Originally posted elsewhere, May 2011.
Rock & Roll, both the music and the lifestyle, is pretty much predicated on three things, having a good time, falling in love and falling out of love. I might even submit that all music, nay art forms, are built on those three things. But alas, it is the heartbreak that seems to yield the most poignant and powerful manifestations of art. Certainly the most accessible.
From Mozart to the opening riff of “Layla” to the pied piper of broken hearts Tom Petty, when we hear certain songs our emotions can go from gut wrenching sadness to anxious tears, and if enough time has passed, to the head nod of recognition. The music world is full of the heart shattered downtrodden. Flying well below the radar is Schuyler Fisk’s “Who Am I To You?” off her debut album The Good Stuff. The album may be a few years old now but this song charts among the best of the “sad bastard” genre.
“Quiet lies beneath the blue moon, you couldn’t say much less now could you? It’s on your mind, it’s in your eyes.“
No matter what lengths we go to hide the way we feel or what we are thinking, it shows. In gambling it is called a “tell”, in medicine it is called “presenting” and in relationships it is called “the end”. If you’ve been in love more than once, odds are you have spent time at “the end”.
When you are staring at your partner wanting to shake them and just scream “TELL ME”, you don’t. You can’t. More often than not, you don’t want the answer. You quietly sit and wonder if they’ll try to work it out with you or if they’ll leave you. Sadly, more often than not, you know the answer.
They may think they are protecting you with their silence and distance, but they’re not. Being open and present in a relationship is the heavy lifting in a relationship. It’s the work beyond the love, it’s the work no one tells you about and movies don’t show you. If you can’t do the heavy lifting, you’ve got to try if you want to stay.
And if you don’t want to stay?
Silence delivers the fatal blow in relationships.
“I was here lying down (or I feel locked out)
My head so conflicted
Everything I am
I’m so caught up
I can’t let you go
I need to know
I need to know”
You feel the loss from you skin through your bones to your soul but you’re desperate. You’re pleading with them to break the silence so you can know one way or the other. All too often where there was once tenderness and love there is now only anger and resentment. One wants to know and doesn’t know and anger because the other knows and doesn’t want to tell.
To be in love is to experience an all consuming series of contradictions.
“If it’s not me you need to sleep beside. If I’m not the thought that’s always on your mind. If I’m not the reason you dream at night.“
You can’t really choose who you fall in love with. Sure, you can choose who you date. And if the dating goes well you build to a point where you end up thinking and dreaming about the person. You get butterflies in your stomach before you see them. You dress to impress. You fix your hair just right. You take extra care of yourself.
You do things. For them. Unasked. You want them to be so into you that they can’t take their mind off of you. That’s the first part, the dreamy part, of love. You imagine a future together. You picture everything you do and everything that you are with that person. You project the love out years and years. Beyond the awkward “firsts”, beyond the brunches, behond the shitty movies, beyond the fights, beyond the kids, beyond the suburbs, beyond the weddings, beyond retirement, beyond the beyond.
But sometimes life takes over, the love fades and if you loose that imagery or it stops and you can’t see beyond the disagreements, you should go. You need to go. Sure, you can hold out hope the feelings will return. You can push through and find a place to rest, but at what cost? At whose cost?
Love can often be selfish but you can’t be too selfish and waste your partners time while you drag their heart and emotions through the mud. If the person that you love is “not the thought that’s always on your mind“, you must be both selfish and selfless, let them find what they need so you can find what you need.
Can there be a more painful break up then the one where you don’t want to but know you need to?
“I’m awake but you’re still sleeping, not some secret you’ve been keeping…Soon the sun will come to save me.“
When you are first in love the sunlight of daybreak brings hope and optimism. It brings another opportunity to right the wrongs, it shortens the path towards tomorrow. You’re one day closer to where you want to be with your partner.
When love gets all wonky, as love often does, you lose sleep, you lose your hunger, you lose all feeling and it takes everything to not lose your mind. It always seems that the person least connected will always be the person most likely to sleep through it all. But then maybe they’ve been sleeping all along?
And in the end, it is that same sunlight of daybreak that brings the light of hope and optimism to give you the strength needed to pick up the pieces and move on. In spite of all the pain and all the hurt, there will never be anything more optimistic than daybreak.
History has given us some amazing love songs, running the gamut from new love to gut wrenching heartbreak, too many to name. And now we can add “Who Am I To You” by Schuyler Fisk to the list.