The Pretender

The first time I heard Jackson Browne’s “The Pretender”, I didn’t think much of it. I bought the used CD because I enjoy his best known album, “Running on Empty”.

But after one late night study session at the University of Utah, I headed down interstate 15 in my Acura Integra. It was the first car I owned that came with a CD player. I decided to give the Pretender another shot.

I didn’t think much of it until I began pulling up the street to my apartment, and I heard this amazing piano accompany these lyrics:

Say a prayer for the pretender?

Are you there for the pretender?

Say a prayer for the pretender.

Oh, are you there for the pretender?

Are you prepared the pretender?

That voice and the lyrics and that piano. I couldn’t stop listening so I drove past my apartment and continued down Orchard Drive until I was back on the interstate. It didn’t matter where. All that mattered was that I had to hear this song over and over, and the only CD player I owned was attached to this car.

I’ve heard Jackson Browne describe what influenced him to write the Pretender. But I interpreted differently. I didn’t have enough experience behind me at the time to feel like I’d abandoned my dreams for a life of commercialism.

My interpretation was simple: I was a pretender.

I was going through the motions at school, in my marriage, in my church calling and most of my friendships. Giving just enough to each to keep them alive but not enough to keep them off life support. I was a pretender.

I hid behind the facade of busy. It wasn’t difficult to look like I had my act together. I had little free time so I must be accomplishing something, right? Each day was filled with classes, studying, work and more studying. But I was a pretender.

Is there an age where one wakes up feeling like an adult? I assumed that would happen when I graduated from college? Or maybe when I got married or the first job that came with an office and business cards? Certainly it would happen once I became a father?

With age comes experience. Trials provide opportunities to mature. I’m not as stupid and naive as I was the night drove through Salt Lake listening to Jackson Browne.

Nobody has pulled back the curtain to expose how little I know and how often I act like I know what I’m doing when, in reality, I have no idea.

I’ve even come to terms with the fact that there are times where all I can do is pretend to know what I’m doing. 

For example, when Kim asks me select church outfits for our daughters. Or when Anna asked me why some guys have boobs.

Say a prayer for the pretender.

3 thoughts on “The Pretender

  1. Wow! I'm a 55-year-old wife, mother, grandmother, legal secretary, Relief Society President–and a PRETENDER. When you figure it out, give me a clue, will you?


  2. when i was younger, i always thought that people who were the age i am now had all their crap together. the older i get, the more i realize they were just faking it, like we all are. making it up as we go along. wouldn't it have been nice if they had told us that? maybe they did…i tell people i am making it up as i go all the time, but they don't seem to believe me. i love this post. mostly because i feel less alone. it's nice to know other people have chinks in their armor. thanks, yoda-errr-brett!


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