“I never thought you were a fool
But darling, look at you.
You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight
‘Cause tears are going nowhere baby.”
The above lyrics from U2’s “Stuck in a Moment” offered me the perfect Monday morning “talking to” today. When I wake up on Monday mornings, I spend the first 5 minutes thinking through different excuses for how to get out of going to work. This morning, I was slightly cheered by my plan to wear the most kick-ass shoes I currently own (superficial but true).
They are pretty comfortable, but I wouldn’t want to walk very far in them. Not farther than from my parking spot to my office, for example.
However, when I got to my office this morning, in my shoes, carrying my purse, my lunch bag, and my coffee, I realized that I had forgotten my glasses (I was wearing my prescription sunglasses). So unless I wanted to spend the day in sunglasses, which a few colleagues suggested that I do, I would have to walk (or rather, mountaineer, given the height of my heels) back to the car, drive home, get my glasses, drive back to work, and walk back to my office.
Fortunately I only live about 10 minutes from work, so I could easily do this, annoying as it was (and disturbing as well, since I had been holding my glasses in my hand three seconds before I walked out the door and couldn’t remember leaving them on the counter). But I bickered with myself the whole way home and back, feeling sure that this was an indication of how my week was going to go. But fortunately again, I had “Stuck in a Moment” playing in the car:
“You’ve got to get yourself together
You’ve got stuck in a moment
And now you can’t get out of it
Don’t say that later will be better
Now you’re stuck in a moment
And you can’t get out of it.”
I’m trivializing this song by relating it to something as tedious as forgetting my glasses at home. This song is really about being willing to hear the message: “Get yourself together and live your life because you only get one. Oh, and stop complaining about the things that don’t really matter.”
“You are such a fool
To worry like you do.. Oh
I know it’s tough
And you can never get enough
Of what you don’t really need now
My, oh my.”
I love this song because it’s so human. It recognizes that we get ourselves stuck in moments, we clamor after what we want but don’t really need, and sometimes the moments aren’t just petty, complainy ones. Sometimes they are terrible, painful, life-altering.
“I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm ’til you discover how deep.
I wasn’t jumping, for me it was a fall
It’s a long way down to nothing at all.”
A student came into my office this morning, stuck in “a moment” of depression and anxiety so overwhelming he could not make eye contact; he could barely stand, let alone speak.
Obviously I could not tell him to “stand up straight, carry your own weight, cause tears are going nowhere, baby.” However, I had several “moments” about a year ago when I experienced wave after wave of debilitating anxiety, and one of the most helpful encounters I had was with a therapist who said to me, “You are going to have to walk through this. Living like this is not what you are here for. You are not here for this. And you are going to have to walk through it.” It was sympathy, but with an edge. And that was something I could give him.
The other human thing I love about this song is that it is obnoxiously brave, and it inspires bravery. Telling people that they are strong helps them believe they are strong. This song believes that we are more than the “moments” that bring us down, no matter how far down, how deeply stuck. More than that, it insists that we are stronger, that we are here for more than being stuck.
And finally, the thing I love most about this song is that it saves the best message for last:
“And if the night runs over
And if the day won’t last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass…
It’s just a moment
This time will pass.”
Bono sings this last part with a gospel choir kind of sound, and it is so huge and gorgeous. It also softens the edgyness of the rest of song with this timeless message: “This too shall pass.”
You can watch the video for “Stuck in a Moment” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emFUtuotHL4
And you can read William Blake’s poem “You don’t believe,” below. An excerpt: “That is the very thing that Jesus meant/When he said: ‘Only believe.” Believe and try,/Try, try, and never mind the reason why.”
You don’t believe
You don’t believe — I won’t attempt to make ye.
You are asleep — I won’t attempt to wake ye.
Sleep on, sleep on, while in your pleasant dreams
Of reason you may drink of life’s clear streams
Reason and Newton, they are quite two things,
For so the swallow and the sparrow sings.
Reason says ‘Miracle’, Newton says ‘Doubt’.
Aye, that’s the way to make all Nature out:
Doubt, doubt, and don’t believe without experiment.
That is the very thing that Jesus meant
When he said: ‘Only believe.” Believe and try,
Try, try, and never mind the reason why.