01 October 2015

there's nothing better than the right book dropping into your life at the right time.  i haven't listened to jewel's music since i was a teenager, but last week i stumbled upon a review for her memoir "never broken" and it struck a chord.

so last thursday afternoon as i drove away from austin for an impromptu roadtrip, i pushed play on the "never broken" audiobook and jewel's story became the soundtrack for my journey eastward.  the book immediately brought me to tears, and would so many more times during my trip.  there are certain aspects of her childhood that are deeply relatable to me, as well as the way she works through things as an adult.  she repeatedly talks about turning to writing, music, and nature for solace and understanding, as she's spent most of her life in isolation and solitude.  she talks about navigating the music industry, and the importance of keeping your integrity intact when so many don't.  and she talks about trusting your instincts over absolutely everything else.

i listened to the book in full two times during my trip to tennessee and down the natchez trace parkway through mississippi.  the natchez trace is full of history both painful and hopeful and paired with the book, they were the perfect ingredients for the closure i needed for a painful and confusing situation that has lasted for years.  

from the book:
"Under extreme duress, especially as a child, I would disassociate, just shut down and become robotic when the stress or emotions were too overwhelming.  I could basically pop out of my body.  Shut down my thoughts and leave.  The effects of dealing with long-term stress were more subtle; I was not even aware I was doing it.  I just got tough, and a bit desensitized to the anxiety.  It was a dangerous habit, because our feelings are our best defense system; if prolonged trauma becomes the norm, you become desensitized to pain, and cut off your ability to perceive danger as well.  We learn to tolerate the intolerable - a problem that would vex me for decades."

just because you are strong enough to tolerate something, doesn't mean you should.  the wrong people will sense your strength and take advantage of it for their own gain, for as long as you let them.  the real strength is in remaining sensitive, facing the pain, feeling it, and walking away when it becomes too much.  if it feels wrong, it is wrong.  if it feels poisonous, it is poisonous.  stay true to yourself, don't compromise, trust your instincts.

goodbye alice in wonderland, by jewel:

"it's four in the afternoon
i'm on a flight leaving L.A.
trying to think about my life
my youth scattered along the highway

fame is filled with spoiled children
they grow fat on fantasy
i guess that's why i'm leaving
i crave reality

so goodbye alice in wonderland
goodbye yellow brick road
there is a difference between dreaming and pretending
i did not find paradise
it was only a reflection of my lonely mind wanting
what's been missing in my life

yes a heart can hallucinate
if it's completely starved for love
it can even turn monsters
into angels from above

you forged my love just like a weapon
and you turned it against me like a knife
you broke my last heartstring
but you opened up my eyes

so goodbye alice in wonderland
goodbye yellow brick road
there is a difference between dreaming and pretending
that was not love in your eyes
it was only the reflection of my lonely mind searching
for what's been missing in my life

and growing up is not the absence of dreaming
it's being able to understand the difference
between the ones you can hold
and the ones that you've been sold
dreaming is a good thing cause it brings new things to life
but pretending is an ending that perpetuates a lie
forgetting what you are
seeing for what you've been told

oh, truth is stranger than fiction
and this is my chance to get it right
life is much better without all of your pretty lies

so goodbye alice in wonderland
you can keep your yellow brick road
cause there is a difference between dreaming and pretending.."

jewel's honesty, strength, openness, and integrity are truly inspiring.

natchez trace parkway, september 27, 2015