there is anything I know – it’s that artists are insecure. I remember when Kurt Cobain made insecurity fashionable with his slouchy, second-hand cardigan. That sweater sent hoards of insecure, angst-ridden, middle-class teenage boys on pilgrimage in search of the perfect replica. It had to be from Goodwill. It had to be dirty enough to make you nervous about wearing it the first couple of times. And it needed to be a really terrible color. The sort of color that one might find in the baby food aisle of the grocery store. The real gems were pea green or that weird 1970’s mustard-brown-yellow. Anyone lucky enough to find one that had recently been removed from a dead senior citizen was instantly made the lead singer and principle songwriter in the band. Ahhh yes, the early 90’s, when all you needed to cover up your insecurities and start writing your own songs was a pea-green cardigan and a crappy attitude. I never had any trouble with the attitude, but I could never find the sweater, which is why I spent my formative years playing drums.

The times have changed, but the issues of the heart have not. Insecurity is a real killer when it comes to songwriting. It causes us to mistrust ourselves and everything that we make, which is why so many of us have such a hard time finishing anything – by the time we’re half-way through we have turned such a harsh, critical eye to our work that we no longer have the strength to finish. After all, why work so hard on such “junk”?

Insecurity also makes us hyper-critical of others. The only thing easier than beating up our own attempts at writing is setting our pain on everyone else. Competition and comparison are two of the major tributaries of insecurity. The tragedy is that these toxic rivers kill community – and community is one of the key ingredients in developing a creative culture where expression thrives.

We are all wearing our insecurities like Goodwill cardigan sweaters – unflattering layers that cover and conceal our true selves. It’s time to take these fashion faux pas to the dumpster.

Today, we should have an honest conversation with God. Allow him to speak his word over all your fears and insecurities – especially those that have caused your creative muscles to atrophy.

A prayer for today:

Father, I’m letting go of fear.
I’m letting go of comparison and competition.
You are my security.
I am who you say I am.