My daughter has always liked the song, ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons. I’ve liked it too; singing along with her when it came on, bopping to the beat. It’s a fun song and hard not to move to.
I do not know the lyrics to ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons.
I do not know the lyrics to most of the songs I sing along to on the radio, but it does not slow me down from singing what I think they’re saying.
I thought in ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman she was saying ‘I had a feeling I could pee some more, pee some more, pee some more…’, when in actuality she is saying ‘I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone….‘ Granted I was 7 and the giggles from my 5 year old brother in the back of the red Aerostar were likely the genesis of the misnomer, but it still is hard not to sing about her having to pee whenever the tune comes on.
‘She Drives Me Crazy’ by Fine Young Cannibals says :
She drives me crazy
Like no one else
She drives me crazy
And I can’t help myself
She drives me crazy
That long, blonde hair
She drives me crazy
And I can’t ever tell
I even looked it up because I didn’t believe him. Denis never gets the lyrics right. But he did. All my life I thought it was a song about a deceptive blonde.
Paul Pena’s ‘Jet Airliner’ cover by The Steve Miller Band says :
Big ol’ jet airliner
Don’t carry me too far away
Oh, big ol’ jet airliner
‘Cause it’s here that I’ve got to stay
I never sang the words ‘big ol’ jet airliner‘. I just sang something that phonetically made sense in the moment. I sang nonsensical things like ‘We-ho-der-er-layner‘. He’s literally singing the title of the song and I never heard it.
We all have our ways of justifying the things that we do without a need to fix them. If it’s comfortable, and it’s always worked, we tend to not question it.
‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons has stood the test of time with my daughter. She still sings it and has recently grown more attached to it. She taught me the lyrics the other night in bed and I listened for the first time :
First things first
I’ma say all the words inside my head
I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been
I am fired up, ya’ll. And I’ma say all the words inside my head.
What I have witnessed from humanity this year has been so disappointing. I know there are exceptions and if you are one of them then I salute you. I have never been through such a time in my 39 years in this life on earth, and the things I have seen people do and say throughout it have me confused at best.
This year is when I started questioning everything comfortable in my life, because all of a sudden everything stopped working.
We have this virus and we’ve all been told what to do to keep others and ourselves safe, and somehow it became a religious and political situation. Still, this exists. It’s December and even the little amount of data we knew in March is being ignored and abused. That’s miraculous to me. For so many people it has taken them personally knowing someone to suffer in order for them to agree that it even exists. For a country who claims to be based in faith, this seems hard to believe. Religion and Politics should never have had an effect on a deadly human virus. As if believing in a certain type of God and being in a certain tax bracket can exempt you from contracting / spreading a virus that does not care what you believe in or who you vote for. We’re back having that Science vs. Religion debate in schools again… Except this time it’s not Johnny has a note from his mother saying he can’t attend Science class today due to religious reasons, it’s
Johnny might die.
We have black men being lynched on the street in broad daylight on video, and there are people who still will not utter the words ‘black lives matter’. We have white people who still denounce racism. White people on their patios with their degrees and their vodkas on large rocks disbelieving unfairness of any kind.
We have millions of people who are jobless / homeless, and there are people complaining about their parties and vacations being cancelled. Hospitals overrun by disbelievers gasping for air, those same people having refused to wear a mask or change their plans because ‘their rights are being infringed upon’. But when they get sick from not listening to science and ignoring the existence of the strain of nurses and doctors, who do they turn to? Who do they still fight with as they’re fighting for their last breath? – The very people who were not on their minds when they made the decision to ignore reality and choose routine. We have a lack of correlation between ‘what I do in this moment’ and ‘how it could affect someone in 10-14 days’. We are a society filled with ‘I want’, ‘I deserve’ and ‘I always have’.
We have parents who were forced to become teachers and teachers who were forced to become a cleaning crew. On the same unfortunate salary. Teachers are putting their lives at risk every day for the kids who needed to come into class, and there are parents who shame them and scream awful things at them as if any of this were their fault.
Russia hacked our country due to the negligence of our commander in chief and teachers get blamed for chromebooks not working by the parents who voted for him.
We are still fighting the fight for transgender people, for all the queer people trying to live a life they are literally entitled to have as much as anyone else and at the same time, the divorce rate is continuing to rise.
