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Redemption Song

After the week I’ve had, this column from July 2006 rings all too-familiar. If you have my book, Sideways in Sarasota, you’ve read it, but hopefully it will be fresh goods for the rest of you. Read it while you’ve got some Bob Marley in the background.

Nobody likes to go down for the count. None of us want to be so beaten we can’t get back up.

But one of the uncomfortable truths about life is that if you’re not seriously messing up at least every now and again, you’re probably not living your life as fully as you could.

If you’re not getting a little battered and bruised along the way, you’re probably not taking enough chances.

And taking chances, as safely as possible, but sometimes with an abandon that seems unwise, is what makes a life.

Making mistakes and learning from those experiences constitutes arguably the most powerful and effective tool we possess as humans for self-education.

But we’re so afraid to make mistakes. There’s so much fear to overcome. Whether it’s choosing which job to take or whether to tell a lie instead of the truth. Fear is the ugly gremlin that lives inside, gleefully stopping us from taking good and necessary risks. Getting giddy with success when he sees us act out of fear, especially if we take that fear out on others.

If only we were perfect. If only we never used a poor choice of words or made a bad call. If only we acted impeccably 100% of the time. But we don’t. We make mistakes, some big, some small, that affect ourselves and others.

Mistakes can make or break a day or a week, but usually I can ride them out, especially if I know there’s an icy martini coming on Friday.

But when the mistakes are piling up, the curve balls coming in fast and furious, or when someone has really hurt me and my mojo is face-down in the mud, then I know no cocktail’s going to do the trick.

Then it’s time to call in the big guns of redemption. Wildly different, wildly heroic –Rasta-Bob and Rocky.

The first step is to cue up Bob Marley. His lyrics are enough to help me shake off any possible self-pity. And though his political verses weren’t written to solve my tiny-by-comparison problems, his music reminds me that I can and will survive whatever’s going on. Songs like “Get Up Stand Up,” “No Woman, No Cry.”

Most of all “Redemption Song.”

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” Those words can get me through any night. Even many nights in a row if necessary.

And where Rasta-Bob’s words uplift me emotionally, it’s to Rocky Balboa that I turn for hard-core attitude adjustment.

With Rocky in my mind’s eye, I lace up, work the kinks out of my neck, do some practice bobs and weaves. Then I slide between the ropes and get back in the ring.

I go up against whatever it was that knocked me on my ass in the first place.

And it’s always the same opponent I find there in the center of the ring, waiting to take me out – it’s the menace from within, the nemesis of living – fear.

We all know what fear does to us. It makes us weak. It makes us give up. It makes us run from love when it’s what we want the most. It makes us sit down when we should stand up.

I’ll say this about fear: It’s a cunning foe. Ignoring it makes it grow. Denying it only makes it hungrier.

I’ll say this about me: Fear isn’t going to knock me out. I don’t need to win, but like my man, Rocky – I’m damn sure going the distance.

I’ll get up at dawn. I’ll drink raw eggs. I’ll run through the streets and push past the pain.

I’m going to fight the good fight against fear. I’ll stay in the ring with it until I’m bloodied and broken. I’ll take my lumps, especially the ones I bring on myself. But I’ll never stay down for the count.

For that, they better bring a body bag.

Posted on November 14th, 2008Comments RSS Feed
15 Responses to Redemption Song
  1. Yo MC,
    Fear is overrated in my opinion as a Psychologist..The results of said fear or coping with it…are used as an excuse to try and fkup when one should just live life and not worry what anyone thinks about the choices one makes in the decisions that happen to occur everyday.One should not analyze every decision made……rather just seize the day and enjoy.If you make a mistake so what..If you can’t cope then smoke some ganga like Marley says in his lyrics so you don’t have to face the reality that you really should face.

  2. “The meek shall inherit the Earth”.

