Monday, December 1, 2008


Today is the two year anniversary of losing my son Roe. I feel compelled to write something regarding the matter. In looking back over the last two or three years and all of the things which have transpired it is easy for me to sometimes get down. Feelings of depression and sadness over regrets and bad luck constantly plague my thoughts. It has been said by many of you, even on this blog, that I have the worst luck in the world... though I don't totally agree with that, it does seem sometimes that were it not for bad luck I would have no luck. I know that everyone has rough patches and hard times. It's part of life. I think what makes us the best possible version of ourselves is making it through the hard times in the right way. I figured I would share one of my strategies with you. I have a little playlist on my Ipod which I have played over and over and over again since my divorce... I know some of you would quickly get tired of the same 4 songs, but I have found them to be very uplifting. I call it "Smile" (Cheesy? I know. Am I embarrassed? No) I have taken the time to explain each song and what I think it is saying. I am not really interested in what the author actually meant by it or intended when he or she wrote this song, these are simply my interpretations. Enjoy:

I always listen to this song first. The singer is talking about how he feels like he is not worth anything, he can't seem to get "it" right and is therefore in his own eyes a "hopeless case" (I know it sounds depressing, but ride it out) He says, "I have this feeling inside that I wouldn't like me if I met me. seems like a losing fight, if you could see it through my eyes, then you'd believe me." The song continues and he talks about how he's "self-destructive", "insecure", "out of focus", andLink how "anything he touches can be broken". I don't know about you, but I feel like this all the time, I'm filled with doubt about who I am and what I am worth. There are hundreds of songs that preach this same message, and we all can relate. This song has a different twist to it however, which is why I like it so much. The singer is not just lamenting his own low self esteem. He is actually singing to someone else, a loved one or a friend. He cries out, "The truth is that I've had enough, but you still help me, You! You hear the words that I say, You just tell me my hearts in the right place, it's the world that's confused, and it's never too late to save a hopeless case." It's the down-on-himself singer that I am relating to. I'm sitting there feeling sorry for myself, and then he goes and thanks someone for caring about and believing in him. I love this because it forces me to remember all of the people in my life who love me. Especially those who love me in spite of "me." Who see me differently than I see myself. The people who never give up on me. My family, my friends, the people that I truly love. It also reminds me that when I have a friend feeling down and like things are hopeless for them that its NEVER too late for me to save a hopeless case.

I can seldom hear this song with out belting it out at the top of my lungs. Which usually spawns ridicule from my male comrades and swooning adoration from females lucky enough to view the event. Though I don't mind the attention, my love for this song goes deeper than the entertainment value singing it provides. The very first line gives a lot of perspective. "I know this pain" which is then repeated with "I know that there is pain." Its really easy for me to think nobody knows what I am going through, that no one can relate, that my life is worse than anyone else's... and that is just simply not true, and it never will be. There are so many people on this planet, living now, and that have lived, and that will live that really its ridiculous for me to think my journey is exclusive. My favorite part of "Hold On" is that it also points out that the way I deal with the "pain" is my choice. "Why do you lock yourself up in these chains? Don't ever let anyone step all over you." and "You've got no one to blame for your unhappiness. You got yourself into your own mess." and "Don't you think it's worth your time to change your mind?" I am so quick to look to others to blame my unhappiness on, she did that or he said this... no one can make me feel anything. I can choose to be happy regardless of my circumstances, whether or not I made the decision or someone else made the decision that got me into that circumstance. Then the chorus which speaks for itself. "I know that there is pain, butcha hold on for one more day and you break free, break from the chains... Don't you know things can change? Things can go your way if you hold on for one more day." Making that choice to be happy is a daily thing. Making it one day at a time, holding on to that choice is what gets me through the toughest of times.

