You fell in love with a dying star
Noah Gundersen's new song and our perpetual mourning
Readers, every so often I come to you in such a way that This Is The Way is like a confessional booth, where I offer up my failures as a parent, spouse, and friend in hopes that someone out there finds it relatable.
A few days ago, I was in the car with my daughter. The details of the story aren’t super important, but what I’ll say is that she was being less than warm & bubbly. Go figure, adolescents can be grumpy. I was in a pretty good mood that day, up until this point. The tude’ did not crash over me like waves striking rocks. I didn’t remain firm and unmoved. I threw some attitude back. The way she was acting made me angry. Like really angry.
Later in the evening, I had calmed down and took a few minutes to reflect on the day. Needless to say, I wasn’t proud of how I acted in the car. I was vengeful, short-tempered, and contemptuous. I remember glaring in such a way that it could have frozen a wildfire. I searched my feelings for why.
Then came the song. Haunted House….a new track from Noah Gundersen that I saw had just debuted on Spotify.
It’s a beautiful song. Very restrained for two minutes and explodes into a big finish. The song is tragic feeling. I can’t say I know what it’s really about. The song evokes imagery of questioning the reason for certain events, and the idea of emotional baggage filling up physical spaces. Houses are haunted by unsettled spirits, by things left undone, and by stories not granted a proper conclusion.
There was one lyric I understood though, because I was looking over old home videos of my family. In them, my daughter is about six years old. Precious and simple. Why’d things have to change?
Gundersen belts around the 3:00 minute mark, “You fell in love with a dying star!” And at that moment my search was complete. The feelings of anger and bitterness that overcame me earlier in the day revealed their true nature.
I was mourning. The tears finally came.
A child is a star. Bright. Beautiful. Distant in a sense, but you know them in your bones. You know them, but then become unfamiliar like a person wearing a disguise. It’s upsetting. Have you ever had a dog who was upset by your Halloween costume? I’ve seen it. They kinda freak out cause your shape has changed, and they can still smell you…but they can’t see you, not like you were before.
Kids change. Lord, every day they change. The fads, the interests, the fashion, the moods. They change and you want to stop it.
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You’re mourning, constantly, while still trying not to miss the beauty of what’s still right in front of you. A parent loves their child with a whole heart, unconditionally. But you fall in love with versions of them. Then they’re gone.
Fear and anger are the most intimate of partners. Feeding on one another.
I knew at that moment, listening to Noah Gundersen croon that I was once again being led by fear, and expressing it through the empty vessel of anger.
You fell in love with a dying star
A failing liver and a broken heart
But if you can love me for all that I'm not
I'll give you the rest of what I've got
What happens when a star dies? I actually had no idea, so I Googled it a few minutes ago. I might not fully understand it (my wife would) but it seems they are gone forever. When a star’s core runs out of hydrogen fuel, it contracts under the weight of gravity (of nature) and over a billion years the light goes out. What is left in its place is…..you guessed it, exquisite.
A lost star takes a new form as a black or white dwarf and becomes a number of different astrological phenomenons over many centuries. They make up the tapestry that is our galaxy. Colorful. Vibrant. Textured. Like spilled paints on a black canvas.
Parents love their children. If you’re a parent, you don’t need a reminder to love your child. But I suppose I needed a reminder to not be too in love with versions of my child, and maybe you do too.
If you don’t have children, guess what, this applies to all parts of life in an ever-changing world. Don’t get too attached to things that will inevitably change. You can love something, but if you need it to stay the same for you love it, you’re in for a world of hurt.
Check out “Haunted House” by Noah Gundersen. I’ll end with the final words of the song…”But if you can love me for all that I'm not…I'll give you the rest of what I've got”
This is the way.
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New podcast you gotta hear
We have a new episode Walk The Way posted featuring, author of the upcoming book THE SOUL OF CIVILITY. This will be a hit book, so you should get out ahead of it and pre-order. Seriously, it was just featured as a recommended book for Malcolm Gladwell’s book club.