Do you ever find yourself randomly singing a song? Well, as a singer I do it all the time. But there's always this weird thing that happens, when I stop to think about the lyrics of whatever song popped in my head, it's always a reflection of something going on in my life. I've recently been humming, "It all fades away," beautifully sung by Steven Pasquale in The Bridges of Madison County. When this show hit Broadway, it's as if every single moment was leading to this one statement; this glorious crescendo that left an entire theatre speechless including me. Why? Well, duh, I mean, no one sings like Steven (skip to 2:50 above and you'll see)... but, it's more than that. It's the truth behind this statement, "It all fades away..."
I was just with a good friend who's starring in Cinderella on Broadway and we randomly started talking about how there is no such thing as job security anymore. Actually, that's a lie; we first started ranting about how hard it is for actors to make it these days, even when "you've made it." Then we tried to justify this by saying, "Well, there is no such thing as job security anymore, so screw it!" Which is actually not so far off base. For my generation, we're not going to enter the workforce expecting to retire at age 65 after working for the same company for over 25 years. My Mom did that, or does that, and she's not going anywhere anytime soon. She's put in her time and will reap the benefits (literally). And if that's what you're expecting nowadays... then, well, good luck. Granted, there are varying levels of job security these days but even the recent law graduates have seen a 10% drop in employment rates, making it hard for them to find jobs. I mean look at the cast of Bridges... now what? One day the marquee lit up the streets of New York City, the next day the lights went dark Hopefully, this cast can move on to the next show because they're all incredibly talented!
So where does that leave us? Everything that we've accumulated in the external world eventually fades away... great! Well, the whole point of this song is the last part of that phrase... "It all fades away BUT YOU." Maybe I was a little misleading in not adding the "but you." Here's the bridge to the Bridges song...
There is one thing that's eternal,That cannot be torn apart,There is one thing that remains forever true.Past the thinking, past the breathing,Past the beating of my heart,It will all fade away but you.It all fades away, it all fades away,It all fades away but you.
The one thing that doesn't fade away is love... and dare I say love for yourself?
What if that 'you' in the lyrics literally meant you? Your inner self? Now in context of the show, of course he's singing about the love of his life... but even she faded away because he couldn't hold on to her. Eventually, she was only a memory and the only thing he's left with by the end is himself.
Do you love yourself? Seriously, do you? Kind of a heavy question and you may even feel completely narcissistic in asking it... but if you don't, what will you be left with?
The only control we have over this external world is our inner love. A deep inner love that isn't dependent on the world's circus act. We're constantly trying to walk across this tightrope of life towards some goal on the other side. What happens when someone unexpectedly cuts your tight rope? Or maybe you've reached your goal! Great, then what? I hate to say it, but eventually it... well you know... fades away. Who are you then? The same person you were before all of that...
And if we don't know who that is, then we're in trouble. A lot of us are constantly distracting ourselves away from that inner self. Trust me, I'm guilty of this beyond a shadow of a doubt. I live in New York for God's sakes... the city that's on a hundred mile treadmill... you just keep running, everyday trying to increase the speed, trying to make it to another mile. It's quite heroic actually... the American way. And I love that workout, feeling the sweat of hard work and resilience run down my body. But every once in awhile I'll look around and see the pain of working out on everyone's face... you know what I'm talking about, sort of like we're all holding in a fart that really hurts. And you begin to think, "Man, all this work looks painful." Why are we doing this again? I'm slowly learning to turn off the machine every once in a while before it runs me to the ground. Sometimes I feel guilty taking time to shut it off, sitting back in the souls lounge chair as everyone else keeps increasing the speed... but in the end, all that sweat fades away.
Let's take some time to exercise our well-being. Learning to love ourselves should be one of the highest priorities of all because it's the only way to truly love others. Then maybe we'll find one thing in this world that doesn't fade away...