“Don’t Look Down”

An excerpt from Marginal Eyes, Chapter Seven

My songwriting had hit a peak in the summer of 2004 when I spent countless hours with my mind and a keyboard. Whereas the lyrics I had written to audition and make my first recording with Tommy were spiritually rebellious, these newer songs had begun to reflect the new perspective I was accepting. For the sake of maintaining a wider listening audience I was careful not to write anything that might come across as preachy, but I shared real feelings framed within the philosophies that I was learning.

First, I had written about my own sense of weariness, as if at twenty four years old I had already lived more than one lifetime. Without realizing it I echoed in my own way the daily struggle voiced by so many Black artists of the past who took up some form of spirituality as their vision of hope.

There was in my case less hope than emotional dissociation in the thoughts and words. I was beginning even then to turn cold towards my humanity in favor of an escape in spirituality. Another song’s lyrics framed the tough love advice to relinquish feelings for things that are gone in the story of a war widow. The grief for what I had lost in the past seemed endless, and I saw no reason for anyone to refuse to move beyond grief, especially if they seemed to be clinging to some idea of God bringing back to them what they lost.

For me valid hope couldn’t be about regaining happiness in this world. Experience had seemed to teach me that was impossible. My brand of hope was about learning how to leave the pain of the world entirely. I had nothing to share with anyone but this dark vision cloaked in transcendence, and my newfound spiritual path seemed to validate and lend strength to it. My motivation in life was once more to benefit the world, but now it was by sharing a message about how to leave the whole damn thing behind.

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