Standing in the debris of an emotional bombsite – heavy, sad, shredded – I did what brings me comfort and consolation when I’m feeling plebeian and pained. I visited YouTube.
There, I find what I need. I barely had to lift a finger to swipe because, even on YouTube, my energies are met halfway by whatever invisible source spoon-feeds me when I’m scrunched up, crying like a baby who’s heard the loud slamming of a big, bad door.
This is thrilling for me. If we’re open to making arrangements with our spiritual support team, come to an understanding of what it is they can do to pat us on the back and say There, there, my sweetheart, your Big Buddies are here, they are never caught napping.
And so it was that I found a song and band in my suggestions list that immediately reeled me in. Embarrassingly, I’d never heard of them, despite their planetary popularity. The band is Linkin Park (I know you know them).
I romanced my pain with commiserating lyrics and visuals (I watched quite a few). I could feel hopeless and helpless and tragic and tormented and tough and tiny and tired and a mess and unloved and misunderstood and angry and a misfit and always betrayed. I could feel the wailing why-am-I-here-I-want-to-go-home-to-my-room-in-the-sky and then…
I went cold.
I just knew. It came as no surprise when a suggested video was titled something like ‘Linkin Park Lead Singer Dead.’
I didn’t have to watch it to know Chester Bennington committed suicide; he was killing himself each and every time he sang his songs.
I think one of the biggest struggles we have with understanding suicide is the inability to comprehend the price someone is prepared to pay to kill their pain. Chester Bennington traded his life for something new, but is wasn’t a newness we can see or believe is there.
We would rather have someone’s old unhappiness and tortured physical presence than not have them to hold and hear. I know I would. I live every day with the knowledge that someone dear and precious to me has occasional suicidal thoughts, and the word occasional doesn’t make it less excruciating.
But I digress…
Why did a heavy song lighten my sorrow load? Why can I say it was just the right antidote for my temporarily broken spirit and heart, that I was meant to watch it?
The answer is: the words and video have a meaning peculiar to me and touch my deepest knowing and self. The song is Waiting for the End.
The video is ghoulish and hypnotic, dark and primal. It’s also celestial and charged with flashes of blue light; I’m looking at amniotic fluid, an underwater night sky birthing recognizable, and unrecognizable, things into cosmic blackness.
Does this depict what happens when uncertainty enters our life? When we’re waiting for the end, in that place of knowing something is dying, but not knowing what will be birthed in its stead?
It’s not what we planned, we say. It’s out of my control, we cry. We go into a pulsing darkness, and the best advice we can give ourselves is to disappear, make sure we forget.
And yes, I know what if feels like to move on, to lie to myself.
Holding on to what is not mine happens when I whisper fibs in my own ear, ignore my intuition, and pretend I can live in a falsehood.
Starting over is only hard if I’m in denial. Starting again has, for me, always led to living again.
When I felt hot, monster emotions writhing inside me, I imagined opening my mouth and streaming the feelings out, like a dragon blowing fire across a cave. I imagined lightning flashing from my wide, wider, widest mouth, expelling the pain and scorching a path to relief. What I imagined is there, in the video, 2 minutes and 19 seconds in.
We all have songs that take us by the hand and to the rooftop of our life. From there we can look up, not just down, and know there is more to us than just us.
To Linkin Park I say: I’m sorry I didn’t know your music sooner, but perhaps I wasn’t ready.
Chester Bennington died on 20th July 2017.
PS In 2022 I had to edit this post. I did research for another project on using song lyrics in books etc. and was surprised to learn it’s a big no-no. You have to jump through hoops to get permission to do so. I had no idea this was the case – I thought, as long as one cites the source, you’re OK. Not so. I had to alter the post, losing the lovely thread of the lyrics being braided into it. I edited the title too, as it referenced a phrase in the song. Thank you for understanding if you’re a returning reader.