It has always been a struggle of mine to find a place in the world I inhabit. Doggedly inquisitive and independent, my family nevertheless found a home in a community that doesn’t always treasure those traits. Desperate to learn more and ask questions, I attended a school that enhanced my introverted side more than it probably should have and encouraged my peers to avoid too many lines of enquiry. Keen to make friends and be accepted, I was caught in this in-between world where I was on the outer because the ideals I was raised with didn’t quite fit both sides of the equation. I think I headed into my adulthood more confused than excited, and not particularly prepared to face the everyday challenges and disappointments that naturally occur.
It feels as if my early 20s were a long disentanglement from a lot of these erroneous thought patterns and an odyssey to learn as much about real life as possible for myself. My confusion didn’t really spring from the underlying message that was at the core of this community or in a need to rebel. I was simply under-prepared and completely unaware of the outside world and its many quirks. Worst of all was that I thought it was wrong to question and that life could only be binary; right and wrong, good and evil. I don’t really remember learning about the many different shades of grey that filter into all of our decisions and actions. I was always given a straightforward answer that highlighted the worldview we were following, and shown the devastating consequences that would follow if we chose to deviate from that philosophy. My natural instinct to question and discover was negated and frowned upon.
This was a real shame because our experience of life can be so enriched by the many diverse and interesting cultures that we co-inhabit the planet with. It is amazing how much we develop by just looking outside the sphere of our influence and simply realising that we don’t have all the answers in front of us. It took me awhile to realise this bubble surrounding my way of thinking was stifling and that to be wrong and unsure isn’t a red flag that dooms you or identifies you as broken and flawed inside. A lot of the world’s problems can be traced back to an unwillingness of many of us to question our own belief systems and realise there is always a give and take. We are tied to our politics, our religion, our coffee choices to the extent that we isolate ourselves and fail to recognise the drawbacks and failings that those structures can naturally possess. So many arguments and hardships arise because of our opposition to backing down and taking a dispassionate view of reality without the haze of our own worldview.
I’ve really tried to find this balance in my enquiries and viewpoints with the knowledge that we also need a basic set of principles and ideals to stand on as well. This has been a real challenge (hence the song!) and one that I haven’t always been successful at. I have this tendency to take things to an extreme and fall into the same bubble trap over and over again. I hate the feeling of aimless abandon and tend to overcompensate this fear when I find something to be confident in. I don’t always arrive at a viewpoint quickly but when I do I can protect it a little too fiercely! What I’ve realised is that we need a little leeway, a barrier to keep us reasonable and involved in humanity. What good are we to anyone if we can’t relate? I still struggle immensely but I always hope to never lose sight of the perspective of others and dismiss them because they fail to align with mine.
This song digs a lot deeper into my pathos and personal experiences than I care to mention in this space. There are so many experiences that I could share in the aim of specificity and insight but somehow that seems irrelevant. After all, don’t we need a little mystery! I’ve been trying to adapt my songwriting to become a little bit more universal and not so tied to specifics and personal experience. I look back at some of my early sketches and can painfully recollect what was happening that day and the obviousness of it all. My hope is that there is some semblance of progression from my earlier attempts as I’ve matured a little and obtained a bit more perspective. If this hobby has provided me with any positives it’s the opportunity to evaluate myself so as not to stay in the dark ages. It is a bit hard after all to justify your thinking once it’s written down and contemplated.
Maybe if we took some time to find perspective and fully realise our thoughts then it would be easier to keep our outrage in check. I admit that I’m usually the first to fall for the shock and horror peddled in our media and jump to conclusions a little too easy. One of my goals for this year is to not let my confusion become a barrier like it is for the narrator of this song, and constantly search for answers before falling for our outrage culture. I hope that you all can find some clarity in these uncertain times as well and never give up the quest of progress.
Notes: I’ve finally started a Soundcloud page where I’ve put up a few snippets of music, including one for this song! You can find that at https://soundcloud.com/future-arenas As with everything I do, I’m not entirely happy with it and would love any feedback you can offer. For whatever reason I recorded this song a bit slower than I normally play it and as a result the lyrics tend to drag. Also, I’ve got this long messy swell at the end that is neither here or there. Thank you so much for your continued readership, I look forward to next time!
South of Damascus
G F#m F Em
1. I’ve got more doubts than questions answered
G F#m G
and I’m still not sure if that’s a sin.
G F#m F Em G
Went out tonight, got caught in traffic and fell
for ideas that suit me well.
Em Em7 D Bm
B. I’m south of Damascus with no clue at all and my
A C D Em C
road map’s not making any sense. Departures, arrivals;
G D Em D G
the facts and denials. Surely my sanity’s at risk.
2. It seems so real if not that airtight.
What are the odds on clarity?
Last year was tough and unforgiving
my thoughts are clouded and perplexed.
B. Rome’s burning down and I’m caught in the street
as the crowds scream for fuel and a place to eat.
Join in or stand out? Fall back or break out?
I’m caught in a maze that never ends.
3. My legs are sore from all the searching,
I think I’ll rest here for a bit
in my own self with no perspective
or thought to open up my eyes.
4. If these walls could talk they’d probably scream out,
“Stability is key to all.”
Exhausted I meekly reply with,
“What choice is there for you to make?”
B. Still south of Damascus and resource is low.
What becomes of a soul that’s gone astray.
Tired, alone and no coat for the winter.
Please help me find a place to call my own!