I can’t sing, but music is my muse. When I’m deep in thought or driving or working on something, music is sure to be playing. Usually ’70s and ’80s rock and roll, but it can be even more contemporary than that. I remember a couple of times in my life when the “Eagles'” song “Already Gone” would be blaring from the speakers in my car, fueling a feeling of freedom, of revelation, of euphoria…
Music and lyrics can inspire and give voice to some profound truth and allow us to look into the mirror, or deep inside ourselves, and see things that were there all the time, but somehow missing from our sight.
When I was in high school, I hung around with some guys who I had hung around with forever. They were hysterically funny, free spirits, and hell-bent on having fun. Were they my friends? I never really considered that question, but just accepted the fact that we all hung out together. Some of these guys I had known since the earlier days of elementary school and so I had no real sustained memories of life without them. The problem was that I was the only guy in the mix who had that thing called a curfew. Since none of them did, I was violating mine on a regular basis and so I was getting grounded a great deal. Is that even a thing anymore? Do kids get grounded, as in having to stay within the confines of their house, under a kind of house arrest, until your parents decide that you can regain your freedom? It happened to me, way too often.
Besides being grounded, I found that my compadres did not provide me with much happiness (I thought that they were responsible for my happiness – another wrong-headed concept – but that is a whole different topic.) I had braces on my teeth, which the guys thought was funny. My complexion was pretty disastrous too, which further amused them. Their humor consisted of ridicule, derision and was pretty merciless. I was unhappy, but I didn’t really feel as if I had any other friends. The teenage years are fraught full of stuff that can really affect us, and it isn’t easy overcoming a lot of that crap because we’re maturing, life is hard, and we don’t have much life experience to deal with all the things that are happening.
In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that at the tender age of 16, I saw what I had to do, and immediately set about doing what I had made up my mind to do.
Finally, about halfway through my junior year in high school, I went on a religious retreat for a weekend. I met some great people, found that I had value, a sense of humor myself and that hanging out did not mean that I had to be the target of insults, whispers and mocking. In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that at the tender age of 16, I saw what I had to do, and immediately set about doing what I had made up my mind to do. I dumped my old friends and got some new ones. It wasn’t quick or easy, and there was plenty of times that I second-guessed myself and wondered if I would ever make friends with anyone, nor would I be like the title of the “Little River Band,” song “Lonesome Loser.”?
In time, my new friends accepted me. I had to overcome the stigma of being a former associate of the guys that I had hung around with, as they had made themselves pretty well known for mocking, teasing and insulting lots of people, besides me. My new friends were equally possessive of the funniness quotient, which has always been important to me. They were involved in far more, how do I say this… the stuff my new friends liked to do really reduced my chances of getting grounded, suspended from school or arrested. Though we are not as close nor in contact as much as I would like, I still consider these guys friends and we do make an effort to stay in touch.
When I hear the song “Already Gone” by the Eagles, it makes me smile. The song is from the very era that I am referring to, the mid-1970’s. Listen to the song some time, and check out the lyrics:
“Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down, heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key”
I had been living my life in chains, and did not realize that I had the key… think about how many things in our lives that these simple song lyrics could apply to.
Are you in a toxic relationship that is not healthy for either of you, yet you just continue to poison each other with animosity, indifference, and muddled resignation? Maybe you need to be “Already Gone.” Do you cling to negative thinking, a non-stop chirping in your head about how you aren’t good enough, experienced enough, clever enough, educated enough, whatever… Enough! Those thoughts need to be “Already Gone.”Are there habits that you know that you need to break out of, but… it’s easier, more comfortable, or downright hard to change or get away from the things that you do over and over and over – that leave you tired, drained, hopeless. Are there lifestyle things – eating too much of the wrong things, being sedentary, not challenging yourself physically, mentally or spiritually…?
These things, too, can be “Already Gone…” You do hold the key to unlock those chains – you may need professional counseling or medical intervention or a strong support network, or a combination of all of those… but whatever it takes, you DO hold the key.
Is there a job that sucks so bad that you lose sleep dreading the start of the next workday, that you feel sick thinking about the job, or your boss, or whatever it is that is sucking your life away – you hold the key. You can make that job “Already Gone,” and find a place where you are valued, and nurtured and encouraged to be whatever it is that you need to become. Maybe the key is working for yourself, changing the world once you change your outlook, your perspective, your habits.
There are some really smart people here on Linkedin who can help you with wherever you want to go. I love that they encourage, and support and embrace you where you are and then push, pull and cheer you on as you find your own “True North.” They talk of being brave, being vulnerable, being real, being who you are and then reaching down deep to share your story, your trials, your victories, and your secrets. Being “Already Gone” from who you once were will allow you to step into the future to the you that is intended to be.
And as they say in the song, there may be times where you have “to eat your lunch all by yourself…” but use your time alone to become stronger, smarter and more positive. Before you know it, you’ll “be feelin’ strong” and you’ll “sing this victory song…” But before any of that, you have to know – you hold the key.