Tuneful Tuesday: Mine

If you’ve ever noticed me occasionally dropping references to Van Halen in this blog, there’s a reason for that. At one point in my life, I actually owned every VH album that had been made up to that point. In fact, the only ones I never owned were III (because it was dreadful), Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (because I already had everything that was on it), and Best of Both Worlds (see previous reason).

One VH song, in particular, played a very prominent role in my life. “Right Now,” the very popular single with an even more popular video from the album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, was actually instrumental in my deciding to become a Christian. I had been considering giving my heart to the Lord and being baptized, so when my impressionable high school brain heard the words of this song, well, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer.

That’s not the song I’m writing about here, though, although this post will discuss another song from the “Van Hagar” era. The album OU812 is not one of my favorites in the VH catalog, but it does have some bright moments, in particular the single “When It’s Love.” While most of the songs on the album are about sex, it’s opening track stands out in fairly stark contrast to the rest of the material.

“Mine All Mine” is the type of song that almost slips past a listener, if they’re not paying attention. It seems deathly serious compared to the other tracks on OU812, starting with the lyric, “Forgive me, Father/For I have sinned/I’ve been through hell and back again.” Sammy Hagar’s sort of fascination with religion would pop from time to time in the VH catalog, most notably in the song “Seventh Seal” from the album Balance. In this particular song, he’s not touting any one religion over another or even really endorsing any religion at all. He just wants people to believe in something.

I have to admit, this song has basically nothing to do with how I’ve thought about depression at any point in my life. I have been thinking about it lately, though, because the concept of grabbing onto something I can call uniquely mine is becoming more and more important to me. Something that doesn’t belong to anyone else, something I will hold onto tooth and nail. Following the crowd and the rules has led to many unhappy points. Whatever “it” is for me, I want it to be mine.


I Love Everybody

For a brief time in my life, when I was in college, I started listening to a lot of Lyle Lovett. There’s actually a story behind that, but it’s not really one I like telling because it has a not-so-good ending, so you’ll just have to guess as to why I started doing this. My favorite album of his is probably Joshua Judges Ruth, although The Road to Ensanada has some really good stuff on it, too. Joshua probably wins out, though, because of “North Dakota,” still one of my favorite songs of all time.

i love everybodyI had a decent collection of Lovett’s albums for a while, although I think I traded them all away over time. One of the more peculiar ones was I Love Everybody. I say “peculiar” because it just had some weird songs on it, like “Fat Babies” and “They Don’t Like Me.” I also thought the title was a little strange. I mean, who loves everybody anyway?

I can’t put my finger exactly on when it happened. Maybe it was after my dad passed away, and I realized I hadn’t told him a lot of things I wish I had. Maybe it was when I turned 40 and realized I wasn’t going to live forever. Maybe it was when I started taking an antidepressant, and my brain chemistry changed. Whatever the case, I’ve not only found myself loving more people these days, I’ve also caught myself telling them so more often than I ever have.

There’s a fine art to telling someone you love them, and it’s one that I haven’t quite mastered yet. I mean, you can’t just blurt it out unannounced, but you can’t really telegraph it either. And you have to have a pretty solid relationship with a person to even think about going there. The danger is, once you do it a few times, it starts to feel surprisingly good, so then you get tempted to just start throwing it out there at random. This, I can tell you from experience, is not such a great idea.

All of this leads up to the question: How do we know if we love someone or not? Well, I don’t know if I’m qualified to answer that question. sammy hagarMaybe Sammy Hagar had it right when he sang “I can’t tell you, but it lasts forever.” In all seriousness, though, it’s a tough call to make. I used to feel as if I didn’t love very many people at all. These days, I’m realizing I love a lot of people I don’t even like all that much. Something just clicks in your heart.

I think my recent affection has something to do with my realization that while not everyone in the world may be dealing with depression, they’re all definitely going through something, and if their something is anything like my something then my heart maclaren[1]goes out to them. Whether it was Plato or Philo of Alexandria or Scottish author and theologian Ian Maclaren who said it, we all should “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” When you touch the bottom of something like depression, you have an urge to not waste any more time in letting the people you care about know how you feel about them. I think this is because we don’t want them going down there, too.

Guess what then? I love you and you and you and you. If you don’t like me saying that, I’ll just apologize now, ’cause I’m probably gonna say it again at some point. I may not love everybody yet, but I’m workin’ on it.

The Big Drop

I am a total wimp when it comes to amusement park rides. Spin me around in circles, and I’m fine; plunge me off some kind drop-off, and I’m praying to God for survival. That feeling of hurtling toward potential death has never done much for me, so I tend to avoid things like roller coasters and log flumes and stick closer to the tilt-a-whirl. Occasionally, though, one of my children will talk me into riding something I almost immediately regret getting on.

This happened a couple of years ago at Disney World. Against my better judgement, I joined my wife and kids on the Splash splash mountainMountain ride. This was fairly early in our day at the park, which meant there would be other attractions to take in from there. As anyone who has ever ridden a log flume before knows, there is that moment when you’re just about to go over the edge of the falls that feels like your stomach is going into your throat and you’re going to drop into nothingness. If I could just avoid that moment, I would be fine.

A funny thing happened after we rode that ride that day. That feeling I just described continued to happen to me, even on rides that were relatively benign compared to the first one. I still remember very clearly going over the small drop-off near the beginning of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and being so nervous I was white-knuckling the metal bar in front of my seat. Even the slightest dip had me on edge the rest of the day. It was unnerving, to say the least.

I am purely speculating here, but I would imagine I experienced a very small, minuscule dose of what it would be like to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Before you think me an idiot, I am in no way comparing a jumpy day at Disney World to having to deal with a post-war or mentally traumatic experience. As the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that “PTSD develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm,” though, it did offer me a tiny, tiny glimpse into what an affliction of this kind might feel like.

MemorialDayFlagI thought on this Memorial Day of that day at Disney World because there are so many military veterans struggling with this very condition. I’ve read heartbreaking accounts from celebrities such as actor Patrick Stewart and singer Sammy Hagar about how their fathers behaved incredibly erratically and irrationally after wartime experiences. I know people with spouses who have been diagnosed with PTSD. I am only a spectator looking in, however. My heart goes out to the soldiers who can’t find peace today, but I feel utterly powerless to help them.

A search of the internet today brought up a few possibilities of PTSD occurrences in the Bible. The most common citing I found was the story of Noah. Long before Darren Aronofsky’s Noah film was released, I had heard people discuss the fact that there were more than likely people outside of the ark who were screaming for help, maybe even banging on the outside of the boat, as the floodwaters rose. Noah had to hear that, but he couldn’t let them in. Following God’s commands is not always an easy task, and Noah basically had to turn his back on his dying neighbors.

Noah’s story takes sort of a nasty turn once the flood is over, as he winds up drunk and naked inside his tent. It’s an odd epilogue to an account of the only righteous man on Earth at the time. King Saul did some pretty nutty stuff later on in life, too, and David’s Psalms are an open book on his fluctuating state of mind as well. Were any of them suffering from what we now call PTSD? We’ll never know for sure, as the type of psychological analysis we employ today is not found anywhere in the Bible. What is for certain, though, is that even good men can go off the rails following traumatic experiences.

I pray today not only for military veterans suffering from this affliction, but anyone who has dealt with it for any other reason as well. Your drop was a lot steeper than mine, and you have to deal with it every day. May we all pray to find ways to ease your burdens and comfort your souls.