This happened to me on a return trip to New Orleans after visiting a good friend in Washington D.C. for a weekend. I absentmindedly wrote it in a note on my phone thinking that I would revisit it later when I got home and only recently rediscovered it this week there at the bottom of my list of random notes and grocery lists. It is a theme that I have struggled with for about three decades. The challenge for 2018 is to embrace both sides of this coin and try to accept my heartbreaks while also to living my life to the fullest when possible.
May 14, 2017
As I fly home, my music plays on shuffle in my noise-canceling headphones. The first song arrives during takeoff and is “Empty Promises” by Black Label Society. It’s a dark, sad, metal anthem from their latest album, “Catacombs of the Black Vatican.” Settling into the instrumentation and the guitar flourishes of Zakk Wylde, I start to read my book. As the next song rolls up, I immediately lose all focus on my book and laugh out loud in the plane because the follow-up song is “Clouds” by Zach Sobiech. There are likely no other two songs in my music library as opposite in style, music, and message than these. Zakk Wylde sings to me of empty promises and destruction of trust, while Sobiech’s song is that of celebrating love and to keep living life to the fullest after the loss of a loved one; in this case, himself. It is a hopeful song he wrote for his girlfriend as he faced a terminal cancer at age 18.In a greater view of my own life, these two selections are so pointedly symbolic of the stark dichotomy playing throughout my brain and body in every aspect I face daily. I have a constant tug to choose one option or another in my words, my actions, my emotions, and even my thoughts. It is a battle I do not always win or choose the best side.
“Empty Promises” by Black Label Society