The other day I was telling a friend that I thought the heartbreak songs he had written were lovely. It was the third anniversary of Zoe’s terminal diagnosis, and when I told him I was listening to more heartbreak songs that evening because it suited my mood, he replied that he hadn’t written any songs that heartbreaking.
That exchange got me thinking about how often people tell me that when they think of Zoe’s story, it puts their own troubles into perspective. I get that, and I know it’s been a life lesson for many people whose lives Zoe touched. It certainly helps me to put everyday disappointments and dramas in their place. Aren’t we all learning over and over not to sweat the small stuff? Actually if you have this completely figured out – please let me know 😉
The flipside of this is that sometimes contemplating someone else’s sad story can make you feel you don’t have the right to your own sorrows and heartbreak, because your story or situation didn’t have such a tragic outcome, or because your are not the clear cut victim of something so profoundly and obviously unfair. In other words that you are unworthy of it.
But here’s the thing about heartbreak. You can’t compare yours to the next person’s and judge it as being more or less worthy. Just as you can’t think that your joy and happiness is any more or less joyous or deserved than anybody else’s. As Plato said, be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. That includes you. You can’t deny your own story or heartbreak, you’ve got to own it and feel it in order to heal it in your own way.
And once you’ve written your songs (or listened to them if you’re untalented like me), planted your garden, journalled your way through it, seen a therapist, made your prayer flag, got a new tattoo, whatever it takes to heal your particular heart, if you can move forward with an open heart, willing to risk more heartbreak in in order to attain joy, then I think you are winning at life.
There is a verse from Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. An earlier version of me would interpret this to mean don’t give your heart away too easily, don’t let anyone in so you can make sure no-one breaks it.
Now I choose this to mean, guard the openness of your heart. Don’t let it shrivel up from disuse, become bitter and cold. Be open to letting new people in, allowing them see you for who you truly are so that you have the privilege of seeing their true selves. Sure, there might be more heartbreak in your future, but a heart is a pretty resilient thing. As long as your blood still pumps through it, there is possibility.
If you need some beautifully crafted heartbreak songs that already sound like classics to listen to, you can listen to Stretch’s Depot Demos here, and if you like them, pay whatever you think they’re worth to download them.