Recommended Reading Soundtrack: Transcendental Blues by Steve Earl
When I was young, I remember being in the car with my Mom when the Hall and Oates song “Maneater” was playing on the radio. I was singing along, “Whoa, here she comes. Watch out boy, she’ll ‘chew your BUTT.” Laughter ensued by my mom, of course. If you don’t know that song (and I definitely wouldn’t hold it against you if you haven’t!), there is a reason as to why that was so funny.
Yes, my ears and brain had a few wires crossed and I actually confused the word “butt” with “up.” Oh, the sound of melancholy 80s pop love songs- the turmoil of Madonna in her song “Crazy for You.” Picture me in the back seat of our white Dodge Minivan, afraid at the humble age of 12 of the prospect of being alone for the rest of my life. Alone, alone, ALONE. Really!?
When I started thinking about what my greatest teacher in life has been, my heart met my mind in front of the great Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. All kind of directions were popping up, but I was led to an unexpected place within myself. The thoughts opened the door to the root of my life’s greatest fear, and greatest teacher- the fear of being alone, abandoned, all by my lonesome with my own “Achy Breaky Heart.” The fact that I can’t stand country music makes the fear that much more substantiated.
Loneliness, once my mind’s arch enemy, has become my best friend. Without it I could never have seen the truth of who I am- like a mirror on display simultaneously within me and outside of me. It has taught me time and again the opposite- that I am never alone as I exist in everything I feel, perceive around me.
Once, when I was confronting all the reasons I believed no one would want me and I would die as Bridget Jones’ version of a lonely old “spinster,” and eventually be eaten by wild dogs, I was bluntly asked, “Are you crazy?” He continued, this stranger that was deeply involved in one of the most difficult confession sessions I had ever completed, “Why would you ever believe those things about yourself?”
That question turned out to be one that I am grateful for every day. This fear of being alone has led me on a journey of inner knowing, a “wild goose chase” if you will, that I never thought was possible. Through all the “crazy,” the tears, the crippling mental self flagellation, I have come out to the world with the understanding that it was only me, myself and I that could attempt to isolate myself from my truth and the people that operate within it.
What is my truth? That in every laugh, impulsive reaction of every person I find annoying, adore, or look up to- there I am. No, I don’t have multiple personality disorder, but what I do have is a case of being human. The most difficult and awesome part of the experience is that all I see in others is a simple reflection of me.
In the end of the film, While You Were Sleeping, when Bullock’s character Lucy confesses she really is not the fiancé of the man she is about to marry, she explains to mother, father, grandmother, godfather, and sister, that she simply fell in love with not just her fiancé, but ALL of them. And just like that, she was never alone again. Through the fear of my greatest teacher (and many Cure songs of course) I have found a path to loving and appreciating all parts of myself within everyone I encounter. And I am ever abundantly more in love with all aspects of being human, every day.