Truth in Lyrics

I’m a sap for good song lyrics. I have been for as long as I’ve known what song lyrics are, I think. And the other day, as I was driving, a song with especially poignant lyrics came on. That song was Pacing the Cage by Bruce Cockburn. Now, I was blessed with a mom who likes good music, so this song has been in my life for quite some time. I have always thought it was beautiful and I have struggled to learn the guitar chords many times, but I never found myself relating to the lyrics quite as closely as I did this time around.

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage

After hearing the song, I did some research to find out a little bit about what Bruce Cockburn was thinking when he wrote the song (because I’m a nerd to the max). In the quotes I found, Cockburn talked about finding yourself in a place, having gotten there willingly or through your own efforts, and realizing it is not the place that you thought it was and not the place where you want to be. In a sense, this can make a person feel as if they are going nowhere. Personally, I was reminded when listening to the song about my weight loss journey. Losing weight was the one thing that I thought I and everybody around me desired more than anything else. I used it as a way to prove my worth to everyone else so that I could finally feel that I was okay. I had poured every ounce of my energy, and then some, into this seemingly wonderful endeavor only to find that it left me in the most miserable state of my life. I was not happy. I was not more popular. I was not a better person. I was depressed, cold, lonely, starving, and self-involved. I felt incredibly, painfully screwed over.

The last two years have certainly led me through dark places, and there have been many times when I have felt like I was blindly walking with no map to show me the way. And now, I’m pacing the cage. I’m ready to move on to the life that I truly want, not one where I am trying to prove myself or change myself to fit into any mold, but one where I am pursuing my own happiness.


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