Soundtrack of a Life Apocalypse

I desperately want to write, but I can’t find the words.

There are, however, so many words. Words set to music that have been my comfort, my motivation, my lifeline, my determination, my soundtrack. I hesitate to share them with you: family, friends, and Internet strangers because, although they are mostly well-known, sharing them with you is like sharing a piece of my soul.

However, the only thing that has kept me from suffocating in this prolonged stint of writer’s block are these words written by others that have spoken on behalf of my plugged up soul. So here are a few words: 15 songs, excerpts of the path I’ve tread, a starting point on the path back to finding my own voice again in the aftermath of my Life Apocalypse.

To fully immerse yourself in this journey, follow along with my Spotify playlist.

1. “Little Lion Man” – Mumford & Sons

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really f*cked it up this time
Didn’t I, my dear?

What can I say, the simple straightforward words I needed to hear from him, but never did, I took solace in Mumford & Sons singing them to me on repeat those first fearful nights alone.

2. “Youth” – Daughter

And if you’re still breathing you’re the lucky ones,
Cuz most our feelings they are dead and they are gone,
We’re setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting pictures from the flood that wrecked our home,
It was a flood that wrecked this home.
…And you caused it…

When I felt like I couldn’t do anything more than simply breathe laboriously through the pain he caused, I found hope in these words, that to simply breathe was a victory.

3. “Hallelujah” – Pentatonix

Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah…

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

It’s not a cry that you hear at night, it’s not somebody who’s seen the light, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah…

Christmas is my favourite time of year, but having what little remained of my heart smashed to dust just before it… this was the only Christmas song I could bear to listen to. It’s not a happy song. But not everyone’s Christmas is always happy, and that’s why this song exists.

4. “Beautiful Things” – Gungor

All this pain, I wonder if I’ll ever find my way, I wonder if my life could really change, at all…

You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust.
You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.

You make me new, You are making me new.

This was the big one which I’ve shared about before. Without this song on repeat, without the comfort and hope it gave me… I shudder to think…

5. “Shooting Star” – Owl City

Close your tired eyes, relaxing them
Count from one to ten and open them
All these heavy thoughts will try to weigh you down, but not this time
When the sun goes down, and the lights burn out,
Then it’s time for you to shine
Brighter than a shooting star, so shine no matter where you are

The song that helped me crawl out of despair and back to some semblance of my self, inspiring me to live again, to rediscover that single sparkle despite the suffocating darkness I found myself in.

6. “My Jumper” – Joe Mungovan

Take everything you need and
Take everything you see
Don’t take everything but me

I thought that you’d be the one to be there for me but obviously
my thoughts and views of you were wrong
cuz that’s my jumper you had on
you gave it back and now you’re gone.

When we approached the difficult task of dividing our things, it seemed he wanted to keep nearly every thing from our former life… everything but me. I had no wish to fight, and no real desire to keep much of what we’d once shared despite the possible economic reasons for doing so. He could keep the wine glasses and the memory foam mattress and the Japanese video game collection we built together. I would keep me. That was more important anyway.

7. “Sleep On The Floor” – The Lumineers

Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out
I was not born to drown

I did not hear this song until I had already followed its instructions and was well into my grand adventure in New Zealand, but it affirmed that I had made the right decision. It further inspired me to take a leap of faith, quit my job (over Skype from Australia), apply for a new one, and begin preparations to move myself across the country back from Ottawa to Vancouver upon my return. I have slept on countless floors, couches and spare beds since November and this song has been my reassurance through it all. I was not born to drown.

8. “Polaroid” – Imagine Dragons
All my life I’ve been living in the fast lane
Can’t slow down, I’m a rollin’ freight train
One more time, Gotta start all over
Can’t slow down, I’m a lone red rover
Oh, How did it come to this
Oh, Love is a polaroid
Better in picture
Never can fill the void

Another NZ discovery, this song became my new favourite song to listen to on full blast in the car, or in my headphones just before bed. It helped put things in perspective, helped me figure out what to do with feelings from the past, with feelings about myself, with feelings about the present. “Love is a polaroid.”



9. “Follow the Sun” – Xavier Rudd
Follow, follow the sun,
And which way the wind blows
When this day is done
Tomorrow is a new day for everyone,
Brand new moon, brand new sun
When you feel life coming down on you, like a heavy weight
When you feel this crazy society, adding to the strain
Take a stroll to the nearest waters and remember your place
Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came
So which way is the wind blowin’,
And what does your heart say?

