The Rising

Tonight’s second post is one of my favorite songs from The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. I remember him saying he wrote “The Rising” as an anthem to latch onto after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. He wanted it to be an inspiration, a juxtaposition between what life was like before, during, and what it should feel like after such a horrible event.

“The Rising” is classic Springsteen. It’s simple instrumentation, it’s hard-driving rock rhythm and it’s inspirational lyrics. A commentary on pain and how there is always a way to rise up from it. To be better for it. And to love harder because of it.

I’ve often said, living wide is in the lessons you’re given and what you make of them. I often take to heart Springsteen’s reminder to see the opportunity through the hardship. Quite simply, it makes you better.

Shake It Out

Author’s Note:  For the sake of honesty, this blog post is helping me momentarily avoid my grad school homework… just so you know. Quite simply, it is the end of the semester, I’m over it, yet I have to press on. [Sigh….] Okay, pity party over. Carry on.

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When I first heard Florence + The Machine’s “Shake it Out,” I was knocked completely sideways… in a good way. Without boring you, I was going through a weird time. I had some things in my life I knew I needed to sever and purge, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let go, and I didn’t know why or how.

I promise, if you’re living through a moment like that, nothing will punch you in the gut faster than the lyrics from this song. Lines like, “Regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments,” or, “And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.” They make you face not only the enemy outside of you, but the enemy within yourself as well when you’re trying to live a wide life.

Darkness wants to keep you small. It wants to keep you limited. It wants to show you the boundaries and make you fear pushing past them. And what’s even scarier, it wants to prevent you from pushing past those feelings to things that are unknown, uncertain, strange, alluring and terrifying all at the same time. You want to pursue them, but you’re also courted by the comfort of your past… the safeness of the known versus the unknown.

The thing I try to remember is, if I ever feel burdened or heavy, if a situation ever makes me feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, then I am in the wrong place. The only person who should ever feel that is not of this plane. I shouldn’t feel that way. That’s not my job. I should feel more unencumbered, untethered. I should feel free, and I should feel free to feel free.

So here’s a question, what song releases you to feel like you are completely free?

Leap…

One of my favorite lyrics of all time is from Gavin DeGraw’s “Meaning,”

Sometimes our only way is jumping, I hope you’re not afraid of heights.

His words couldn’t be a more fitting tribute to the day that only comes once every four years, right? I know to some, Leap Day is nothing more than a calendar anomaly, a 24-hour period that has to be slotted in to insure the Gregorian calendar remains accurate. To me, however, Leap Day is an important reminder to live wide.

Think about it, we get a free day. A day that only comes along 25 times in a century. Even the name is an encouragement to gamble, to hurl yourself into a situation that promises both big risk and big returns.

Leaping is an immediate admission of a lack of fact. You’re in a moment where a decision is required. You haven’t got the time to survey the terrain. Evidence of viability is spotty at best. Options… are there any options? Basically, you’ve got limited knowledge, little recourse and factors that are pushing you to act and act NOW!

But, like Gavin said, sometimes it is our only way, fear of heights or no. I’ve had moments where leaping was it, and I simply had to have enough faith that, good, bad or indifferent, it was all going to work out. I can’t think of a more exhilarating beginning can you?

Holding Loose, Ain’t Letting Go

My first real journalism job was as an intern for a decently sized newspaper in northern Georgia. The staff was small, but they all shared the same passion, reporting the news of their community. One day, as I was transcribing some interviews, the lead photojournalist passed my desk. I had my Discman out and a stack of CDs sitting next to it (yes, I realize I’m dating myself here). At the top was a movie soundtrack, I don’t remember which one. As he breezed behind me, this somewhat grizzled shutterbug said, “You know, real life doesn’t come with a soundtrack.”

I was too green at the time to come up with a withering response like, “Oh yeah, well you dress funny.” I mean, how dare he question a 19-year-old’s taste in music when he wore the same black t-shirt to work… every day.  [Insert sarcasm here.] Instead, I simply smiled politely—I am southern after all—and thought, “Well my life does.”

And to this day, my life still does. I could name half a dozen songs right now that have been mile markers on my journey thus far, that every time I hear them, I can’t help but think of who I was in that moment. That’s what music is to me.

Recently, I was on a very long car trip. And as fortune, or good planning, would have it, I had an iPod full of music to keep me company. As I was driving along, a song I’ve heard dozens of times before came on – Matt Wertz’s “5:19.” When it cued, I couldn’t help but sing along – yes, I’m one of those people. It was then that a particular lyric struck me:

I’m holding loose, ain’t letting go.

That lyric bounced around in my brain for several days. What did it mean to hold loose, but not let go? Dreams occurred to me. When you walk the living wide life, dreams are very important. You have to have something to strive for, something to run toward. But God also occurred to me. When you’ve chosen to walk with God, you realize that free will isn’t a license to do absolutely anything you wish, it’s a choice. Every choice you make is between listening to your heart and letting God be your North Star, or being a slave to your desires. He holds loose, but never lets go.

In essence, He’s got you; you just have to take a page from His book. Hold your life loose, but don’t let go of what’s on your heart. Living wide is a very personal experience. God knows what you need and what you desire. He’s giving slack to that experience without ever letting go of the path He’s meant for you. To live wide, you have to take a page from His book… hold your dreams/goals loose but never let them go.

 

By the way, the half a dozen songs:

  • “Back to Life,” Soul II Soul, always reminds me of my two childhood best friends Kristi and Lisa
  • “End of the Road,” Boys II Men, was the jam when I went to the 8th grade dance with my first boyfriend
  • “(I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles,” The Proclaimers, a reminder of my freshman year of high school, when flannel and Chuck Taylors were cool
  • “1979,” Smashing Pumpkins, was playing as I drove to my high school graduation, and is subsequently the year I was born
  • “I Want You Back,” N’Sync, was on constant repeat during Spring Break 1998
  • “Shake It Out,” Florence + The Machine, was also on repeat this past summer when I had to make a hard choice.