For those of you who know me, you know that one of my biggest inspirations for absolutely everything is my aunt. So it would make sense that my first post here on this shiny new blog would be brought on by a conversation she and I had. She’s the director of the library in my small hometown, and she works closely with the local paper on a column twice a month. The column is usually library related, but she was inspired to do something a little less par for the course by the song Timshel by Mumford & Sons. Naturally, I decided to steal her idea, and make it my own.
Per a lot of statistics(including suicide rates and alcohol sales reports), the most wonderful time of the year is usually also the most depressing time of the year for a lot of people. It tends to echo this emptiness that we all feel through the months a little louder because, from December 1st to January 1st, everything’s merry and bright, and we kick ourselves for not suddenly being cured of our emotional ailments by the strings of Christmas lights and plastic Santas littered all around our respective towns. As far as the most wonderful time of the year being the most depressing, this year wasn’t an exception for my family. We lost my 99-year-old great uncle, and it took a toll on the family in a way I haven’t experienced in my almost 20 years of existence.
So, coming back to Timshel. My aunt (and myself, by proxy) was incited to write something of a think piece based on the lyric, “Death is at your doorstep and it will steal your innocence, but it will not steal your substance” and how that lyric directly relates to these feelings we carry so heavily during this particular season (See? Aren’t you glad you stuck with me this far? Full circle, my friends. Full circle.).
The album that Timshel is on is one of my favorite albums of all time, and I’d heard this song, and therefore these lyrics, many times before. When she read them off in that context, however, they struck a chord with me. Death, in all of its many variations- divorces, breakups, job loss, etc., is a terrifying thing. It robs you of this innocence that you carry with you, and continues to chip away at your remaining innocence each time you encounter it for the rest of your life. I can tell you first hand that in the handful of times I’ve encountered Death (not always in the context of a person passing away), it’s been terrifying, and it has stolen a lot from me, not always the same amount, but always something. There was a moment in my early-mid teens where I’d begun to call it a close friend, even though it was knocking at my door constantly asking me to shell out something else I wasn’t sure I had left. But the one thing I carried with me all throughout the most tumultuous, Death-ridden years of my life (so far) was my substance; was me.
I want to instill that in you as well, dear reader. Death is inevitably gonna come into your life, and open all the doors and windows and throw everything out and run with it. It will take your innocence and knock you down the ladder until your clinging onto the last rung, but unless you give it the power to, it will not take your substance. The things in your life that you are facing may be difficult, and I can’t tell you that Death, in its many forms, isn’t standing around every corner waiting to knock you flat on your ass, because this is life, and people die, and relationships die, and jobs you once loved die, but you will get back up and you will remain you, maybe a different version of you, but still you.
And it’s worth it- remaining you through all of your trials and tribulations is an accomplishment, that you should take wonderful deep pride in.
The title of the song, Timshel, roughly translated in Hebrew means ‘thou mayest’, which is a choice. So I challenge you, my friends, in this new year to choose to prevail in the face of Death. Hold onto your substance and move forward with grace.