Enslaved No More: Chris Cornell Reflections

Losing Chris Cornell hurts. Truth is, I usually don’t give a shit when some celebrity dies. What’s it really matter to me? Some rich, famous person passed away. They probably lived a good life, never knew me, and I never knew them. But this one turns my stomach and brings tears to my eyes.

Maybe it’s because his lyrics spoke to me.  I still can belt out “Like a Stone” dead on and discovered that, somehow, I wasn’t a hack when I channeled my inner Chris at Karaoke night.  His searching, his soulfulness, his spirituality, his solitary dance with sobriety and sanity- they were all mine too.  One time after I nailed singing it, some random stranger said it sounded good but found it a little dark and disturbing.  Guess she just didn’t understand- but he did and so did I.  His lyrics gave voice to the ups and downs, the questions and confusions, the pain and the pleasure that I knew well.

Maybe it was his voice.  Distinct, driving, and raspy, he soothed me when I needed to be soothed and often revved me up and pushed me through a run or a therapeutic session throwing weight around at the gym, like an animal in a cage.  He was there after an early mid-life crisis, including snapping my Rage Against the Machine CDs in half and throwing them away.  Who was I to proclaim I “Raged Against the Machine” anymore when I was enslaved by a job, a home, a cable bill, and my business casual wardrobe brought to me by Macy’s?  But Audioslave and Soundgarden had the sound I loved with the words that captured a new struggle and promised a new hope.  A little less rage but just as much disillusion, not as much nihilism but a continued acknowledgement of difficulty peppered with resilient individuality and perseverance.  Still looking for my place and my peace, his passion and perspective became the soundtrack for a decade in my life.

Maybe it was his life.  His song lyrics became a gateway to reading articles and interviews in which I discovered a man unapologetically himself- a survivor of addiction, a battler with depression, a poet who pursued his vision, a philosopher who morphed to find his truth, a loner who found solace and expression in his art, who discovered his most effective method for communication were words on a page and notes on an instrument.  His life was a journey including euphoric moments and black days but he was open with the world in each changing season and mood, allowing me to feel like I knew him and pushing me to better know myself.

Maybe it’s just me.  I cry for him knowing that the tears are for myself.  His battles with addiction are mine.  His dances with depression are some of the only steps I know.  His questions about faith voice my own doubts but, just like me, his exclamations about the beauty of life often overflow.  His ability to produce words that one day inspire and another day destroy are my words too.  His unwavering individuality is something I can only aspire to possess.  I can only hope that I find my own voice, my own lines, my own unique pitch as well.

This morning when I saw the news at first there were still questions- how did he die? did the hard living catch up? did the drowning weight of addiction pull him back down? Now I read that the cause was suicide- death by hanging in a hotel room after another rousing night on the stage.  And it hurts even more.

I can only hope and pray that somewhere Chris Cornell is in a room, waiting patiently and peacefully, surrounded by other beautiful souls finally free from the torment created by our flawed flesh and exacerbated by our perplexing world.  Death by suicide is not a morally wrong choice- it is a fatal symptom born of a devastating disease.  The darkness of depression never gets distinguished- perhaps it gets pushed away into the attics of our minds but it’s always there lurking, waiting for free reign and a chance to cast its blindfold over our eyes.

Chris Cornell’s art lives on and, therefore, in some way he does too-that is the beauty of being an artist.  But this one hurts because he was more than a celebrity; oddly enough, he was a friend.  “Be yourself,” he advised, “is all that you can do.”  I just wish that he was still with us to be himself too.

 

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Facing F.E.A.R.

just Fuck Everything And Run

made me feel undone

dark clouds replaced the sun

mistakes had weighed a ton.

 

Pain An Impulse always Near

trapped me frozen stuck in fear

saw no safe place I could steer

paralyzed far from the clear.

 

Finally now I see New Day

spring arrives in month of May

sunshine lighting my new way

drying out death and decay.

 

Healing Old Pains in the End

not a break but just a bend

suddenly I’m on the mend

from ashes rising to transcend

 

to Fly Unfettered Courage Key

to light horizon that I see

forging new reality

regrets removed at last I’m free.

 

Perhaps All I truly Need

is to kill each fear just like a weed

no more crying when I bleed

move right on, plant one more seed.

 

At last Night conquered by bright Dawn

I’m not consumed by what went wrong

won’t live resigned to be a pawn

finding new life I press on.

 

Face Everything And Recover

confronting clouds that hover

dance freely with another

renewal now my lover.

Im/perfect Mask

You always say your fine,

You give the same old line.

Wearing a perfect mask,

You hide when others ask.

Inside emotions boil,

Your mind infertile soil

With weeds and rocks, decay-

Illusion saves the day.

They pass without a clue

Of hidden shades of blue;

They rush on breezing by,

Internally you cry.

Some days you drop your guise,

A break from feeding lies

With hopes that they will care;

Instead you feel them stare.

Again you wear your face

As nothing can replace

That old familiar trick-

A façade when feeling sick.

I guess it’s just your style-

You hide behind a smile.

You always say your fine,

You give the same old line.

Turned Around

Addiction

Knows no face

Confined to no place

Becomes first in ev’ry race

Slowing its victims’ pace

Leaving behind only waste.

 

Addiction

Calls all names

Anonymity or fame

Devours pride, feeding shame

Leaves prey limping lame

Only losers in this game.

 

So stand up

Overcome predeliction

Cast aside all restriction

A bold new prediction-

Defeat this affliction

Addiction.

 

Don’t give up

You’re still in contention

Release all the tension

It’s all in perception

A brand new direction-

Redemption.

 

 

 

 

 

Evening Breeze

Some days, it’s true, I ponder death before I grow weak, never having to stutter as I strain to speak or fight my protesting joints as they begin to creak, while witnessing my crumbling physique…

If only I could corner youth one more day- hold on to the high points, stop time in fresh May- when young life emerges long before decay. Why can’t this stay?

But seasons pass and so do the years, as smiles fade replaced by fresh tears. A new stage of life becomes all too clear: as this body fades so will my fears?

An athlete dying young never knows loss, an artist’s tragic end eludes cloudy gloss, a traveler’s quick exit gathers no moss.

Still, as each day comes to close, the colors of sunset are that of a rose and fragrant scents still fill up my nose. I’m tired and tried from highs and lows, still and silent as evening wind blows.

No need to rush any time in my life- hold on to success, hold strong in strife, accepting each moment as my blessed wife.

Those moments I realize there’s no time to waste, no flavors to discard without one small taste, no reason to run from what hasn’t been faced, no point in skipping any parts of this race.

My body may fail, my mind might rewind, my heart may tremor- but it’s always my time.

 

Unfinished

Please be kind, can’t seem to find the right words on my mind, get me out of this bind, help me find meaning in the grind. Can’t press rewind…

Take a step back, regain what I lack, restore sacred pact or stop the hue from fading black. I’m under attack…

Slinging arrows at my own heart, stumbling before I start, bumbling and fumbling my own part, seeking solace in art, trying not to fall apart…

At the seams, stuck in a bad dream, hanging onto a beam, losing steam, just wanting to redeem…

Myself. Refind where I once was,remind myself of the because, rekindle flames of lost love, restore that fading vibrant buzz, remind myself that all does…

Have meaning, opportunities for redeeming, visions worth believing, moments for resteaming, ways of finally cleaning…

The stains soiling my days, storms shrouding my ways, vision clouded with haze. I want to raze…

Burn it all down to the ground, silently cleanse without a sound; next comes the rebound, proclaiming at last lost but found. I fall down…

On my knees, saying please make this disease cease and help me seize the keys to times of ease and calmer seas.