Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Colors”

“Colors”

Sometime in my middle teens it dawned on my that my life seemed to go in peaks and valleys. Sometimes I felt great, other times I felt rotten. (I’m not talking about bipolar disorder, mind you, more the normal ups and downs that all flesh is heir to.) This realization wasn’t so much a bolt out of the blue, but a gradual recognition, like noticing you’ve been speaking prose all your life.

I didn’t care much for this. Why couldn’t I have only peaks? Why couldn’t I fill up those valleys? Surely there was a solution out there.

I spent many years looking, in one way or another. My favorite strategy tasked me with hunting down The Ideal System. The Ideal Diet. The Ideal Belief System. The Ideal Career. And so on.

Common wisdom will tell you that such a quest is a fool’s errand. Accept the peaks and the valleys, don’t worry so much about them, and do your best.

Well, maybe — but is there a System that articulates this thought?

Several, actually. The one that’s working for me is a form of talk therapy (or in my case, “book therapy”) called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or “ACT” for short. ACT grew out of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tradition. As its name suggests, ACT invites you to accept the challenges you face and then choose which values you want to act on. It then gives you a toolbox of skills to help you do that.

Today’s song “Colors” expresses some of what I’ve learned from ACT. Specifically, that when we try to erase the bad parts of life, we can end up erasing the good parts too, or at least the ability to feel the good parts. (If you’re interested in learning more, check out the book A Liberated Mind by Steven Hayes, one of the founders of ACT).

Still, the valleys suck. I’m in one right now: day two of recovering from my second shot of the Moderna COVID vaccine. I’m grateful to have the vaccine, and I’ll be excited once the two weeks are up and I can go running through the streets kissing strangers — kidding! — but yesterday was pretty awful. I didn’t feel much like accepting any of my feelings then or today.

Anyway, better days ahead.

Kind of the definition of bitter-sweet, isn’t it?

Lyrics

Some days the gods smile on me
pouring sunshine on the land.
The world's my private oyster
spilling pearls into my hand.

But other days are darker
my mouth is full of soot.
My words are slurred and mumbled
I drop anvils on each foot.

But I'll take 'em both, the bright and dark, before I take the gray.

So give me red, give me green, and the biggest grin you've ever seen.
Give me all the colors I know how to feel.
Give me blue, give me brown, lift me up and slam me down --
Let me get a grip on everything that's real.
Cause I don't want to face
the endless smear of gray
So give me all the colors every single day.

Now the gray can seem so promising
when it promises no pain.
Smooth the hills into the valleys
so you trod an even plain.

But in that land of twilight
I find it hard to tell
What's water and what's poison
'cause heaven tastes like hell.

That's why I'll take the bright and dark, before I take the gray.

So give me red, give me green, and the biggest grin you've ever seen.
Give me all the colors I know how to feel.
Give me blue, give me brown, lift me up and slam me down --
Let me get a grip on everything that's real.
Cause I don't want to face
the endless smear of gray
So give me all the colors every single day.

Now I don't seek the downpour
I'd just as soon stay dry.
But it's hard to feel the sunshine
when I avoid the sky.

So if I want to see the heavens
and I am tangled in a wood
I've gotta get good at feeling
'stead of trying to just feel good.

That's how I'll see the bright and dark, instead of only gray.

So give me red, give me green, and the biggest grin you've ever seen.
Give me all the colors I know how to feel.
Give me blue, give me brown, lift me up and slam me down --
Let me get a grip on everything that's real.
Cause I don't want to face
the endless smear of gray
So give me all the colors every single day.

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