April 13, 2010

And So it Goes, with Thanks to Billy

In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

Bill Joel, And So it Goes

I always have loved Billy Joel, from the time I chose "Uptown Girl" as the song that would be played when it was time for me and the party pals to have the skating rink all to ourselves at my birthday party. I think I was seven.

My favorite song of Billy's is one of the lesser known. It is a beautiful song, one that brings back memories of a long-ago spring break vacation with a high school friend. (Hey, Sarah, are you out there, girl? That week will always be one of my favorite memories from high school, just so you know.)

I always wondered about the words.

It is such a mournful song. What was the inspiration?

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

Did he mourn the lost chance, the failure to say what needed to be said to hang on to a great love?

Did he mourn the fear that kept him from acting, from speaking, from fighting?

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

Did he realize a failure to appreciate the beauty of what was?
And, if so, could there be any greater sorrow? Could there be any greater sadness than to look back on the past and realize an inability to appreciate the beauty, the magnificence, of what was right there in your hands?

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

Don't we all have moments in life where something brings us to our knees, sometimes figuratively, but sometimes, very, very literally -- we actually fall to our knees. In prayer, in worship, in panic ... in absolute desperation.

In these moments, the worst moments of our lives, do we ever speak or act with grace?

Some probably sit silent. They retreat.
Some jump and shout. That group would include me.
I am not one to sit silent.
I am a jumper, a shouter, a screamer.
I frequently speak without processing.
I can't sit still; I can't stand to wait. I have to act. When things feel like they are going to hell in a handbasket, I have to do something, even when I haven't the faintest clue of what to do.

I suppose sometimes silence would be better.

But, sometimes .... sometimes, the silence starts to feel endless. It becomes insurmountable.

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

What is he singing about?
Did he just give up?
But when we close our eyes, simply because they have seen hardship, don't we lose out on so much? If we can't look at the tough stuff, how will we ever appreciate the good?

So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

But what do our choices entail? What do they demand of us?
Don't they require a certain toughness? A total commitment, in good times and bad?

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows.

Yes, time doesn't stop for heartbreak.
Life doesn't end simply because it is turned upside down.

Groceries must be purchsed. Because even if you don't feel like eating, your kids still need food.
Bills have to be paid.
Sicknesses and injuries must be tended.
Decisions must be made.

And children still need to be loved. Every. single. day.
And, yes, sometimes the person at the other end of that heartbreak really is the only one who knows.

And so it goes.


  1. Such a beautiful blog-if you every write a book/shortstory, I will purchase it and devour every word. Dad

  2. I love that song, too.

    Hope you're hanging in there, sister :)