Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Am The Fire

I have never been shy about my love of music. I freely admit that it is what some might consider obsessive. I live in a soundtrack and I think in lyrics. I have always had an easier time expressing myself through music than any other way, including this way (blogging is hard work - try it some time). Back in school, when we had book covers that were made from paper grocery bags (children, as your parents, or maybe your grandparents), I was the kid whose book cover was adorned with song lyrics and band logos. I even had clothes that were all marked up with song lyrics and band logos. Some songs get into my soul, make themselves comfortable, and take up permanent residence. When a song speaks to me, I tend to drive the people around me crazy with that song.

This has probably been the case recently with Halestorm’s “I am the fire”. It’s a great song from a great modern band, with a driving beat, lots of energy, and powerfully self-affirming lyrics. I already enjoyed the song just from the surface feel of it, but the first time I truly heard the line, “I am the one I’ve been waiting for,” I was hooked. Hearing that at around the same time that I was starting this blog was fortuitous, to say the least.

It’s not a new idea, but it is a new presentation, and it needs to be presented. It needs to be thought about and remembered. I am the one I’ve been waiting for. We spend so much time looking outside that we forget to look inside. We forget that what we need first is what is within ourselves.

It is easy to forget. There are so many distractions in the world, and we are so accustomed to looking outside. We look to others to make us happy, to lift us up, and to make us complete. We even let others make us unhappy, tear us down, and make us incomplete. We are social individuals, without a doubt, but we often get so caught up in the social part that we forget to take care of the individual. Human beings don’t exist without individuals, though. Being individuals is a huge part of what makes us human.

I am the architect of my own happiness. That has been a difficult lesson to learn, and one that I am still learning, to tell the truth, but it has probably made more of a difference in my life than any of the other lessons I have learned along the way. I spent so much of my young life basing my value - my happiness and self-worth - around other people, and that is a recipe for disaster. It’s not that other people won’t lift you up - many people will, and will do so often - but other people are outside, and you can’t control outside. You can’t define what other people will do, so defining yourself by what other people do is no definition at all. It will change faster than you can keep up with, and often without warning. Other people, especially specific other people, can’t always be with you. Even the ones who mean the best and do the best for you will come and go and, as a result, will often not be there at some critical moment. Without even considering any malignant causes, other people cannot be dependable foundations for your value.

Worse, though, is the reality that we cannot dismiss the possibility of malignant causes. There are some great people in this world, and you probably know some of them; people who will help others to rise at every opportunity. There are also people, though, who are not so great. There are people who will go out of their way to break people down and generally make the world around them a worse place to be. Some of those people don’t do it on purpose, but they do it just the same. Some of them are sneaky too. Some of them act like they have your best interest at heart, and may even believe that they do, but end up with results that are anything but the best.

Whether for good or ill, other people cannot be the cause of your happiness without also being the cause of your unhappiness. What you receive from others can be taken away by others, and the power to bring happiness must also include the power to bring unhappiness. There is no other way it can work. Don’t wait for someone else to do what is within your own power to do. If you’re waiting for happiness, you’re waiting for you.

That’s the secret. We spend so much time waiting - for someone to make us happy, for someone to make us better, for someone to lift us up, for someone to complete us - when the one person best equipped to do all of this is the one person who is there every moment of every day. You never leave yourself, and you are never without yourself. You never really have to wait for yourself, but we wait anyway because we don’t understand. We think we are waiting for someone else. I thought I was waiting for someone else, but the one person I needed was the one in the mirror. I spent all that time waiting because I didn’t understand that I already had what I needed. I was waiting for me.

Being in control of my own happiness has a cumulative effect. If I am unhappy with myself, I am more likely to notice and focus on the unhappiness around me, and am more likely to spread unhappiness. If I am happy with myself, I am more likely to notice and focus on the happiness around me, and am more likely to spread happiness. I can become more happy or unhappy as a result of external sources, but it has to start with me. External sources can add to my happiness, but cannot create it from scratch. By the same token, my happiness can add to the happiness around me. I can spread what I have. I am the fire, and so are you. We each carry the flame within ourselves. It is up to each of us to decide what we will do with it.

They say that no man is an island, and that is true. We spend our lives immersed in social interactions, and everything we do impacts and is impacted by the actions of other people. What we do, each and every one of us, however, begins with each and every one of us, individually. The starting point of every action is the individual. I must act to change my life for better or worse and, ultimately, my actions are the only ones I can control. What I do will impact others, but it will impact me first, so it behooves me to take control of my actions and make them the best that I can.

There comes a time when you have to look in the mirror, face yourself eye to eye, and admit that everything holding you back is you, and everything pushing you forward is you. It all begins with what you do and what you allow. You have to be the change you want to be in your own life before you can work on changing anything else. Don’t wait, because the person you’re waiting for is you. The person you’re waiting for is always you. Everything else is incidental. Once you get started, the rest will follow. It won’t be easy, it’s never easy, but it will go where you go. If we each are all always and honestly our best, a better world would be no work at all. You are the one you’ve been waiting for. You just have to believe.

“I promise to myself, me and no one else
I am more than this
I am the fire …”

Music and video copyright belong to Halestorm, of course. Check it out below.

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