I Am the Highway

I wanted to join the ranks of sad music fans who woke up shocked to hear of Chris Cornell’s suicide.  I was one of the 90’s grunge kids in flannel headbanging to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden for sure.  Fell On Black Days was probably my favorite song.  I remember in my 20’s, blasting Cochise on my way the gym to get amped up.  Chris Cornell is one of those vocalists that have followed me through my life.  Personally, it’s not Christmas if I don’t hear his rendition of Ave Maria.  His voice is unmistakable, powerful, and nothing short of incredible.

I remember hearing he had battled with addiction and depression, like so many greats. All day, I’ve been wondering why it is that some of the most talented people, most incredible artists, all battle demons.  In some ways, I’ve always found it comforting and inspiring that I’m not alone.  In others, it’s always kind of pissed me off that it seems like if you want to be talented, you gotta suffer.  I’ve already proactively started getting irritated of the “talk if you need help” banter that I know will surface.

I remember when Robin Williams died it suddenly became suicide and depression awareness week.  I became an internet warrior arguing with people who were so daft as to call him selfish for his suicide.  I’m hopeful it won’t happen with Chris Cornell, but who knows anymore.  When Scott Weiland died, I saw a lot of “oh fuck him, way to destroy your life with drugs.” It’s amazing the pedestals people place themselves on thanks to the anonymity of the interwebs.  It’s as if people forget that in addition to being a celebrity, they’re a human – someone’s son, husband, father, etc.  While you may have purchased their music/art, you are not entitled to any part of their life.

It has always blown me away how people can read headlines or wikipedia articles and assume they are some sort of expert on another human being.  Here’s what I know about Chris Cornell: he made incredible, incredible fucking music.  I know that the world is a different place without him in it, because his music deeply affected people.  My kids love Born to Rise and Spoonman.  His music is a gift to all of us, a gift that I am privileged to share with my little ones.  It’s amazing.

Lock was really upset to hear Chris Cornell died.  To write that sentence, though, I have to say, in every sense of the word, Chris Cornell is immortal.  I grew up as a fan of his bands, and I’ve passed it down to my kids, who will likely one day pass it down to theirs. Music, like love, like energy, doesn’t die.  Although I am deeply saddened by his death, but I’m focusing on my gratitude for every song that has touched me.   His music healed me, inspired me, made me jump around like the little banger I was/am, and comforted me enough to realize I am not alone.

I have a playlist that I made on Spotify that is titled “Daina”.  It’s songs to remind me of who I am.  When I started my journey, I realized that I lose myself in people, problems, and frankly my brain.  If I am triggered, or lost in depression, I lose both what I was working on/helping myself with, but also my memory.  I described myself to my therapist as working on big sand castles next to the waves, and every time one hits, I lose it all.  I started this playlist of songs to trigger me back to myself.  The first song I ever added to that list was “I Am the Highway” by Audioslave.  It is literally the cornerstone of me building myself up.  It makes me remember that I am not anyone’s anything, I am greater than the sum of everyone’s opinions and my own fears.  It is the song I use to remind myself to stop letting people use me and hurt me.

I listened to Sunshower and cried this morning, and I thought about how many songs have helped me to become the person I am.  I thought about how many of Chris Cornell’s songs have been a soundtrack in different parts of my life.  I looked to the beautiful blue sky, full of puffy clouds, and I thanked him.  I am sad that his demons won, I am scared that one day my demons will win, but I will not dwell on that.  He gave me a great gift, without knowing who I am.  To me, he and all musicians who have died before, are saints.  Anyone who can’t take their pain and suffering, and paint it into a work of art that heals others is a saint.  As a person who has used his music to pull myself out of suicidal depression, I cannot be thankful enough.

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life
Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile
Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time
Now I’m doing time
‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

Whomsoever I’ve cured, I’ve sickened now
And whomsoever I’ve cradled, I’ve put you down
I’m a search light soul they say
But I can’t see it in the night

I’m only faking when I get it right
When I get it right

‘Cause I fell on black days
I fell on black days

How would I know
That this could be my fate?
How would I know
That this could be my fate? Yeah

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