I am someone who gets fascinated by the subtleties of things, evoking me to lengthy, introspective reflections over them. When it comes to music, lyrics and meaning are one of those subtleties. I’ve had a couple of posts commenting on the songs I listen to, on repeat, at the given time. This time is a little unusual, though. “Enough to Let me Go” by Switchfoot is one of the many songs I used to listen to back in the day—my college days in particular.
Songs appeal to me because of the way they relate to me at a given time. I stumbled upon this Switchfoot song again through my shuffle and its catchy melody caught my attention. The song relating to me now isn’t strictly the case why I started listening to it again, although when I first started listening to it, it was the case. And the reason how it related to me the first time is what I want to talk about here.
The first stanza of the song really struck to me: “Oh, I’m a wandering soul. I’m still walking the line that leads me home. Alone, all I know, I still got a mountain to climb on my own”
Back in my college days, I was a young man trying to forge his identity. That forging began with a wave of self-questioning, dealing with questions over who I am, how I relate to others, and how to get to where I’m supposed to be. It wasn’t an easy process to tell you the truth. Going through intense self-questioning exposed my insecurities which, therefore, inhibited me from making new friends, expanding my social horizons. I wasn’t confident enough to be “out there”. One thing I knew for sure was that I was going to get better. How long the process of getting better was something I didn’t know. Looking back, it turned to be a handful of years. I saw myself as, certainly, a “wandering soul” trying to find his “home” where his best version of himself resides. Walking to that home was a lonely process. Even at that time there was a yearning to connect with others. To be frank, I wanted to get into the dating scene, be in a relationship, and all that stuff. However, I felt like I wasn’t supposed to because it wasn’t the right time. There was that tension going on between “putting myself out there” and “fixing myself”, primarily because I saw in me a soul in progress “climb” a mountain. I knew I had to climb it alone because I didn’t want to push away and hurt people along the way if I climbed with others.
In the second stanza, there were a couple of mentions of the word “dead”. I think the word “dead” in this stanza refers to a stage in one’s life that is not alive yet. Being dead represents innocence and youth. Being dead means being dead in one’s own senses until life reaches the stage of waking into reality, when all senses are functioning and, therefore, fully alive. The stage of being “dead” is just a recall of the time when everything is innocent, young, and beautiful, contrasting it to the stage of being alive when the distinction between the beautiful and the ugly gets blurred. One example of the blurred distinction between the beautiful and the ugly, as shown in the song, is letting go of what’s holding you back to grow—an ugly thing—even if it may be the most beautiful thing you can do to yourself.
In climbing your mountain, the most beautiful you can do is the ugliest thing, letting go, letting go of anything that prevents you from reaching the top of it which is your “home”
Another way the word “dead” is used in the stanza is in a biblical context. The refrain “but every seed dies before it grows” refers to a passage from the Gospel of John where Christ addresses the Greeks that unless a grain of wheat falls and dies it will not bear fruit (John 12:24). The seed is each of our lives, and unless that seed of our “dead”—youth and innocence—dies, we will not reach our “home” and grow into the best version of ourselves.
Growth and arriving home have been the recurring themes of my life for the past few years. Pain—in various forms—does come along with it inevitably and it did over the course of the years. Yet, one thing I learned is that in growing spiritually, emotionally, physically you don’t avoid pain, you embrace it. Just as the old adage goes “No pain. No gain.” In doing physical exercise, getting stronger and fit involves dealing with the pain of exhaustion and resistance. If we did we end up not doing anything at all. Similarly, arriving home at the top of our own mountains involves pain in various forms.
At this point, my perspective has changed. I’m definitely still in the process of climbing my own mountain, but I have looked on the other side of the fence to see that others are trying to do the same as well. When I eventually start loving a woman I want to love her such that I recognize her own mountain and see her “home” even when she still doesn’t.
This song is a gem. Definitely underrated.