    If that’s ok with you…

  3. Ok with me John or are you asking your fiance that question?:-)

  4. Hey Mary, good morning/afternoon.
    Ok, first, let me respond by saying (as you know),the “Redemption” piece was the first column of yours I’ve read and what instantly turned me into one of your many admirers. An excellent written piece and well fitted for what you perhaps were going through at the time.
    Please if you would, let me respond to Steve’s comment he posted. You must remember, when Bob Marley wroe the “Redemption” song, the fears that existed fduring the era were just a little different from the fears we are currently facing.When Steve wrote that “fear is overrated”, I would like to place this scenario to him: You have a mortgage and two children, you are underwater in your mortgage and have just found out your company just went out of business. You have no family and the only form of savings was in stocks that you just lost 100% of due to current market conditions. You have no family and your wife’s job as a telecomunications agent was just outsourced to India. You have no money..period. Ok, what are you to do? The numbers for the Food Stamp offices in Sarasota and Bradenton are phantom numbers meaning, they go nowhere. You are about to lose your home in forclosure.
    Steve, are you telling me that this kind of fear is “overrated” ?
    The fear in the 60’s and 70’s is a much different “fear” we are facing today. Ok, I know what your thinking; that fear is fear. But I personaly feel, this fear we are facing today is a much colder and more “in your face” kind of fear.
    Regarding the use of ganja to face fear; I would much prefer smoking a joint rather than going to O’Mally’s on Main St. for their drink-till-you-drop for 10.00, get behind the wheel of a car anyday. Or to be behind a driver attempting to send text messages while driving. But then again, this would be an entirely different topic.
    Mary, how about doing a piece on the statistics that prove that being behind the wheel while talking on a cell is 10 times as dangerous as being double over the legal alcohol limit.The statistics have been in the paper, (about an inch on the very back page of every major paper – thanks to the cell phone lobyists that have reported record profit increases of 400% a year since the late 90’s).
    Thank you everyone for your time.
    Dan Zumbro

  5. Mary,as you well know,the “Redemption Song” was the first column of yours that Iv’e read and instantly made me one of your “many” fans and admirers. There hasn’t been a word printed of yours since, that I have not read.
    Ok, enough as you already know what a “star” you truly are to Journalism.
    My reason for replying to your blog on this piece is largely due to the comment from Steve about “fear.
    It’s when Steve went on to write: “fear is overrated in my opinion” that really stuck out there.
    In 1979 when Bob Marley wrote the lyrics to “Redemption Song”, Viet Nam ended six years prior. But the word “fear” was so different in the 70’s than it is today, as “fear” contains so many variables.
    I would like to ask Steve how one can say fear is overrated with today’s economic conditions? I would like to put this very real scenario to Steve: “You are married, have two children and have a mortgage that is underwater. You have just found out, your wife’s job has been outsourced to India, the business you have worked for the last 25 years has just filed chapter 11 and any form of savings you once had, was tied up in stocks that are no longer there and you are three months behind in your mortgage. You have no family to rely on for help as they have deceased over two years ago and your friends are in the same financial status as you”. Ok Steve, what do you do?
    Do you tell this man that fear is just overrated?
    Also Steve and this is very real; try contacting WIC, or food stamp aid. Call the numbers listed in the phone book (they are phantom numbers) that go nowhere and you will “never” get a live person.
    Steve, the word “fear” is a little “matter of fact and in your face” as the types of fear we lived with in the 70’s – for those of us who remember them.
    Also Steve, while you went on to say; “that to smoke some ganja is not a good means of escaping ones fears”. Steve, there are many reasons one smokes pot and to be perfectly honest, I would much rather be behind a vehicle of one who just smoked a joint than one who had just left O’Mally’s on Main St. where they have a “drink till you drop” for a mere 10.00 and gets behind the week, or better yet, be behind a driver who is attempting to send text messages while operating a vehicle.
    Mary, that would be an excellent column for you to put the key-strokes to. While there are many statistics out there that have proven that it’s 10 times as dangerous to drive while on a cell, than to have three times the legal alcohol limit in your system. The reports were listed in a three inch piece in every major newspaper and you can than the cell phone lobyists who have just reported a 400% record earnings every year since the late 90’s.
    Sorry for getting off track a little.
    Mary, you wrote a fantastic piece when you compaired the lyrics to Bob Marleys song to what was then going on with your life at that time. C annot thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and feelings with your readers.
    You will always be the diamond in the rough to this reader.
    Respectfully, Dan