A sunset song. I sought many sunsets and sunrises throughout the course of my Australia/New Zealand trip. Sunsets help me come to terms with endings. Sunrises give me hope for new beginnings. The closer I got to returning to Canada, the more anxiety I felt about my next steps, but these last words helped calm and guide me: “which way is the wind blowing, what does your heart say?”

10. “Hold Me Together” – Loud Harp

I cry out to the one
The one that holds me
Holds me together

When the world crumbles down – You hold me together
When my heart is giving out – You hold me together
When I’m tired and alone – You hold me together
When I’ve lost all I own – You hold me together

When I returned from Australia/New Zealand, I had to get through three final weeks in Ottawa. Combine coming down from the high of an amazing trip with returning to the place where my world fell apart; it was not an easy three weeks, to put it lightly.

11. “White Blank Page” – Mumford & Sons

A white blank page and a swelling rage, rage
You did not think when you sent me to the brink, to the brink
You desired my attention but denied my affections, my affections

So tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart
Oh tell me now, where was my fault
In loving you with my whole heart

When I returned to Ottawa, and before I left it and him behind for good, I had to find a way to get angry. Because I was mostly just very, very sad, but I sensed that I needed to flush out some feelings in the form of anger before I could continue on the path forward. With the help of some close friends, the new perspective gained through prolonged distance, some colourful markers and a white blank page… much progress was made.

12. “Keep Your Head Up” – Ben Howard

Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
Keep your mind set, keep your heart strong.

I saw a friend of mine the other day,
And he told me that my eyes were gleamin’.
Oh I said I had been away, and he knew,
Oh he knew the depths I was meanin’.
And it felt so good to see his face,
Or the comfort invested in my soul.
Oh to feel the warmth of a smile,
When he said “I’m happy to have you home.
Ooh I’m happy to have you home.”

Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
Keep your mind set, keep your heart strong.

“Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.” A good mantra, and I have come back to this song, many times on repeat, to accompany me on the path back/forward to Vancouver. Oh, and that feeling of meeting a friend I haven’t seen in forever that knows, as they welcome me home. “Comfort invested in my soul” is such an amazing way to express that feeling.

13. “Fresh Feeling” – Eels

Birds singing a song
Old paint is peeling
This is that fresh
That fresh feeling

Try, try to forget what’s in the past
Tomorrow is here
Love, orange sky above lighting your way
There’s nothing to fear

Words can’t be that strong
My heart is reeling
This is that fresh
That fresh feeling

Getting to Vancouver, I found that fresh feeling of starting a new and exciting job, finding myself in a place where I feel purpose again; that fresh feeling where I feel like I’m doing something I’m good at, I can be challenged by, I can grow in; that fresh feeling that I found what I was made for and I am exactly where I am meant to be in this moment in time. That fresh feeling of transitioning from recovering something broken, to building something new.  It’s an incredible feeling.

14. Suit and Jacket” – Judah & The Lion

I ain’t trading my youth for no suit and jacket
I ain’t giving my freedom for your money and status
So don’t say I’m getting older
Cause I’ll say it when I do

Cause everybody I know, everybody I know
Is growing old, is growing old too quickly
And I don’t wanna go
So how am I supposed to slow it down so I can figure out who I am?

Some of us surviving
Some of us just roaming
Some of us just hoping the world will move more slowly
And some of us alive
We’re all gonna die one day

Coming “home” to Vancouver after seven years is weird because so many of my friends have since married, had kids, bought houses, settled into stable careers, etc… it’s tempting to compare, to worry I’m being left behind, falling short somehow. But that path is not for everyone, and it’s certainly not for me, not right now, possibly not ever. I’ve never felt more alive than I do now, doing what I’m doing now, because right now I’m savouring every moment of life, for after all we’re all gonna die one day.

15. “Singing In My Soul” – Fly My Pretties

Taking away all my pain
Bring the sun shining through the rain
Take me high to blue skies

I can hear you calling
Calling my name
I can feel you falling again
Into my arms
I got you singing in my soul
I got you singing in my soul

An absolutely beautiful song I was introduced to in New Zealand, I believe this nicely sums up the feeling of how all these songs have melded with my soul. If ever any of the song writers / artists quoted here stumble upon this post, I hope they will know how deeply they have impacted my life, and in many ways saved it, by providing the soundtrack for me to survive and even thrive in the aftermath of this life apocalypse.

What songs are in your life soundtrack right now? What are the songs or song lyrics you turn to when you need encouragement? If you have any new music suggestions for me, please share!

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