If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, you know I would
If I could I would
Let it go
Bono speaks to me. In song. He has for 25 years now.
Bono is the master of giving voice to emotions. Anthemic monstrous tunes amplify our tiny inner feelings. So juxtaposed and seamless at the same time.
I used to be one of those fans that got all caught up in the music and lyrics. I used to collect rare records, posters and books. I used to go to as many concerts as I could.
Then life got in the way. I got all responsible. And they got all gargantuan.
Every so often I rewind myself to 1989. Just me and the music. And every time I get washed away. They’re still a fierce storm.
I’m turning 40.
It’s a funny thing, these birthdays.
I attach so much importance to them. It’s the one day in the year where I have permission to celebrate ‘me’. And I want the people that are dear to me to celebrate me too. And because I place so much importance on it, it backfires.
Let it go.
I have a birthday crisis every year. Come the 1st of January I know there are about 3 and a half weeks to get myself worked up over my age, and to reflect back on my life with regrets. Am I really the person I want to be? Am I living the life I want to live?
There’s a sadness I’ve carried around like a heavy stone in my pocket. Some days I can’t even describe to you what it is. But it’s stayed with me for almost as long as Bono has been speaking to me. It’s held me back from so many things.
I took it out of my pocket the other day. Flung it as far as I could.
Let it go.
I’ve spent most of my 40 years being a nomad.
Wandering. Not just my feet.
I used to think I was lost. But now I know I was just homeless.
I’ve lived in 4 countries, 3 Australian states, 14 houses. Gone to 8 schools and had 8 jobs. Nine years ago I moved from Sydney to Melbourne. I had no idea then how I’d feel now. How I still feel like I don’t belong.
Who am I? Way down deep there, I know who I am. But I am multi-dimensional and multi-layered throughout my own history. There are fragments of my soul scattered in all corners of this planet.
I’ll probably never belong to a place. That’s okay. I will always will belong to the people who were nomads with me – my parents and my two sisters. And of course now I belong to Mr G and my two little ones. These seven people are my home.
Moses wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Seems timely to shirk off my wilderness funk too.
I’m 40. I’m on my way home.
So I’m pulling myself out of the birthday crisis pit.
Really. One day. I will. Get over myself.
Right now I have some friends who are in a far deeper pit. They are refugees. And they’re sitting just down the road from you and me. Locked up. I can’t imagine feeling as homeless as they do.
Right now there are people living in unthinkable poverty. I used to live next door to some of them when I was a child in East Java. You never forget the faces of beggars at your door.
Right now there are people being swallowed by their demons. Numbing their pain and staggering through the aching inches of each day. I can’t even imagine the depths of their pits.
I’ve had a good 40 years.
Freedom. Opportunity. Love. I’ve had these.
Life is short, be kind.
Life is short, speak up for others.
Life is short. I know this. I really know this.
I didn’t even think I’d make it to 40. That long night in my hospital bed. Tubes poking out of my chest. Piercing pain in my gut. I saw my own funeral in the darkness that night. I heard the music. I begged it to stop. Not yet.
Eight years ago I got the best birthday present in the world.
A second chance. Fresh marrow.
Life is short.
This is a song about justice and mercy.
It’s called 40. Not about me, not about my forty years. It’s my prayer for those who need a second chance, who need justice to be sung.
How long to sing this song?
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lift me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song