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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Recovering from Shattered Dreams and Battered Souls

'I don't know a soul who's not been battered
Don't have a friend who feels at ease
Don't know a dream that's not been shattered
Or driven to its knees.
But it's all right, all right.'
Paul Simon, An American Tune, 1973

The Long Road

With the long road ahead of me during a recent 12-hour road trip I found myself in a quiet, pensive mood. As I looked out the window at the cities and people whizzing by me I thought about the stories of pain and struggle I've heard from both young and old during these incredibly difficult times of change, economic hardship and lack of soul-lifting work.

Facing a long drive together, I decided to engage my husband in conversation to get his thoughts on solving these universal problems.

'If you were in charge of the world', I asked, 'what would you do to help others navigate these difficult times and help them find good jobs while staying upbeat during the down times? How would you advise them?'
We were stumped. We sat in silence for a very long time staring at the road before us as he pondered the issues before speaking, and I sat befuddled, unable to see my way clear. How do you find answers to these questions that are satisfying and useful?

During our extended silence, Paul Simon's 'An American Tune' came on to fill the air between us with words and music written so long ago, quietly speaking to the issues facing people today. I listened as Simon clearly articulated what I was feeling at that very moment but failed to find the words to express:

  • I don't know a soul who's not been battered.
  • I don't have a friend who feels at ease.
  • I don't know a dream that's not been shattered---or driven to its knees.
In that moment I was struck with the humanness of it all--the struggle, the disappointment, and the valiant effort we put into pulling out of 'dreams driven to their knees' back into living the life we imagined. Its the same old story, repeated generation after generation.

Paul Simon wrote the lyrics almost 40 years ago (1973) and put them to music composed by JS Bach, composed almost 300 years ago. Still, the words and music so eloquently speak to the pain we experience today.

It was forty years ago, Simon wrote: 'We come at the age's most uncertain hour.' Yet here we are today, feeling we're the ones who've come at the age's most painful and uncertain hour.

No Easy Answers

We played this song over and over again, as the miles slipped away, so the lyrics could flow over us. As we listened to the song we tossed a few ideas back and forth but it was the song that provided the most ease and truth.

What I know about how to recover from shattered dreams and battered souls isn't much.

There are no easy answers--just this: Sometimes we need to just sit in what we're experiencing to acknowledge the pain without fixing it, knowing we're all in the struggle together.

We need to consciously name the feelings behind the struggle before we can heal and move on. And when we're ready, we need to follow in the footsteps of those who've struggled before us and take the next step.

What You Need to Know to Recover from a Battered Soul and Shattered Dreams

  • You're not alone in your pain and struggles.
  • You're made of strong stuff.
  • Life is full of challenges made easier by sharing the road with others.
  • You have all the ingredients within you to successfully navigate life's challenges.
  • 'It's all right, it's all right, it's all right.' Paul Simon
'Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken and certainly misused
Ah, but I'm all right, I'm all right
I'm just weary to my bones'
Paul Simon, An American Tune

What do you know? Share your thoughts on how we can help one another during the age's most uncertain hour.

If you would like to see the complete lyrics to An American Tune or to purchase the music of Paul Simon, visit the Paul Simon site.
Lyrics to An American Tune by Paul Simon

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 For more than 35 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule life change coaching, weekend retreats, or engaging Lightarted experiences.


Marilyn said...

Sending you loving thoughts in return for your heartfelt prose.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

So beautiful, Sue! Just the other day a friend emailed me expressing her appreciation for our "help" through difficult circumstances. I responded "Appreciate what? Aren't we all just struggling through various things at various times together?" I am at as much a loss as the two of you were on your road trip. So true, no easy answers. Sometimes all we can do is provide a little comfort food (wouldn't you know it) and a hug!

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...


It is those loving thoughts we send to one another through the miles that keeps us 'all right'. thanks for sharing the Simon and Garfinkle youtube on Facebook. Perfect.

Love back at you.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...


I think it is worth the stuggle for all of us to continue thinking about how we help one another through these times. It IS during tough times that relationships are formed and strengthen as we reach out to help friends, family and strangers.

I, of course,love that what you can provide is comfort food! It's the little daily comforts and pleasures that get us through!

Cynthia Kendall said...

I love what you posted! It touched my soul for I have had many struggles that I with others, including my Higher Power(God) as I see Him. I know I have difficulties to face, but face them directly at the time and do not procrastinate. Now is the time to share with others. Thanks for all your loving help.


Jean | said...

Sue, this is a good post to bring out now! So many of us (all of us?) are struggling with various things. Last week a sweet friend was saying she appreciated my support during a difficult time, and I said "You've done the same for me. Sometimes we motherless women just need to mother each other."