Last few weeks I have been ruminating on this here blog about men’s stories, especially relationship narratives (not necessarily romantic in nature) and about self-perceived shortcomings that can be remodeled at will. Many posts are connected to song lyrics and all of them are things I think about when awake, and feel even when asleep. If you’re into this kind of tales go and see other posts with tag “On Relationships”.
And now, let’s continue.
My very favorite man’s story about fear of failure was written by Brad Arnold, one of my favorite lyricists and vocals of all times.
I first heard it long, long time ago, 3 short term partners and a husband ago, when it was released in 1999. I remember loving the beginning; the war drum and the ominous feel of something important about to happen. I remember pervasive feeling of doom I felt and still feel as he sings that first verse:
I took a walk around the world
To ease my troubled mind
I left my body lying somewhere
In the sands of time
But I watched the world float
To the dark side of the moon
I feel there is nothing I can do, yeah
Being both comic enthusiast and person quite fond of pop-cultural references I’ve always felt that I would love this song even if it did not draw out such intimate doubts. But it does. And those intimate doubts are perfectly interwoven with iconography so great and so male it would be completely understandable to go too far into theatrics and pathos. And yet it doesn’t.
If I go crazy then will you still
Call me Superman
If I’m alive and well, will you be
There a-holding my hand
I’ll keep you by my side
With my superhuman might
It is so rare to see mark of a true hero - humility - being a part of the western narration. Rarer still to see it presented as an understandable and everyday part of human relations.
You called me strong, you called me weak,
But still your secrets I will keep
You took for granted all the times
I never let you down
You stumbled in and bumped your head,
If not for me then you'd be dead
I picked you up and put you back on solid ground
I love how he shows commitment as strength and shows power as a tool, not an end in itself - and he does this through accepting vulnerability, through continuing and building his relationship with - no less than! - Kryptonite.
There’s a short quote on Wikipedia of Brad commenting the lyrics and he says:
"That song seems like it's really just kind of like asking a question. Its question is kind of a strange one. It's not just asking, “If I fall down, will you be there for me?” Because it's easy to be there for someone when they're down. But it's not always easy to be there for somebody when they're doing good. And that's the question it's asking. It's like, “If I go crazy, will you still call me Superman?” It's asking, “If I'm down, will you still be there for me?” But at the same time, “If I'm alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?”
There are a lot of unknowns in a man’s (not necessarily a male man) life - a lot of “dark side of the moon”s that present themselves with randomness we cannot exert our control over. Additionally, they are not always outside of ourselves either. Some unknowns even aren’t inherently bad things, but even they can introduce lot of disruption into relationships, sometimes much more than bad things.
To keep one’s head up and choose to be a hero against certainties and not odds, in my book that is what makes the difference between man and scenery. Person and still life.
And it’s never too late to become a hero.