Week #40: Holes in the Wall

As people shared their personal stories on social media last month, as part of National Suicide Prevention Month, it was a reminder that you never know what is going on in other people’s lives or in their minds. One acquaintance shared his story and it was shocking because my perception of him, with my limited exposure, included him having a very successful career, being well-respected in the community and having a loving family life. Every encounter with him had been pleasant and positive and I never would have imagined the demons he was facing in his mind.

He shared that during a difficult time a few years ago, he was contemplating suicide – even planning the details – when he ended up in a conversation with a friend who truly listened to him and after that conversation he felt better enough to change his mind and seek professional help.

That inspired me to share a song I wrote back in 2015 during a difficult time in my own life. For me, writing has always been a way to work my way through a challenging time and this is one of the first songs I wrote after a 10-year hiatus of writing songs. Fortunately I wasn’t facing the type of despair described above, but I was feeling down and I remember that by the time I finished the song, I felt uplifted.

The song is called “Holes in the Wall” and the idea behind it is that we never know what a person is going through. A beautiful painting hanging on the wall may be covering a hole in the wall behind it. When someone is going through a challenging time, people may want to help, but sometimes help can only be given when the person is open to receiving help.

There are holes in the wall hidden underneath the pictures
I can’t answer when you call, there’s a shortage in the fixture
The lawn is overgrown and the floor’s in need of sweeping
But I can’t get out of bed, I only feel like sleeping

The first verse lists other examples when things may not appear as they seem. It’s sunny outside, but it feels cold. It may not look like I’m trying to get somewhere, but there’s a reason why I’m not moving (a nail in the bike’s tire). The volume’s up all the way but you still can’t hear the TV because the mute button is on. You can’t always tell when someone is drowning because it looks differently in real life than it does in the movies.

The sun is shining brightly, but it’s icy cold outside
There’s a nail in the tire that prevents me from a ride
The volume’s all turned up, but the mute button is blinking
It appears that we are floating, but it feels like we are sinking

There are holes in the wall hidden underneath the pictures
I can’t read the tiny scrawl scribbled among all the splinters
The pantry is empty and the wall’s in need of painting
But I can’t get out of bed so I’ll just lie here waiting

One thing that turned my mood around was grasping on to hope that things would get better so I tried incorporating that hope into the song. The first two lines of this verse are my favorite lines in this song.

That may be light inside the tunnel, but it’s just too dark to see
Can’t tell if it’s salvation or a train headed toward me
It’s dark although it’s morning because the sun has yet to rise
So you don’t notice the new day when you open up your eyes

Then one last chorus and an attempt to end the song on a positive note. Or at the very least that I would try move forward.

There are holes in the wall hidden underneath the pictures
I can’t answer when you call, there’s a shortage in the fixture
The lawn is overgrown and the floor’s in need of sweeping
I’ll try getting out of bed, though I only feel like sleeping.

Here’s the song, recorded in 2015 (please also keep in mind that not only was it one of the first songs I had written in about a decade, I also hadn’t played guitar in that long either.) Whenever I listen to it, it reminds me how I felt at that time and I’m grateful that I’m in a better state of mind these days.

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