Well...did NOT see that coming

I guess that title could be aptly applied to all of us as 2020 begins it’s fade in our rear-view mirror.   I can say without a doubt that this time last year (2 March 2020), a pandemic and its impact on the world and yes me personally did not even come close to making my list of a thousand concerns, plans, and things I would need to “prepare” for going into the new year.  Not. Even. Close.  But here we are.  Here I am. 

So as 2021 dawns with all its hope and promise of perhaps finally shedding the nightmare of 2020, I’m writing this from the bed of an ICU where I’ve been fighting tooth and nail to overcome my battle with COVID-19 and the resulting pneumonia that left me a few hours away from needing a ventilator before a team of very skilled nurses, doctors (and if you ask me some divine intervention) turned the ship around and finally got my lungs producing enough oxygen to prevent my body from shutting down.  I don’t smoke.  I eat healthy.  I do CrossFit 4-5 times a week.  The virus is real and while seemingly affects everyone different, for me it kicked my ass.  With a vengeance! 

So...what?  Well, I’m not sure exactly.  Like me sitting in this ICU ward I’m left scratching my head kind of in a fog about how I never saw this coming.  Any of it. Certainly not last year and the emotional toll it took on me personally and all the “plans” I had. Definitely not me sitting in a pressurized room waiting on a very unsatisfying cheeseburger to show up from the hospital cafeteria.  I guess, it’s not so much “so what,” but rather “so what next?”   This is what’s on my mind, at least today. 

Plans, we all make them. Even the most unorganized of my friends and family has a vague idea where they’re going at the macro level.  I know conceptually I can have a vision and then take whatever steps I perceive are needed to make my “plan” come to fruition. Simple stuff really.  Decide, plan, commit.  However, after 53 years I’m starting to realize the bigger the plans, the more time and resources are required and that has an exponential effect on me actually accomplishing those plans. I for one think we need to have plans.  Hell, let’s just label them goals.  Goals require plans.  Our goals and the plans that go with them are probably as unique as each of us individually. New career, bigger more expensive whatever, starting a family, losing weight and on and on.  We all are either creating plans based on an innate drive or we are subject to an external influence we think we have no control over.  Regardless, the outcome is the same.  We put marks on the wall and call it a plan and march forward.  What unites us however is the reality that none of us really have total control over a damn thing we plan.  We are subject to outside or external influences on our plans. 

So here I am back in ICU thinking about this time last year when I just finished recording my second album under the “Colt Weston” stage name.  I’d convinced myself something about that album would open doors and opportunity I was so eager to take advantage of.  It was after all a declaration of my love for God.  Boom, plan in place.  “Here God look at this cool thing I did to glorify your name.  Now please show me where to go get cool stuff and do awesome things. Oh yeah, your welcome.”   It didn’t work out that way. Duh.  Now look, don’t go blaming me for 2020, but I honestly believe God used last year as a big giant mirror for me.  In hindsight it’s apparent my plans really were about me.  For me.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t make plans for ourselves, but do it with honesty.  I was calling my own selfish ambition something it wasn’t.  Love for God.  Oh I love the big guy in the sky for sure, just not more than me.  And that’s a problem.  So fast forward to March 2021... 

I’m working on honesty.  It’s been coming for a while.   I’ve still got a long way to go.  Part of that honesty is simply admitting I don’t have control of my plans.  I can take steps to influence their likelihood of success, but I’m not God and that means I simply don’t get to decide if my plans come true or if they’ll look like they did in my head when or if they come to fruition. Step one in my journey towards honesty was to kill “Colt Weston.”   He served his purpose and now he’s dead.  I am not Colt Weston, I’m Phil Tittle.  I play guitar “okay” on most days.  I fight like hell to stay on pitch and in key when I sing.  I struggle to write songs that are from my heart and ignore the “trends” because that’s what gets you “noticed.”  I can honestly say today I could care less about being noticed.  I care about developing my craft and working like hell to make music that someone out there needs to hear because like me they are broken and need hope.  That’s my new truth.  But, I’m not stupid. I know how easy it is to lose sight of that the first time someone sings my praise.  It’s easy to make it about me.  So back to the plan... 

I plan to keep seeking the truth.  My truth.  I plan to look at opportunities like the one that landed me in ICU to ask God, “how do I use this?”   “What do I take away from it?” I  also plan to simply commit to using these musical gifts, limited as they are at times to serving something greater than myself.  And I plan to make a whole bunch of mistakes and bad decisions along the way.  I guess my plan going into 2021 is to simply not get carried away with making “plans.”   If I have a plan at all it’s to simply grow.  Grow as a musician, a man of faith, and just as an overall better human being.  It’s a tall order really, but life’s a journey, right? But you want to hear the upside of all this?  Not all of those outside influences on our plans are bad! 

Yep, the same God that can use a pandemic to derail my plans and show me how deceitful I had been to myself with my misguided ambitions is the same God capable of producing wonderful surprises and opportunities never dreamed or imagined.  It happens all the time and in most instances it happens when the focus of our energies are not on ourselves.  So yeah, I’m pursuing truth this year and leaning harder than ever into my God to show me the way.  And I’m doing it with no expectations beyond meeting cool people and learning new stuff! 

I will release a seven song album in the coming weeks titled “The Truth in Me.”  Aside from a fun love song to kick it off, most of these songs all deal with some aspect of the truth. The truth in who we are, all of it, the good and bad.  A couple were resurrected from earlier Colt albums (Colt wasn’t a terrible songwriter) and a few new ones.  Perhaps one of my favorites on the album is a song I wrote about a man who has come to a place where he accepts he’s broken.  He pleads with God to fix him or bring him home so he can quit wasting everyone’s time.  And it’s in that moment he discovers that’s where God needs him before he can use him, to simply be aware he’s broken.  Yeah, I get chills sometimes at my own prophetic lyrics since I wrote this song about ten months ago.  Regardless, it’s kind of where I find myself today.  Here’s the lyrics to the last verse for the song “Broken:” 

Maybe I’ve been cast aside with all these feelings 

Left standing in the barren desert all alone 

I’ve given up on trying to find some righteousness reason 

So if your through with me, could you just bring me home? 

Then I close my eyes to pray and I hear you gently say 

You’ve reached a place to set my plan in motion 

I can’t fix the man ‘till he knows that he’s broken 

Y’all be good to one another.  Go find your truth.  I promise if you look deep inside yourself with love and honesty, it’s probably glaringly obvious.  We unfortunately live in a world that wants to deny us of our truth and replace it with someone else’s truth.  The job, the money, the power, all things that sound great but most of us at our core know the truth goes beyond this if we want happiness.  I’ll be out on the road more this year I hope (again, my plan so not holding my breath) pursuing my truth.  I hope I see some of y’all out there pursuing yours. Love y’all and thanks for all the encouragement and support as always!  Peace.