We have a tired patriarchy that still somehow has legs, with millions of Americans believing that blindly respecting the Elder Man is their life’s purpose, while molesters and cheaters and rapists are running free – mine included. If the male who runs the country can get elected after being recorded to say he grabs women by the pussies, continue to spew hate and bigotry for 4 years as he’s literally killing his fellow Americans with his convenient truths, while currently refusing to believe he has lost can continue to thrive and create a devoted fan base… what hope can we cling to?
It’s there, hope. It’s there. Those of us who need it have just had to build our own beacon for it. And it has not been easy. But those of you who have built yours alongside mine, I salute you.
I just don’t understand ignorance. I do not have a tolerance for it. Ignorance is inexcusable now. It’s actually impossible if you live a modern life. We have the answers to anything and everything we could ever want at our fingertips. If I can look up the correct lyrics to ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ while sweating on my stationary bike, you can look up how to understand what has never made sense to you.
I do not understand prejudice and cruelty and exclusivity. I do not understand not wearing a mask. I do not understand going out to eat and running your servers. I do not understand how you can’t have a fulfilling holiday or Saturday without traveling and crowds of people. I do not understand the need for things and stuff and posted pictures to make you feel like you’ve done something right. I do not understand the rat race of proving what you have instead of taking inventory on what matters, and being grateful for all that is on that list and within your grasp.
I do not understand not helping someone in need. Especially this year. I do not understand it. If you have something, feel grateful for that thing and then the next direct thought and response is :
What can I do for someone who does not have this thing I am grateful for?
I haven’t been sharing the things my family and I have been doing this year and it’s been very, very purposeful. I used to play into the social media game and even though I can say with confidence that I wasn’t intending to brag, I know that I was. We all are. Every square on Instagram is a brag. But when faced with the blatant knowledge that people are dying and struggling this year more than ever, I could not continue with anything I once knew as self fulfilling. Even writing this article is a brag in and of its own, along with the ironic probability that I will turn it into an instagram square share. But I have so many feelings and thoughts circling in my head. Writing has always provided me a useful outlet, and this is how one writes and shares these days.
So, dunno how I got you, Mr. Roboto. I will use what I have.
Perched upon my Privileged Place of Pioty, I am fueled with very strong emotions over what I see every day, and though I do often pause to call any of them Anger… I’ll admit it’s close. Passionate, at the very least. Confused at best.
This past year I have done a lot of work on my insides. I have been through therapy and started many spiritual practices to bring much needed inner peace, compassion and gratitude. I have been transformed into an entirely different being and have never felt more balanced. After reconstructing myself, my first instinct and reaction to something I do not understand is not one of judgement or ego, it is one of pause and perspective.
So I have paused a lot, I have looked at things from various perspectives, I have given a lot of grace. But when I see entitlement and intentional ignorance on full display, I find it difficult to not allow the Anger to come to the surface.
Anger isn’t a bad thing. No. Anger is a secondary emotion; it comes as a natural response to other emotions being triggered first and without resolve. So with my pause, and my perspective, and my grace having not solved anything, there came the Anger. Anger is magic and there are different ways to use it. When placed in the wrong hands, Anger can kill, mame and destroy. But on the other edge of the sword, when channeled properly, Anger can be a reminder that things are not just, and act as a productive tool that can motivate you to make a change.
Earlier this week I dropped of the blessing bags that my family filled for our local community.
Let me tell you something about helping those less fortunate than you. Writing checks and mailing them is wonderful. Money is so very needed. Donations of any kind are incredible. Please do not stop doing it. But if you also haven’t stepped foot inside a space representative of your donations, I would like for you to. It changes everything. It makes it real. It makes it less of a check-off a to-do list. It is transformative.
Days prior, we all sat on the floor with A Smoky Mountain Christmas playing in the background the day after my sweet baby boy turned into a teenager. I had gone out the week before and bought everything on the FeedNC list for the blessing bags. It was a family activity. No one was naive, the truth behind the need for these bags was talked about / had been talked about for months. My children are such natural filanthropers.
They knew they were filling bags with shampoo and toothpaste for children their age with the clear understanding that they have backups of both under their sinks upstairs.
But we also garnered a lot of joy from the activity. It was something we did together as a family and we received a warm feeling from it.
