(The Pretenders, Back on the Chain Gang)
I love the song Back on the Chain Gang by the Pretenders. For years though, I thought that one of the song lines was "Proundities and the news of the world". As noted above, it's not. I confess that I like my wrong version of the lyric better than the actual one. Anyway, I don't have any profundities to share, but that has never stopped me before.
The song Back on the Chain Gang is about grief. Specifically, the album came after two members of the band (The Pretenders) passed away tragically. You can read more about the song HERE. This comes, also, on the heels of my listening to a few videos about the life of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett. More than a few songs by the group, such as Wish You Were Here, are about Syd, who left the group and spiraled into decades of mental health issues afterward. The conventional wisdom is that Syd "freaked out" after repeatedly taking the drug LSD, but from what I've learned (backed up by interviews with Pink Floyd band members David Gilmour and Roger Waters), it's more likely that he suffered from schizophrenia, which the LSD only made worse. Not exactly, pleasant stuff, I know, but these things come to mind as I think about some of the things that have happened, and are happening, in my life.
I know that last phrase is, shall we say, a bit on the "loaded" side, and I'm going to apologize in advance for not being particularly direct. That's part of the balance that has to be maintained sometimes in life as we try to weigh our own need for expression vs. a genuine desire to not make things worse. I'm going to try and walk that line.
In this time between the Thanksgiving and Christmas, I often think about past holidays. Now at the time, as I (and really all of us) experience these things, it's never clear how important they will become to us in the future. Every parent can relate to this, as we collectively measure the memories of our little children against the realities of now-functioning adults who are busy creating memories of their own. For me, while some of those times were very stressful, for a variety of reasons, I would pretty much give anything to see my daughters, as those long-ago little girls, at Christmas one more time.
I also think about my late brother Chris quite often around the holidays, and in most respects, I would never want to go back and see him again around the holidays, at least not as an adult. For people that struggle with mental health issues, the holidays can be very difficult. That can be far easier to discern in hindsight than it is in real time. Part of that struggle ends up with those loved ones who end up bearing witness to that difficulty, over and over again, in their collective memories.
Lastly, I am okay. As I've written in the past, in sometimes visceral detail, I'm fully aware that my fate ends up being the observer, "that which survives". I am grateful for that survival instinct, for that ability to step back, shake it off, learn a bit, and move on. And end up writing stuff like this. Like any talent though, it's never free.