I was thinking the other night that the sincerity of the success story's song is exceeded only by its rarity. The person who has, against all odds, pursued her dream and dragged it, kicking and screaming, into the studio, is completely justified in her enthusiasm: Keep your hopes alive, she says. Don't give up, she preaches. Have a dream, and make it a big one! she yells, pumping her fist. And the rationale for this argument, from her position, can't be faulted.
But what about the majority of the people in history who lived as they had to? What about (if I may) the rest of us, who lack the rare talent or opportunity, but entertain dreams just as bright and unrelenting? How long will it be until we taste the champagne of desire fulfilled: write the book, get the part, make the team, win the girl--and sing that victory song?
I think, in various forms, this is a question that has haunted most of the world for most of its history. When will I sing that song?--the one that soars, the one that winners sing? Or will I ever? For the time being, we hum a different tune, and the chorus runs, How long, how long, how long?
Will I ever author a book, and earn the leisure to write chilling and imaginative things? When will I have enough money not to worry? Will I ever travel to the Alps? When will I get my share of beauty? When will my own, particular, ridiculously-nuanced dream be realized?
Questions like this hold an element of drama--an adventure that just might turn out right--but the spice of suspense dries up as years accrue. Something else happens as well, something unexpected. Occasionally, dreams materialize (but this is not the unexpected thing): Authorship, or travel, or wealth does arrive. But the original question does not go away. We are still singing, How long? even though 'good times' have come. We look at the trappings of happiness and realize we did not really understand this melody at all.
This is when Christ steps in.
Other gods give their own answers re: the Victory Song, but the Christian God says, "It doesn't matter if you sing it now or later--I give no special preference to this life. In fact, those who have their dreams denied down here may be better off in the end. They won't mistake their amenities for real happiness. And at last, the ones who love me will be singing out: affirming the beauty of hope and faith against all odds; and some who think they have it now will find themselves sadly lacking."
"About that victory song," God says, "you may begin to hum it now. And if you do, I hope you understand the melody. But in the end, all my children will sing out. And that old chorus line that you hum now, that 'How long?' It will no longer have a meaning."