New Year

Music, My Muse: Shake It Out

It’s New Year’s Eve 2012 and I am so excited to have no plans. I’m not even sure I’ll make it to midnight, and that’s fine by me. When I was young, this night was fraught with so much pressure, so much expectation. And it was usually a letdown.  The Christmas break is coming to an end, and I’ve had my share of over indulgences—food, drink, sleep… And now that our vacation, our “long winters’ nap”, is coming to a close, I feel I am entering the “winter of my discontent”.

This is a time to be reflective. To look back on the past year and evaluate the good, the bad, the expected. And whenever I reflect, I run the risk of becoming overwhelmed with regret and fear. There are always regrets. My most recent is having too much to drink at a holiday party on Friday night—another reason I’m glad to be home tonight, and soberly writing this piece. Then there is fear. Just looking back at the past few weeks, with tragedies both near and far, it’s a daily, conscious effort not to let fear rule our lives—if we did, we’d never get out of bed.

Overall, I had a wonderful holiday. I got to catch up with a lot of old friends. I received wonderful gifts from my family. I am lucky. And that makes me fearful, which in turn makes me regret that I am not being “present in the moment”. Yeah, you get it—it’s a vicious cycle.

About a month ago, I talked about the fact that music and song lyrics are such a source of nourishment for my soul. I said I was going to feature some of the songs that were inspirational to me as I set out to write this blog. Tonight, on this, the cusp of a brand new year, I feel it fitting to share with you my second installment of Music, My Muse:

Shake It Out, by Florence and the Machine 

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

Why is it that the regrets in our lives, the creatures that make up our darker moments, become like old friends to us? We spend so much time with them. We visit with them often. And in some cases, we never let them leave. It really is like living among ghosts. Their presence is always lurking, and they certainly know how to toy with us. They play around—at our expense! And as long as they are here, it truly is impossible to see a way out.

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around

Now, if you’ve ever read my blog, then you know I am a Fool—with a capital F, and I’ve certainly been blind– by anger, by shame, by resentment. And I struggle with the past. Writing is my humble attempt to make peace with my past. I once heard the expression that “past is present.” I think as I get older, I understand that more. Unless we come to terms with our past, unless we put it in a healthy perspective, then it will always hold a claim on our present. We never truly move away from the past if we live in a world of regret and fear, of anger and shame. The horse image in the last line of this stanza did not click with me at first. But as I thought about it more, I found it rather fitting. A horse is difficult to tame. A horse needs constant attention and copious amounts of our time. The horse equals our past, and unless we tame it, it will never stop demanding or time and attention.

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woaaah

This is my favorite part of the song. We probably all have a devil on our back, or as I seem to operate, a different devil every few weeks. Just think about all the devil‘s floating around  this time of year–the time of New Year’s resolutions. The devil of weight, the devil of finding a lover, paying a mortgage, giving up a vice, ending a bad relationship, finding a job…Devils. All Devils. But, you know what my resolution is going to be this year? Shaking off the devil! Yeah, that’s right. Eff him! I want to spend more time living–I couldn’t bring myself to say dancing–and I can do that much better without a damn devil on my back.

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat

For the past decade or so, I have tried to put my life in perspective. Becoming a husband and a father forced me to seek understanding within myself. Now that I am writing about my experience, I feel I am damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. Whenever someone searches for meaning there will certainly be hardship–suffering. But there is also hope! Hope of coming out on the other side more complete. I am ready to hope.

And I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
‘Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

I feel the graceless heart is the heart that refuses to love, the heart that won’t allow one to experience pure love.  I’m working on that, for sure. I do images (3)believe  that we can’t love others unless we love ourselves. That may sound hokey to you, but there is no way around it. If you are having trouble with loving the people in your life, I would imagine you are not truly loving yourself.  And tonight, as I’ve done many times before, I am going to cut out the parts that are preventing me from feeling my best, from loving myself unconditionally.  And with the beginning of another year, I am going to then restart. My issues– and your issues– will always be present in our lives, but there is always light. There is always the hope of a new dawn, a new day, a new year. So, whatever devils you are dealing with, I wish you much luck and strength as you try to reconcile with them in 2013. You’re welcome to join me as I try to “shake it out”. Happy New Year!

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa

PS: It’s 12:15. Goodnight!

Advertisements

Happy Everything!

Whatever holiday you may be celebrating this time of year–or not–I hope that you are able to enjoy some special time with the people you care about. There certainly have been many hardships this past year, but let us try to remember all of the kindness and wonder this world still has to offer. Once again, let children serve as our reminder to embrace the simpler joys in life. For each of us, my wish is the kind of genuine laughter that these two elves–I mean, boys–below seem to bring out in each other. May you continue to cultivate love and joy in your little corner of the world, and I will try to do the same here. Happy Everything! Dadicus

photo (15) (1)