I’ll run away with your footsteps
I’ll build a city that dreams for two
And if you lose yourself
I will find you.
-“Find You” by Zedd ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant, c. 2012
I’ve been involved in music since the tender age of 8 years, so I generally am somewhat particular when it comes to hailing any piece of music as a true masterpiece. Some people ask me what I am more drawn to: the lyrics of a piece, or the melody. It always just depends. There is never really much rhyme or reason to the choice I make; it’s just that some lyrics move me, and some melodies move me, and sometimes, both do. The lyrics above are from the pop song “Find You” by Zedd ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant. It’s your typical, run-of-the-mill dance/pop/electronic anthem, but for me, it’s become a sacred emblem of hope.
In the summer of 2014, I was watching America’s Got Talent with my parents, a family favorite of ours. The show often features “today’s greatest hits” when introducing performers or when presenting the montage of the history of a performer. Most people probably don’t even notice the music playing in the background, since that isn’t the focus of the show–the performers are, of course. I am no exception. However, one evening in the early summer of 2014, one of the songs playing in the background after a performer was told he/she would move forward in the competition captured my attention. I had heard it maybe once before, but I had no idea what the song was. I didn’t even know if it was being sung by a male or female voice, nor could I fully comprehend any of the lyrics. But something drew me to it, and I resolved to find it and add it to my iTunes library, like any millennial would do.
The summer of 2014 was a very difficult period of my life. I was reeling from the dissolution of a relationship that I profoundly believed was it for me. I had believed I had found The One, and circumstance–or destiny, perhaps–had led to our breakup. I felt angry, depressed, confused, lost, guilty, sad. Mostly just sad. I had loved him more than I knew anybody could love another person, and he was gone. I spent nearly every second of my day playing through memories, asking myself what if, contemplating every single thing I could have done differently to make him stay, to be more lovable, to be more wantable. On top of that, I was living with my parents, who have always had a tumultuous and–frankly–unhealthy relationship. One of them has also been an alcoholic my entire life. There aren’t enough blog entries available to explain the ways in which both of these issues have infiltrated into nearly every other aspect of my life. Finally, I was working a job I loathed; all I did, for nine hours a day, was sit by myself in a lonely, gray cubicle in an office where nobody talked to me and while I completed somewhat meaningless, menial work.
I’m from a town of approximately 6,000 people in rural Wisconsin, where there is never much to do. It can be a lonely place no matter how many friends you have or how many things are going your way. But in the summer of 2014, I had never felt lonelier. I worked a job I hated; I didn’t feel like I had parents that could take care of me (how could they if they couldn’t even take care of themselves?); any friends I had had in high school were gone, moving on with their lives, living in new places; I had no boyfriend, and my ex made no contact with me after we broke up; I had no friends from school I felt comfortable enough to reach out to to talk to me, to offer any companionship; and I was forced to inhabit a house and a town where I had both fallen in love and been subjected to the torture that is being the child of an addict and a broken marriage. Sometimes, I felt like the memories, alone, might just kill me.
My world was closing in on me. I spent many nights driving to an old church at the top of a hill out in the country, where I would park my car, look out over the rolling hills and cornfields, feel the warm summer air wash over my skin, and cry. I cried, and I cried, and I cried, and I implored any god that ever existed to make something–anything–happen to take away all of the memories, all of the loneliness, all of the pain. At a certain point, I didn’t even care what happened to me. I felt worthless, like my life meant absolutely nothing to anybody or to the world, like I had earned everything that had happened to me. I felt like I was nothing. While the sunshine poured out from the heavens over the world in the summer of 2014, I was in my own little corner of hell, curled up in a ball while the darkness consumed me, feeling like nobody would notice if it swallowed me up into its lifeless depths forever.
One night, near the end of the summer, I was sitting in my bedroom with an old childhood friend and we were exchanging music with each other via a jump drive. While discussing music with her, I happened to mention the song I had heard on America’s Got Talent just a couple months prior. I had been looking for it periodically throughout the summer, searching the America’s Got Talent website to see if it listed the featured music, re-watching parts of the episode it had aired in on YouTube to try to hear any discernible lyrics that I could then Google, everything I could think of–but, alas, I couldn’t find it. On this night, after my friend gave me a jump drive with new music, I tried one last time to find the song, but I simply couldn’t find it. I gave up. It was only a song, and maybe I needed to practice letting go, anyway.
Fast-forward to November of 2014. My breaking point.
I had been seeing a psychologist at school for about a year, and during one particularly painful session in mid-November, my psychologist interrupted me in the middle of an emotional breakdown and told me that she believed I was severely depressed. I stopped and stared at her, stunned. She may as well have just slapped me across the face. It was the label that got me, I think. Naming it filled me with fear–naming this thing that had been building up inside of me, that maybe I’d been trying to hide, that had finally revealed enough of itself for another to identify it. The depression had been pouring out of me all along, emptying me, but somehow, the label felt like the end. And I was scared.
The week that followed was rough, but my therapist and I had developed a plan of attack. I was determined to beat depression, to do what I needed to do to return to a place where I believed life–my life–was worth living again, and I had begun to take small steps toward that goal. But it was rough. One especially challenging night, while sitting at my desk and working on my laptop, I decided to take a break from work, plug in my headphones, and listen to music. This wasn’t very characteristic of me. I would very, very seldom sit and listen to music as opposed to watching Netflix or working, but I thought it might be therapeutic. I turned my iTunes library to shuffle mode, closed my eyes, and mindlessly flipped through songs until I found one I wanted to listen to.
After a few songs, a new one began to play, and the melody streaming through my earbuds sounded new, but strangely familiar.
In just a few seconds, I knew what it was.
This was it! This was the song I had been looking for a few months earlier!
The song had been on my laptop, right in front of me, the entire time–in fact, the night in my bedroom, my friend had handed the song to me on the jump drive right after I had decided to stop looking for it. And do you want to know what the strangest part of this was?
The song is called Find You.
I’m not a particularly religious person, but I believe in something. I believe in the plan, I believe in the stars and the universe. I don’t believe that there are coincidences, but that things happen for a reason, exactly when they are supposed to and not a minute sooner. For me, this belief is confirmed by the little things that happen in life–things so seemingly inconsequential that we might not even notice them if we aren’t paying attention. But this song, the circumstances surrounding its meaning and its reappearance in my life when I needed, more than anything, something to hold onto as I worked my way out of depression, was and remains the reminder I needed that just because I can’t always see how things will come together, the plan is always in motion. Sometimes, absolutely nothing goes as planned, and what may appear to be chaos is really the meticulous laying of the path to some of the most profound, meaningful, beautiful experiences of our lives.
The faith and hope that this song gave me have since been reaffirmed in a variety of ways that future blog entries will highlight. But for now, world, I feel compelled to share this story with you in case you, too, feel the way I did in the summer of 2014. I encourage you to keep your eyes open to the little things, the little miracles that you encounter every day, to pay attention to the small ways in which hope finds us. Remember that nothing is random, that you are exactly where you need to be, that things will fall into place exactly when and how they are supposed to.
I find great comfort in knowing that I had to do nothing in order for this to happen–that in letting go of control, that in ceasing my search for all of the answers, that just as the song promised, the answers found me.