If you have never heard Anthony Hamilton’s Soul’s on Fire I sincerely encourage you to do so. I look desperately for songs that match the mood that I am going through; I look for music that can take me subconsciously to that plane that allows my fingers to fly without thought. I look for those notes, those refrains, that destroy all my thoughts regarding myself and introduces me to another person. Anthony Hamilton’s Soul’s On Fire will do it for you. An R&B singer, Mr. Hamilton puts the soul in the soul and takes you back to the jazz and blues that once we listened to with so much pain.
I found this song when I found a small wooden sign that simply proclaimed, “My Soul is On Fire.” I realized that for the first time in this long journey that my soul is on fire. It is starting a journey that I may not survive, and inside of it is the pain, the lost sleep, the destruction of my past. Not the past found in a family, not the past found in the arms of a stranger, but the past found in the beauty of lost dreams and the simple days of darkness. There is so much pain in this world, and for me, a believer in the goodness of those around me, a believer that those who love me are in fact right there for me, the honest hope that exists for a friend, this world is a multitude not of disappointment but of moments of lost breath.
I have lost my breath more times over the pain, the darkness in this world than in the truth of love. I have bent my head in agony over and over each time I must realize that there isn’t anyone to hold onto deep in the quiet night. And I have failed to find the promised joy because of the fear that sits right on my breastbone. Some days there is nothing inside of me because of the pain this life has guaranteed that I will know; and some days there is nothing inside of me because I have spent days giving more than anyone should be expected.
In the song, Mr. Hamilton is speaking of a soul on fire, a walking away from all that is good, all that is honorable in this world. Mr Hamilton is acknowledging that he can’t make it a day more but he wants the prayer anyways. It is in many variations what we all want.
However much I like Mr. Hamilton’s song, and even identify with it, it isn’t why I bought the small wooden sign. I bought the small sign in a bid to remind myself that I am finding myself on this journey almost without my permission, that I am taking the steps that will transform my soul from what it once was to a soul that while not only stronger is in many ways more courageous. I need to find the ability to walk away from those who hurt me, even if it is a simple tear, and not feel that I am the one who has done wrong. I have to find the courage to be me, despite what others think, and be able to stand up for the person that I really am. I actually have to like myself. I actually have to understand happiness and contentment; a foreign concept that up until now I haven’t been able to personally define.
I wish I could explain what it is like to hate yourself. I wish that I could make you understand not the goal of this journey – because I don’t have one – but rather what must happen in order to finally hold my head high. I have hated myself, and everything about me for so long, I don’t even know if it isn’t just habit by now. What I do know, what I know deep in my soul, is that to complete this journey there will have to be a moment when I look around and take pride in who and what I am. Take pride in the stretch marks as much as the blemishes on my face; take pride in the wrinkles as much as the muscle definition. I am going to have to learn to accept not the pain of who I believe I am, but accept the person that I am becoming.
But how do I define this journey? There are those that say I don’t have to define something so personal, I simply have to walk the steps. There are those who will attest that there is no need for order and right – but transformation or not I long for it. I am the girl that cleans up the table for the waitress; I am the girl that cleans up the pain for those who do not want to shoulder it. I spend my days and even the hours right before dawn looking for order and understanding. I have spent my life looking for the understanding.
Sometimes I can remember that there is no such thing. There is no such thing as understanding this world that God has built and man’s own demons have destroyed. There is no such thing as being able to take something as simple as our solar system and truly understand the rhymes and rhythms of something so vast. There is no such thing as understanding while my heart beats in this direction the very woman who gave birth to me has a heart that beats very differently.
I can’t take this journey, write the steps on a spreadsheet and mark them off as I accomplish whatever it is I am supposed to actually do. I can’t take this journey and define it for the simple reason there is no definition. This journey doesn’t contain a list of points to mark off, it doesn’t contain a list of chores, or even lessons that I am supposed to finally understand. This journey doesn’t give hints as to what is next, and what world I am finally going to be called to defend. This journey does not allow me the luxury to prepare myself, nor does it allow me the luxury of giving to those around me the answers they are searching so hard for.
This journey could easily make me bitter. It could make me bitter because it doesn’t allow me to travel in a vehicle that I drive. It could destroy me, rather than build a new me, simply by taking my expectations and turning them into disappointments. Because the thing about personal change is that you are required to be personally courageous, especially when you feel that those you once believed in can’t believe in you.
This journey was tattooed on my soul and on my body years ago; I just never truly was capable of seeing it. In order to see what is right in front of you, what you need to know, you have to disregard all the beliefs that once you held. In order to understand the vastness and the incredible beauty of a system of planets, you have to walk away from your own imagination; that belief you have held since you were five years old watching the stars while your mother dragged you to her latest need. You have to let go in this journey, because preconceived notions will literally destroy the powers that are trying to make you full. And that is about as easy as hiking Mt. Etna without oxygen.
On my body is tattooed the letters, “CSFL”. I have never wanted a tattoo that was an obvious message, because I knew it needed to change through my years. And just as I predicted this one has changed not only my belief in my own abilities, but my own belief in the soul that seems to burn so brightly.
Although not important, the letters mean, “Courage, Strength, Faith, Love.” It amazes me that I put love last, as if I knew that it was important but I recognized even years ago that it could not make me true; as if I understood in my infancy that love is simply an illusion we all wish to hold. It is there, it may even be important to you, but for me the things I need in life are my own courage and my own strength. It is the combination of these two factors that I know will finally began to heal me. I put it permanently on my body too many years to count and now, as my soul rages, I find that the need for those elements has grown to encompass my whole world.
I fear this journey, as much as I look forward to this journey. I wonder sometimes if I am not simply making more of this idea of a journey than is strictly necessary. I wonder if my belief in the importance of this journey is nothing more than what millions already understand. I worry that this journey I am fighting to understand is not about courage or strength, but simply an easy path to my own death.