I realized that I am still tortured. I heard a song from a different era of my life at work last night. It was Creed’s “One Last Breath.” That song is more than ten years old. My life has changed so much, yet progressed so little, that it seemed like such a clash between distant past & present—as if witnessing a horse & buggy ride down the road alongside all our fancy cars. I heard the song during a cycling class at the health club where I work. I felt bewildered to see the class participants carry on, unaffected by this ancient tune. They represented the world—a world wherein every other occupant had moved on to the present, all while I was still stuck in the past; still moved by the emotion of this tune forgotten by time.
The song appears to tell the tale of a man close to death who is crying out to God for help:
Please come now I think I’m falling
I’m holding on to all I think is safe
It seems I found the road to nowhere
And I’m trying to escape.
The man’s emotions alternate between regret for the path his life has taken & acceptance of his ultimate fate. Lines like, I’m looking down now that it’s over/Reflecting on all my mistakes intertwine with lines such as, I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking/ Maybe six feet ain’t so far down.
I felt so alone with the haunting burden of my own regrets; & long lost goals that I set when this song was shiny & new; relevant to the rest of the world. But last night, as I scanned the faces of the cyclist in the here & now, I saw no sign of remembrance; the song that affected me so deeply may as well have been a phonograph in a museum to them. But for me, I remembered old ones & dusty promises that I had failed to keep–loves that I pursued & lost; money I was supposed to have earned; a lifestyle that I should have already established–all lost to time now. But I would have to suffer in silence, as if I were the only person on earth suffering on this night.
I wanted to go home & drink, but was currently in the grip of a gout inflammation & had an early shift scheduled for the next day. I wanted the alcohol not to hide from my problems, but to acknowledge them. I had forgotten how to cry; & that night, I thought it would be a good time to remind myself. And once done, I would discover the peace of sleep & then awaken to a new day–a new day without tears, without regrets.
My life would be better; could still be great, in fact. Unlike the man in the song, I was not on the edge of life. I had a future to look forward to. I would have other chances to dust off the artifacts of broken promises & piece them together again.
But for now, on this night, I was still tortured.
DISCLAIMER: Reference to regret have been made for narrative purposes only. The piece is semi-autobiographical & based on an actual event, but is not a literal recounting of the author’s response to that event.