I set the bin aside to be delivered the following week having checked it off my list for the day.
Days later when I approached the small FeedNC building on foot, balancing the too-large bin of blessing bags in my high boots and festive dress, it all became very real. It’s been real for me before, but this day it was different. I arrived during their breakfast hours. There were people, families, waiting their turn to come inside and get their hot meal. Waiting in the rain, they stood until it was safe for them to enter. I walked past children with full bellies and grins, and adults with lines of worry temporarily concealed by satiation.
I rounded another corner to the drop-off area. I too waited my turn in the rain before it was safe for me to enter.
The high boots, festive dress, and mascara were mocking me now.
The inside of this small space was full of masked volunteers. Blurred bodies in denim and cotton whirling by on mission after mission. Some were stocking, some were cooking, all didn’t care about my mocking boots. I watched their eyes as they worked. Driven. Motivated.
I watched the families from the inside shop for food. People of all ages found something to nourish them inside this small space.
I left and rounded the corner back to my car, dodging puddles and speeders. I passed by new people, new families, waiting their turn to come inside and get their hot meal. I watched children race out with new toys in one hand, and an apple in the other. I witnessed pure joy and felt pure sadness all at the same time.
I got to my big, shiny car. Traffic and my heart was heavy. I sanitized my bin that now was empty. I sat down and closed the door. I cried. I cried until I wasn’t wearing mascara. I called my husband, trying to put it all somewhere. I sat in silence.
I drove home and through another small town and waited behind an expensive car stopped in the road waiting for the tired, wet, young woman to run out and deliver the driver his drip coffee in a disposable cup.
That is when I started writing this article. On that drive home, seeing the juxtaposition in such plain sight, these words came to me. The Anger had purpose.
When my family filled those blessing bags that afternoon on our living room floor, and when I set out to deliver them, I felt like we were doing this great deed. And I still do. Every donation that we have made to anything and everything this year felt nice from afar.
But seeing how much more is needed that day made it all so much smaller and bigger at the same time.
I will never get those faces out of my head. That little boy running out ahead of his mama with his princess tower – elated. The stacks upon stacks of apples on display. The banana boxes coming in from the back door. The sign out front said eggs, grits and bacon.
I came home to my smiling children on their lunch break from home-school and my husband on his break from home-work. I saw the bowl of apples that had been sitting on my counter for days, the browning bananas to their right, my home for four bigger than the building from which I just came, with its high ceilings and enough money to keep everything underneath it warm. My life changed that day.
This article’s purpose is not to shine a light upon my white, privileged duty. This article is to illuminate the real problem that exists around every corner of your town – whether you see it or not. Whether you ignore it or not. I promise you, you can drive 4 miles in every direction and find a hungry family.
This has always been a problem in our country, but this year – with this pandemic – under that administration – it is stronger and bigger and fiercer, and it is tangible.
But is is also malleable.
This year my family has felt the most gratitude we have ever felt. We are well fed, roofed, and in love and like with one another. Gratitude has been the word I have meditated upon. Every day. Light and Love is sent every day from the deep insides of my mind to each and every one of you out there. And with that shared feeling of gratitude, my family has coupled it with great compassion and a clear understanding of the reality outside our door. We have lived in delight and glee on the inside; safe and in between our private, cozy walls.
And simultaneously in silence and reverence for what lies outside of it.
This holiday we decorated our home with all the things that bring us joy. The kids hung colorful lights, fluffy santas and candy canes wherever they wanted. Music envelops each room. Laughter ricochets. Presents mound. Our tree is as tall as it was before, beautiful as it has always been, and my home smells of butter and cinnamon.
On the outside of our home in years past you could not find a tree without a twinkle, not a column or railing without adornment. An extravagant external display of a celebration.
But this year as we are full of love and joy and gratitude for what’s inside, from the outside you see but one single candle in every window.
We are grateful. And we are also aware.
Last things last
By the grace of the fire and the flames
You’re the face of the future, the blood in my veins
Each and every one of you has a magical power inside of you. It is up to you how you choose to use it. I hope you all understand and respect the weight of that power and never forget what lies outside of your own personal joy.
Or use that Mr. Roboto in your hand and search on your phone to find a cause close to your home. I promise it’s there.
you are loved x