YESTERYEAR with Joshua Graham

outdoor-sepiaThis photo makes me contemplative…

It’s hard to believe that this picture was taken twelve years ago, when I was still giving concerts as a cellist. The fact is, I used to play professionally as a soloist, recitalist, chamber, and orchestral musician. I’ve been blessed to have performed in Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, in the Cairo Royal Opera House, and in concert halls in South Africa, Israel, and Amaan Jordan (the latter a televised command performance by the Queen of Jordan.)

But in all those years as a musician, I never knew or dreamed that my life would take me through a long and winding path to where I am today (a professional writer, and author of thriller novels.)

I actually spent about 13 years in the IT industry after graduating with a doctorate in music from Johns Hopkins University. This was mainly to support my family, while I performed and taught cello on the side. But soon after I became a father, I realized that it was not going to be feasible to continue both concertizing and working at a full time corporate job, and spend enough time with my children.

The choice wasn’t too difficult to make, because I felt such a strong love for my kids. That’s why I let the concertizing go and focused on supporting and being there for my family.

But it seemed my creative side would not be so easily put to pasture.  Soon, I became interested in writing and made my first professional sale to an anthology published by Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books.

This is where one would usually say, the rest was history, except my own character arc and development had only just begun. Soon after I decided I wanted to become a professional writer as my ultimate career, my company for which I’d worked for almost a decade, decided to outsource my entire department to Bangalore and I found myself without any work or means of supporting my family.

Suffice it to say, there were many days of prayer and digging deep into my faith. If God is the good and all powerful God I believe Him to be, then did it make sense to despair? I’ll tell you this: my head and my heart had some work getting into alignment. But that’s what faith is, isn’t it? The hope for things unseen.

Within a couple of years of unemployment (with a short stint at a better job than the one I’d lost), I became a published author with my debut novel BEYOND JUSTICE. I had no idea how it would do in the market, and I can only say that it was divine providence that it received accolades from Publishers Weekly, Suspense Magazine, and hit #1 on several Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestseller lists.  A little while later, Simon & Schuster/Howard books offered me a contract for my second thriller DARKROOM (just last year).

Sometimes, if when I feel uncertain, I look back and realize that though my life has had its ups and downs, it’s always been protected and provided for by a loving Creator, who knows exactly what I’m meant to do and be.

Last night, as I listened to a recording of a Brahms Trio performed by Isaac Stern, Leonard Rose, and Eugene Istomin, my heart felt homesick for the musical life I once had. Maybe one day, I’ll return to the concert stage and play all the beautiful masterpieces I used to. But for now, I am counting my blessings: I have a loving family (a beautiful wife and exceptional kids), amazing friends and–I daresay, fans, I’m a full-time writer doing another thing I love doing. Truly my cup runneth over.

I’ve recently learned that we need to speak to our souls the truth. Not about the present circumstances, but about the blessings we actually have, and the One in Whom we can put our absolute trust.

I can already see how everything in my life has happened for a purpose higher than I can understand.  But I know that it has already begun to make sense and will continue to do so until the ultimate reveal–the understanding of what it was all about.

In closing, let me leave you with a passage of scripture that has always helped me trust in God’s master plan:

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

–Isaiah 55:8-11

What kind of path has your life taken though the years? I’d love to know about it. Feel free to share in the comments section below.


PS: If you’d like to hear some of my cello playing, please click the play button at the very bottom of this page.

Joshua Graham is a USA Today bestselling author, Winner of the International Book Award and Forward National Literature Award. His thrillers include DARKROOM and BEYOND JUSTICE, and TERMINUS. Graham's works have been characterized as thought-provoking page-turners.

Legal Notice: All information on this website and blog are from Mr. Graham's personal experience and insight and should not be viewed in any way, directly or inferred, as qualified professional advice.
  • Rick Rhodes

    You ask about our life circle. Whew. Where to begin. When I was young, my mother often talked about how I’d sit in the barber chair and sing songs to entertain all the people in the barbershop. In 1st or 2nd Grade I performed in school plays, including one in front of the whole PTA. Somewhere along the line though, society beat that out of me. Perhaps it convinced me I wasn’t good enough,
    or perhaps I convinced myself of that. Whichever happened, I became a full introvert. However, growing up I often, I realized the
    other day, found my creativity manifesting itself through my playtime. I’d make up stories and intricate plots with my action figures. But that tends to fall by the wayside as we grow out of playing with toys. I also had a love for art, drawing, painting, etc. but at some point convinced myself I wasn’t good enough.

    Then as I recently realized, it manifested itself again when I discovered computers, and the idea of designing video games. Once again I found myself creating elaborate worlds, creatures, and situations. However, as often happens, I had to go off to college. My parents, knowing I’d never be able to be in physical type jobs, encouraged me to pursue mental based pursuits, such as programming. Game Programming, my dad was convinced would never pay me a decent living, so he pushed me into business programming, which indeed did pay a handsome salary. When I lost my programming job though, and couldn’t pursue another to health issues, I began to look for other pursuits to keep my mind sharp. I took a course in web design, which re-awakened the creative monster raging inside of me. Then during a high school reunion, it was suggested I write.

    I took numerous writing classes, wrote some short pieces, and actually had some articles published in a charity paper for the homeless. I still pursue writing as a hobby at this time. Then a few months ago, I began looking at my old guitar. I’d had her since I was 16 and never learned to play. She’s got such a beautiful sound, and I started thinking, something that beautiful deserves to be played, not just sit around as a decoration. So I broke down, and decided to do something I never thought I could do. I took guitar lessons. I found out I enjoyed it, and I didn’t totally suck at it. I also noticed that many of the roadblocks I put into my own way. I told myself I couldn’t play guitar, and found out I could. Then I told myself I’d never be able to do chords, then I found out I was wrong about that. Now I’m at the point where I’m comfortable knowing that I may not be able to do it today, or tomorrow, or the next day, but I will be able to at some point, unless I quit trying. So my journey has come full circle it seems and I’m backing to allowing myself to enjoy the creative part of my being.

    Now I just regret all the years I could have been enjoying these pursuits but let the practical override the sense of enjoyment.

    • joshuagraham

      Thanks for sharing, Rick. I’m glad to know that you’re looking to your innate gifts and to the things that give you joy. Sometimes we need to gain some distance from our past before we can move into our future.

  • Cheryl Singer

    This speaks from the heart, so touching it made me want to cry. Thank You Joshua

    • joshuagraham

      Thanks Cheryl. I’m happy to share, and I hope that people can find some encouragement from it.


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