  6. Hi Dan,
    I completely understand what you are saying and realy didn’t mean to smoke dope to escape one’s fears but rather was just saying what Marley has preached in his lyrics many moons ago.Escaping reality but any substance means is never the way to go and the end result still is the reality you are in.
    As far as reality and what I said ,I am compassionate to your plight trust me,but I was meaning that fear cannot dictate one’s life that you have to have a plan to combat any fears that you may have and hit it head on instead of it hitting you in the ass.
    In e mails or blogs like this we know that philosophies or ideology get lost in translation so hopefully this will clear things up.Each situation is unique too Dan and I was merely stating an opinion and really not focusing on economic times.I had to retire due to back surgery with no job 8 years ago and also my higher than what my house condo is assessed so trust me I know where you are coming from …I do not live in fear but plan what what the future will hold for me.If I didn’t do that 8 years ago I would be in big doo doo.

  7. Steve, first, I would like to apologize if it appeared that I “singled” out a couple comments you made in your response to M.C.’s Redemption Song piece. It certainly was not my attention to do so.
    I will also not try to make any comments or respond to any while at work. The reason my response to your post may have seemed a little “out of line” was because I had just found out a few employees I know, are going through the exact situation I wrote about.
    But Steve, after I got home and read my post, I sincerely felt you deserved an apology.
    Respectfully, Dan

  8. No problem whatsoever Dan.If I can ever help you out in anyway please get my e mail from MC….I am real sorry you have to go through all of this in this most difficult of times.Take care,Steve

  9. Being held hostage in a blue state
    November 20, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Hey MC!!! What is this??? Another lovefest in land of MC REALITY …….are you freaking kidding me?

  10. Lovefest?!
    Hey, maybe this is what this country needs; a little “Peace, Love and good o’l Rock & Roll” like in Woodstock…
    Would someone please tell M.C. what Woodstock was as I’m sure she wasn’t born yet…..
    God….. are we getting old….. or at least I am…..

  11. “Hey, maybe this is what this country needs; a little “Peace, Love and good o’l Rock & Roll” like in Woodstock…”

    “With bombers flying shotgun in the sky, turning into butterflies, above our nation.”

    By the time of Woodstock and the Monterey Pop Festival the romance was gone. The movement towards peace and harmony had morphed from Love-ins to Rallies to Riots. A war raged unabated on the other side of the planet as mass consumerism and taxes began to weigh heavily on the young and the old alike. The Northern Colleges fostered radical thought and actions that nearly caused an anarchist movement of revolution. The SDS, Weather Underground, and the Black Panthers demanded “Change” and espoused the violent overthrow of all government. Spontaneous rioting broke out in the major cities as disenfranchised Blacks destroyed their homes and businesses in a cry for equal opportunity that fell mostly on deaf and fearful white ears.

    It was a time of darkness and justifiable fear as morality took a backseat to the possibility that there would be no tomorrow as the decades of a ponderous weight from the knowledge that at any moment the Godless Red Communist Russia could push the button that would release rocket payloads of nuclear weapons to rain down on us and send all of us to Hell, left us with a void in our minds and souls that would lead us to seek perverse outlets of pleasure and pain.

    We still are evolving into something unrecognizable to the old we. We are now the decision makers of the parameters of what is right and what is wrong. We are more sensitive to the inane and can be collectively insensitive to the abhorent. At this time, we are losing ground to the younger ones who will be idealists of what is to become the future status quo.

    We, as a species, as throughout History, are the continuing enablers of a change that remains the same….

    By the way, I had a kick-ass good time…

  12. Ps..Please disregard the You Tube prior to this message. I screwed up as usual with my damn typos….If you want to see the essence of a Woodstock video just google You Tube Country Joe and the Fish… I am fixin to die rag…Enjoy

  13. LOVE this post. Thanks so much for sharing! Very good writing. Having spent 23 years living in the Caribbean before coming back to America (my homeland) I fell in love with Marley too.

    You are a talented writer. Another fan of yours sent me your link. Glad they did!

  14. Thanks Miss Mermaid for visiting my site. Good luck with your book Hurricanes and Hangovers — love that title!



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