As well as being an incredibly catchy and fun to listen to song, the writing and message in "Move Along" is very poetic and has many small lessons in it. "Go ahead as you waste your days with thinking." Worrying is not the way to get trough trouble. "When you fall everyone sins." Yep, everyone. I'm not perfect and not expected to
be. "Another day and you've had your fill of sinking." Despair and sadness is very real and reaches us all. "Your hands are shaking, cold. These hands are meant to hold, speak to me." This journey through life is not meant to be traversed alone. I need to share it with others. Then the chorus hits. "When all you've got to keep is strong, move along, move along like I know you do. And even when your hope is gone, move along, move along just to make it through." What does move along mean? Well, to me it means that I just need to keep doing, to keep living, to press forward. I really like that they say "Even when your hope is gone." Because that happens! Life deals me some pretty tough cards sometimes, but giving up is never the way to "make it through." I find that when my hope is gone that is when I think that my trial is permanent. Funny thing is, when I look back, in retrospect, at other trials in my life, I can see that is never true... but when I'm smack in the middle of a terrible situation it is really hard to see the truth. The truth is, like in "Hold On" that eventually I will make it through, and things will change. Remembering that truth while trouble is abound is the key to surviving it. If, "when all [I've] got to keep is strong, move along." "and even when [my] hope is gone, move along." "when everything is wrong, move along." - just to make it through, and I will.

This song is a little different then the other three, and I always like to finish with it. The message in the first three songs read like a self help book, with common sense messages that we sometimes have a hard time remembering in times of travesty. They are ambiguous and general. Whereas "Believe" tells a very specific story while still relaying a powerful message. It also has a cool electric-violin that I love. This is a post 9/11 story, written one year after the terrorist attacks. The singer talks about the hero who despite the calamity of that day chose to put his life at peril to save others including the singer. The story tells how the hero did not make it, and yet the singer did. The singer starts paying tribute to this hero "Think about the love inside the strength of heart. Think about the hero saving life in the dark. Climbing higher through the fire, time was running out. Never knowing you weren't going to be coming back alive... but you still came back for me. You were strong and you believed." Explaining this as a metaphor for life is too easy, and on the surface this seems like a simple telling of the heroic acts of that day and its aftermath. The chorus is the hero comforting the singer as he saves him, "everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be alright, be strong believe!" Here is where the song gets really good. (I must warn you, for the most part my blog is free from religious commentary, but I think it's important to share how I really feel here.) The story goes - singer lives, and the hero dies. The singer laments, "Think about the chance I never had to say thank you for giving up your life that day." Then the singer tells of the effect that the hero's sacrifice made on him. "I wanna hold my wife when I get home. I wanna tell the kids they'll never know, how much I love to see them smile. I wanna make a change right here, right now. I wanna live a life like you somehow. I wanna make your sacrifice worthwhile!" The chorus repeats, this time the singer is telling himself how he can accomplish the change and follow the hero's example, "everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be alright, be strong believe!" If the fact that these attacks actually happened and what a horrible experience that was isn't enough to bring clarity to my problems. Then I listen to this story, and I am reminded of another hero, one who sacrificed himself for me. I gotta tell you that I believe in Jesus Christ. I know that he lived and I know that he died for me. I know that he took my sins upon himself, and I know that he has felt every pain and sorrow that I will ever encounter. Like the hero in this song, he never feared, he only heard my voice calling out. He showed me how to act, and what the love inside the strength of heart is. He let it all go and sacrificed everything for me. All the while telling me that everything is going to be alright, to be strong and believe. No matter what I am going through, remembering his example helps me remember how much I love my family and others, it makes me want to change who I am, and it makes me want to make his sacrifice worthwhile. I can think of no other message which better teaches me how to treat others, and how to make it through anything life can dish out to me. No matter what I'm going through I can feel him urging me on "everything's gonna be alright, be strong, believe."

This cheesy little playlist has seen me through many a difficult times, especially in the last couple of years. I'm certain many of you could make your own playlists that would probably be better and more profound. This works for me though and makes it very difficult for me to have a bad day. Feel free to borrow it till you can make your own. Or, if you don't like the songs just remember the following things.

It's never too late to save a hopeless case.
Things'll change if you hold on for one more day.
Move along, move along just to make it through.
Everything is gonna be alright, be strong believe.

John Maxim