Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I'll Follow You

“The first step is the one you believe in, and the second one might be profound.” If you happen to be someone who follows my personal Facebook feed, you’ve probably seen this quote a few times recently. It’s one of my favorite lines from a modern song. It’s a nearly perfect summation of how you become a better person. Start with what you know and then grow. You don’t have to begin with the unknown but, if you just keep going, you’ll get there, and the things you may find once you do … Well, as the song says, they might be profound. Keep your eyes and mind open, and learn.

Amusingly, to me at least, that quote isn’t even the point of the song. It’s practically an afterthought. The song, “I’ll Follow You” from the band Shinedown, is a love song in the “no matter what, I’ll be there with you” vein. It’s one I dedicate to Heather nearly every time I hear it, so it’s doubly a favorite. I like it when a song can engage you on multiple levels, and this one definitely does.

I'll Follow You

That’s life, isn’t it? Nothing is only one thing, and there is almost always more than one reason why you like something, or why you don’t like something, for that matter. Sometimes there are reasons to like something and reasons to dislike something, all rolled together, and you have to figure out which way the balance leans. Do the good points outweigh the bad, or is it the other way around? Life is a complicated bit of navigation that doesn’t always make sense, but we do our best to make sense out of it. It’s not always an easy task. Who am I kidding? It’s rarely an easy task, and some people find it more difficult than others, but we do what we can and hope for the best. With a bit of luck, we have some good people to help us make sense out of it all, and with even more luck we have some fun along the way.

Her Name is Alice

That fun isn’t always easy to find, though, and some people go out of their way to make things even more difficult. Life is full of bullies. Oddly, they often seem to be the ones who can’t quite grasp the fact that life is complicated. They think things are simple and, rather than learn and grow, they try to force things to be simple, to fit into preconceived boxes. If you step out of one of those boxes, BLAM! School books are all over the floor, blood is flying from a shattered nose, and someone who was having trouble with self esteem already is humiliated in front of the entire class. Believe it or not, that is one of the better case scenarios. There are worse. There are some that are way worse.

Bully

We do what we can, as we always do. Sometimes all you can do is know your own mind and find your own peace. For me, much of that peace has always been found in music. I think in music, I dream of music, I have a constant soundtrack running around in my head and usually skipping out through my teeth. I whistle constantly, snatches of music that come and go, sometimes without even registering their conscious presence. I latch onto songs that speak to me, that express what I’m feeling or have felt, or that offer hope and encouragement. When I was picking up those books scattered across the school hallway, it was usually easy to tell mine from anyone else’s that might be there. Mine were the ones covered in band names and song lyrics. Find peace where you can until you learn to make it, right?

State of My Head

One secret to finding the light at the end of that awkward tunnel is to not take yourself too seriously. There will always be someone who is looking to take the wind out of your sales. You can stress out over it or you can laugh at it. There is a distinct shortage of other options. Personally, I did enough stressing about it when I was younger so, these days, I prefer to laugh whenever possible. If that means laughing at myself, so be it. I’m a funny guy. Maybe not always quite as funny as I think, and sometimes not in the way I intend to be, but funny is funny. If you haven’t tried it, you should. You’ll find that not taking yourself too seriously is a great way to disarm the bullies. They can’t poke a target that isn’t there.

Asking For It

Life is a series of curveballs. Just when you get used to responding one way, things will come at you from a different angle and you’ll have to come up with something different. Relax and take it as it comes. Start with what you know, and grow. That second step, the step into the unknown, can be terrifying, but it can also be amazing. Let yourself be amazed, and don’t worry about the rest so much. It is what it is, but you can be more. You can be profound.

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