This song is one of my all-time favorites, written and sung by Jimmy Cliff. Now, for those of you who know me well, you know that reggae is my jam. I can listen to it any day of the week and twice on Sunday. This song is from the soundtrack The Harder They Come, which is also an obscure movie from the 70s starring….you guessed it, Jimmy Cliff. Check this album out, it is outstanding. This particular song, Many Rivers to Cross has emotion and is filled with sadness and regret. His character is one of solitude who winds up alone and resorting to petty crimes to make ends meet. Jimmy’s voice is complimented tremendously by background singers who build the song to a great crescendo at the last chorus. These particular lyrics stand out to me:
Many rivers to cross
But I can’t seem to find my way over
Wandering I am lost
As I travel along the white cliffs of Dover
Many rivers to cross
And it’s only my will that keeps me alive
I’ve been licked, washed up for years
And I merely survive because of my pride
Now I know this sounds a little depressing and sad, as he is a low point and struggling to carry on. And this is true for myself as well. Early on in my young adult and adult life, I felt like I was wandering alone. Now I know what you’ll say: Chad, are you muthufuckin’ crazy? You had a tremendous family and a lot of friends who had your back! And while that was certainly true, and I am grateful for all the people in my life, I was still alone. Because no matter how well someone knew me, they didn’t know the illness. They can’t understand the day-to-day pain and struggle that this illness can cause. They weren’t able to realize the emotional uncertainty that comes with not knowing when the axe will fall, or if/when the illness would take hold. When the final moments would arrive.
I was always good at putting on a front and hiding the ugliness of daily life with CF. But there were many times when I would lay there struggling to breathe and wishing it would all be over. Or that I might have just a few days when I didn’t have this struggle or constant pain that followed me everywhere? Or not knowing when the progression would be too great to overcome, or an exacerbation would be too severe to fight off? There were many times I just wanted to give up and let CF have its way with me. But something kept me going; whether it was stubbornness, pride, the will to survive, or the guilt of letting my family (mostly my mother) down. I just can’t be sure. But there were dark times. And those demons still lurk their ugly head around sometimes.
OK, I know that’s pretty dark. And my family may not want to hear this stuff. Well, I need to get this stuff out. So if you can’t handle the raw and the bleak that comes with this then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog! This needs to be a place where I express my emotions without judgement, both happy and sad, positive and negative. So DEAL WITH IT!
So when I hear this song, and I recommend you listen to it, I am mixed with emotions. I feel the wave of sadness that this song represents to me. Sometimes I well up, and I have to let it out rather than choke it down. Because I am in a different place now. I found myself, made my way through P.A. school, and have a great career. I met the most wonderful woman, and had an instant family with our son, Jackson. My life is full, and the future is bright.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments. If this illness teaches us anything is that nothing stays the same. You have to keep evolving and adjusting, and sometimes the badness may overcome. And that’s ok, to feel anger and sadness and just need to RAGE!! And afterward, you feel better and relieved. But just holding it inside is no good. It’ll keep building up to a volcano that explodes! And you might wind up doing or saying something you regret or can’t take back. So channel your frustration or anger or sadness into something creative. Paint, play an instrument…..or write a blog! But do something to deal with the hurt and sadness. Otherwise it’ll eat you up and spit you out.
Oh, and listen to reggae. If nothing else, it will usually brighten your spirits. 🙂