Hope Floats  

Posted by Jonathan E Johns

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So at work on Sundays, I am alone for the whole 9 hour shift, and I get to choose my own music on that day, thank goodness. I choose a local 'oldies' station, that plays more often than not, early 80's popular music. That is not to say they play 'pop' music, they do, of course, but they play lots of variety, including Ozzy Osborne, Journey, Phil Collins, and lots of other stuff. It is a good mix of music I heard going through puberty, mostly. ( anything from 7th grade, to my college years)

Sunday, mixed in with the Kiss, Ozzy, and Whitesnake, were a lot of tired old love songs. R.E.O. Speedwagon, (Jefferson) Starship, Hall & Oats, you get the idea. And as I was listening, it occurred to me that I was getting the same sick feelings I sometimes get listening to the country stuff usually at work.

My inevitable conclusion was that I was sick of listening to love songs, no matter if the guitar were hanging over the shoulders of the tired rocker in spandex, or laying on its back below the cowboy with the steel slide.

I cannot possibly imagine what it must be like to be lost at sea. I have seen movies, just like you, and seen some television documentaries, and re-enactments. But to really look into myself, I just cannot fathom how hopeless and terrifying that must be, Sailing along, happy, with the wind in your hair, free, with a clear direction, supplies for a predetermined length of the trip, safety gear, radios, you understand, floating along, with all the stuff that makes you feel safe. Safe enough, at least, to enjoy the feeling of being out at sea, not necessarily alone, with a direction in mind, but with the freedom to change direction on a whim. I imagine you have someone with you, someone you chose carefully, knowing that you would be with this person alone at sea for a long period of time, someone who you trust implicitly, care for deeply, someone you want to share the experience with. You've chosen someone you want to take a long journey with.

Suddenly, you are alone. Grasping desperately to a life saver, several feet lower than you were before, now you cannot see half as far as you could while on deck. No supplies, no survival gear, panic and fear coursing through your veins, pulsing at your temples. But after the first night and day, the adrenaline rush has worn you out physically and emotionally, and you are trying desperately to get your own mind back, your ability to reason, and think things through to a natural conclusion is evasive, and you struggle to keep a thought in your head long enough to reason it through. At every turn, your mind races with fear, sharks, fresh water, food, rescue, your shipmate.

Chances are, you know whats happened to your shipmate. As you replay the event in your head, there is so much you don't know. You were awakened suddenly, there were panicked screams of desperation, water was everywhere it shouldn't be, there was no power on the boat, the seas were rough, there were only a dozen seconds to get what you could get, and get off the sinking vessel before it sank, and took you with it. As you reach the deck, you see your shipmate impaled by the mast, then blown overboard. Survival instinct take over your most basic functions, and you try desperately to grab what gear you can, and get off the ship, or else it will drag you to the depths.

But the next morning, you find yourself with nothing but your pajama pants, and a donut shaped life preserver, and 5000 miles of ocean between you and anything.

Feeling that alone, confused, and panicked, I cannot imagine, feeling desperate to survive, but with a nagging need to find something you can control, even if it is the way you shall die. Feeling your whole life torn away from you, everything you hold dear, everything you planned, and prepared for, ripped away from you, with no real explanation, with your inherent need to survive on your mind, but your conscious trying hard to relive the situation over and over again.

I cannot imagine what that must be like for the survivor of a boating accident at sea, but I can imagine what it is like for someone to lose their relationship with someone else, and feel like their very life has been torn away, all their plans turned to nothing more than floating debris, and the very act of survival day to day turned into a fight with ones own mind over its desperation to find meaning in what happened. Having arguments inside ones own head, that I can imagine. Fighting every minute of every day the minds wish to think about one thing, and knowing that the need to think of something else is more important. These things I can imagine, because I have dealt with them.

I think listening to the country music brings thought into my head of a more recent nature, and the songs of my younger days seem to bring on every failed relationship I had in high school and college.

It actually probably has nothing to do at all with the music, but my mind is just dwelling on these things, and the songs seem to be some sick idea of theme music. All I can say about that is that when I am at home alone, and trying not to think of these things, I listen to music that distracts my mind from these thoughts, and it works.

My guess is that every 'love song' ever written somehow can connect to some person, who feels the lyrics replay in their own minds feeling they once had for someone else. At least the most popular songs do this, which is why they become so widely popular on the first place .And I imagine everyone has felt as lost as the sailor at sea feels. Alone, torn away from their own lives, struggling inside their own heads to 'get over it', stop 'dwelling on it', but helpless to change it.

I think everyone deals with these life situations differently, some with blame, or hate, some with a need for revenge, others with deep sorrow, regret, pain, and disconnection. I think we all go through stages, denial, acceptance, etc etc.

The pain of a lost relationship is probably nothing like the pain of being lost at sea, the similarities end right after the word 'lost'. But while the person is in the midst of dealing with their own struggling mind, no pain in the world can compare. I think we all go through this when we're young, when we first break up, and at thirteen, or fifteen, or eighteen years old, it seems no one has ever felt the pain we feel, nothing in life could ever be worse that what we're going through, and no one could possibly understand how we feel. As we grow older, and gain some maturity, we understand better that this extremism is best left for the pubescence of youth who get a free pass for behaving in such a way. But I don't think we ever stop feeling the same way we felt when we were young, we simply deal with it more quietly, get over it in about the same amount of time, learn to go on with our lives while dealing with it, and keep our expression of our pain to ourselves. But the feelings are just the same, all our lives and after every relationship. The self-doubt, the struggle to apply blame, to others or ourselves, the pain of loss, and the acute realization that we are more fragile than we want to be.

Except for a few extreme cases, most of us finally get over it, move on, and find another boat to take out to sea, and another person to join us on our journey, but whenever we see that old life saver, (or hear that old song,) we remember the pain we once felt, and know that a part of our heart was torn away once before, and left behind a scar, that will never quite heal completely.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 9:28 AM . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

there is so much i wanted to say to comment back that i decided to just blog about it myself. except for one thing:

thank you for your friendship.

November 17, 2008 at 12:56 PM

You're welcome.

Interesting new meaning to, "Ain't life a beach?"

November 20, 2008 at 2:50 PM

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