So... Bruce Springsteen...
I am not American and I am not the kind of mid-western desperado he usually sings about (and perhaps also sings for) but for all that, I have always felt a great empathy for the characters he so richly describes in song. Until recently I was never really sure why. Today, while thinking about something that I have really struggled with in this life, a Bruce Springsteen song came to mind. “Trapped”, it is called. Give it a listen. If for some reason this kind of music isn’t your cup of tea (de gustibus non est disputandum) then you can skip it. I’ll tell you why it’s relevant anyway.
The point is that many of Mr Springsteen’s characters is that they find themselves in this life, in this world, in circumstances that seem beyond their control. They do what they can to find joy where they can. And sometimes they do crazy things and bust loose and end up cycling down into self-destruction. But for all that there is a major chord in the music. For all that, there is somewhere in all of this, an irrepressible sense that somehow it will all work out. Somehow it is all going to be okay. Even if the lyrics don’t so much as hint at redemption, there is the implicit feeling of it that rings through my heart whenever I crank up the stereo and let Bruce do what he does best: Rock.
So what does any of this have to do with a guy from, in almost every sense, the other side of the world from Bruce’s characters?
I imagine we have all felt trapped. Trapped in the circumstances of our lives, sometimes. But, if I am totally honest, I find I have almost always feel trapped inside this life. Like my skull is a prison and I am trapped inside it. I am stuck inside this body, inside this persona, inside this identity. I am locked away behind these eyes, looking out. Sucked down onto planet Earth by gravity. Trapped into the slow, relentless, one-way passage of time. Blocked in my ability to process, think and reason by what can actually pass through the wet-ware inside this skull.
I really, really do feel abominably limited, blocked, stymied, stuck and, yes, trapped.
You see the real problem is that I know I am truly limitless and immortal. I know this persona in this body is not the real me. I know I am the eternal spirit being that is actually creating this personality and, temporarily, inhabiting it. But knowing this doesn’t help. It just makes things worse. If this life was all I knew, I’m sure I would accept it more readily. But I remember and I know. I can’t tell you how. Perhaps you have the same kinds of remembering and knowing about yourself? if you do, you’ll know it doesn’t come from this mind. It comes from before this mind. But it lies there deep within. A knowing that is beyond reason or rhyme. A surety that cannot be shaken. I know that I am a being of limitlessness. But for me, specifically I also know that I usually fly free, flitting from reality to reality. That I am pure luminous life force made manifest as a creature of playful delight. That I have magnificent gifts to give. That I bring joyous transformation wherever I go. I know these things about the real me. And so, in comparison, this life feels like a set of heavy chains indeed.
And like Bruce’s characters I have tried to find joy where I could. Tried to escape as I could. Sought refuge where I could. Bust loose sometimes. Spiralled down into self-destruction more deeply than I care to share a few times. All of that. I might never have visited Nebraska, I might never have been laid off from a union job in a refinery. And I might never have gone racing with souped up V8 Chevy. Or any of the other tropes in Springsteen songs. But I have felt all of that desperation. All of that trapped-ness.
But the thing is this. Just as I know all the things about my soul that I have outlined above, I also know the corollary: The person that is trapped and lost is not who I am. It is a persona. An identity. It is a set of self-limiting beliefs I have created and am, temporarily, for the duration of this incarnation, inhabiting. The Inner-Self that has created this persona and then inhabited it, is who I really am. And the Inner-Self is vast beyond the scope of this persona’s imagining. And the Inner-Self truly adores this persona that it has created. And the Inner-Self has never been willing to abandon this persona to its lot.
So, all I need to do to save myself is allow myself to connect with the divine within and remember who and what I really am. Then I remember that I am here on purpose. And that this is but a blink in time and then it is all over. And more than that, Mr Springsteen, these are actually my Glory Days.