How Did You Love?


insp0034First, I need to explain something with this post. Music has been a therapist for me throughout most of my life. I spent a lot of my childhood without a lot of friends and with a mother who really didn’t want me, so I also spent a lot of time alone, doing things that people do when they are alone–reading, writing, getting lost in my imagination and in fictional worlds, listening to music.

To me, music isn’t just background noise. It has meaning; it’s magical; it’s therapeutic. Music sometimes makes me feel the same way as some art does or some pieces of literature or a philosophical quote.

Musicians–and I don’t care if it’s a blues artist, a rock star, a hip-hop artist, or a dubstep DJ–are our modern-day philosophers. Art isn’t just painting or love-music-so-much-daily-quotes-sayings-pictures-810x787sculpting or drawing; art is writing, art is composing, art is dreaming–however any of us dreams–and then finding a way of expressing those dreams to the world, whether it’s in a song, a painting, a sculpture, a dance movement, or a series of words that bring a world or a character to life.

So when I listen to music, it’s not just sound that makes me feel good. I hear all its parts; I savor the melody, the beat, hear the bass, the guitar, the drums, the instrument of the singer’s voice, the words that they’re sharing.

Anyway, Shinedown is one of those bands whose lyrics speak to me; so many of their songs, it feels like they’re speaking directly to me (Bully is an obvious one). In my blog post yesterday, I made a meager attempt to describe how I see the world, and this morning, I heard Shinedown’s How Did You Love while I was getting ready for work, and I realized that it actually is in a similar vein with my post from yesterday.

Nothing ever feels quite the same when you are what you dreamed
And you will never look at anything the same when you see what I see
How we forget ourselves, lose our way from the cradle to the grave
You can’t replicate or duplicate, gotta find your own way woah

No one gets out alive, every day is do or die
The one thing you leave behind
Is how did you love, how did you love?
It’s not what you believe, those prayers will make you bleed
But while you’re on your knees
How did you love, how did you love, how did you love?

This ain’t no cross to carry
We are the judge and jury, we are the judge and jury

I see people every day chasing their tail, trying so hard to be what they think the people around them want them to be, as if it matters what people think of 114192-just-be-yourselfthem. It has taken me a lifetime to realize that what others think of you doesn’t really matter. The only person whose opinion of you matters is the one that looks back at you from the mirror. In the end, it doesn’t matter what people thought of you, all that matters is how you loved; how you made people feel.

I see this in my own life. I was raised by a mother who probably would have been better off not having had children. She is very self-centered and narcissistic, more worried about what people think of her than what kind of person she is. To the outside world, she projects a light that some people can’t see through, and so they think, ‘Oh, what a saint she is.’ But to those of us who know her, she has an ugly heart; she is vindictive and mean-spirited, cold-hearted and entitled. Is it enough for ten people to think, ‘What a nice lady’ when there is even one person who has been on the receiving end of a barbed insult or a flying fist? I don’t think so.

This is the reason that I try so hard to not cause conflict, to not upset people, and when I do? It destroys a part of me. I fuck up sometimes, and I almost never forgive myself; that’s just part of my nature. My mother holds grudges against anyone and everyone; I hold grudges only against myself.

This line right here:

How we forget ourselves, lose our way from the cradle to the grave

That’s the saddest line in the entire song to me. When you look into the face of a child, you see pure truth, innocence, wonder, hope–so many things that we lose rekindle-your-childlike-wonder-bsol-535as we grow and experience the world, and it’s so sad to me that the reason we lose those things isn’t because we’re supposed to, it’s because other people have caused us to lose them. Those things–those are the things I’ve tried to get back over the last dozen years or so…to reconnect with my inner child, to recapture the magic of looking at the world with new eyes, with innocent eyes, and not colored by the perceptions I’ve been taught. We strive so hard for “things” when all we should be striving for is to be ourselves.

Stop trying to be who you think others want you to be. Stop trying to make other people be what you want them to be. Just be you, and know that those people who are supposed to be in your life will accept you exactly the way you are. It doesn’t matter how big your house is or how new your car is, how much money you make or what job you have; in the end, the only thing that matters is how you made people feel. That’s your legacy.