Thursday, December 11, 2014

Still searching for my Corner of the Sky

I post a lot of motivational quotes on my social media sites and receive messages from people, thanking me for being so thoughtful. I'm glad they get enjoyment and inspiration from  my posts, but in reality, I'm not posting those quotes for them. I'm posting them for myself.

I've struggled with dark moods all of my life, and always felt as though I didn't belong; not in my family, not in my school, not even with my friends. I felt like the proverbial "bump on a log," never quite fitting in, never quite getting the joke, or getting it hours, days or even years later. Case in point: in junior high school, a classmate signed my yearbook, "To a black-haired blonde." I didn't understand what he meant at the time. Nearly four decades later, I came across his message while thumbing through the yearbook and it finally hit me: HE THOUGHT I WAS AN AIRHEAD. And like an airhead, I had no clue.

Oh, I know I'm smart enough. Okay, maybe I'm more savvy than smart.I have street smarts and maybe a smidge of common sense. I've done a lot of stupid things in my life, so maybe less than a smidge of common sense. I've lived a fairly charmed life and my career spans stints in the recording industry, public relations and broadcast news. I never underwent special training for the jobs I had; I picked them up intuitively and always met people who (knowingly and unknowingly) helped me succeed at each position. I made friends along the way, but still felt as though I didn't "belong."

When I dabbled in community theater while living in Hunstville, Alabama, I had the good fortune to be cast as Fastrada in the musical "Pippin." I didn't know much about the show before I auditioned, but was told my vocal style would fit the role, so I tried out. After the cast was selected, we got together as a group and watched a VHS version of the Broadway show, starring Chita Rivera as Fastrada, Ben Vereen as the Narrator, and William Katt as Pippin. When I heard his song, "Corner of the Sky," for the first time, my heart ached and tears poured down my face. This song perfectly described how I'd been feeling since I could form thoughts.

Nearly 25 years have passed since that experience, and while I've achieved success in my work and have a loving family, I still feel as though I don't belong anywhere. Sometimes, that feeling sparks a deep sense of loneliness that lingers for days, even weeks at a time. There's no logical explanation. It's been labeled "Depression," and I've been given medication to "even things out," but medication has never helped. It's dampened things down, turned me into a zombie, left me able to cope but not feel. Without medication, I feel very deeply, sometimes too deeply. I try to plaster on a smile (grimace) and embrace the routine that is my day. All the while, my brain works overtime, peppering me with criticism and blowing even the smallest mistake out of proportion (MISTAKE = FAILURE). 

I just started taking St. John's Wort to see whether it would help mute that critical voice and even out the chemical imbalance in my brain without turning me into one of the Walking Dead. 

Meanwhile, my heart still yearns to belong somewhere. 

I yearn to find my corner of the sky.

"Corner of the Sky" - Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
From the musical "Pippin"

Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I'll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill
Children fit in the snow
Why do I feel I don't fit in anywhere I go?

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don't you see I want my life to be 
Something more than long....

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

So many men seem destined 
To settle for something small
But I won't rest until I know I'll have it all
So don't ask where I'm going
Just listen when I'm gone
And far away you'll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn:

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

Monday, December 8, 2014

Two murders. One legacy.

December 8th is an emotional date for millions of music fans around the world. On this date, not one, but two icons were cut down in the prime of their lives and careers.

December 8, 1980. New York City. Mark David Chapman walks up to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, as they leave their limo and head toward their apartment building. Chapman pulls out a gun as they walk past, and shoots John five times in the back. He's rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he's pronounced dead.

(John Lennon: October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980)
(Photo: John Lennon Archives)

December 8, 2004. Columbus, Ohio. Former Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott is performing with his new band, Damageplan, when Nathan Gale storms the stage and shoots Darrell in the head three times, killing him instantly. He then continues to fire from the stage, killing three more people and injuring seven others, before a police officer manages to shoot and killed him.

("Dimebag" Darrell Abbott: August 20, 1966 - December 8, 2004)
(Photo: Supern4ut/Flickr)

These two have been remembered across every social media platform today, but as I read tributes, I noticed something. Many of those who were remembering John didn't mention Darrell, while those remembering Darrell seemed to feel the need to justify why they're not paying homage to John.

As far as I'm concerned, these two extremely talented musicians share a similar legacy: creating groundbreaking music that helped change the landscape of their respective genres. Both were struck down way too soon (John was 40; Darrell was 38). Both were branching out on their own, following careers with wildly successful bands (John: Beatles; Darrell: Pantera). 

The Beatles wanted a Revolution. Pantera wanted to Cast a Shadow*

Both bands inspired musical revolutions of sorts, and the deaths of both men continue to cast tremendous shadows in the hearts of their legions of fans.

Give both of these men their due. 
Mourn them equally. 
Celebrate their legacies fully. 
Blast their music loudly.

But, please, don't feel as though you must mourn just one and forsake the other. The world is big enough for both, and your heart should be big enough, too.

*Note: I took liberties with this song title to make it fit the sentence structure. The exact song title is "I'll Cast a Shadow"