The Elephant in the Room

I had planned to write about something else this morning, but it’ll have to wait.

The song in the below video and lyrics is off of Hannah Georgas self-titled debut album. I discovered this song, originally from 2012, a year ago this month, and I instantly fell in love with the sound. Georgas, a Canadian singer-songwriter from Vancouver, provides a haunting vocal. The melody itself builds from a throbbing synthetic pulse to an all-out guitar crunch, and the rawness of the instrumentation during the final lyrical thrust has a desperate edge. The song is sung and played with passion and energy, despite the relatively low tempo.  Give it a listen:

You are off kilter with me
Don’t you know it’s every other day of the week?
Your win my feat
These days I’m running to escape
Drenching my brain, soak in my mistakes
My mistakes

Is there any love left for me?

That dark sky yeah it’s so big
Isn’t anybody wondering? Isn’t anybody
Questioning what this all is?

As I age it sinks deeper in
This life is temporary, it’s all gonna end
This is all gonna end

It’s just a little love that I need

There’s an elephant in this room
And I’m white as a ghost
As a ghost

Show me the road, the road

All these moments become memories
I don’t wanna wake up one day thinking what did I miss
I fear my own fate
I don’t wanna wake up one day thinking
Where the hell have I been

I always assumed that this was a love song, written to a human about an interpersonal relationship. I guess I was never listening that closely (or perhaps I was just hearing what I expected instead of what was actually present). Despite having heard the song perhaps two hundred times–it really is one of my favorites–I never realized until this very morning that if read in a certain context, the song may actually be about her relationship with God.

I’ll start my reading by going over a few of the lyrics and how they relate to my own personal relationship with Him.

• The opening line about being off-kilter could refer to that relationship being out of sync or unrealized. It’s a line said by someone that knows he or she is missing something. This was me, as recently as two months ago.

• Late in the first stanza, she mentions “soaking in my mistakes.”  To me, this might refer to the humility that comes with understanding my own sins–my own pride–and how it has hampered my relationships with God and with the people closest to me.

• Taking a look at the second stanza reveals that this unfulfilled life, this “dark sky,” has her seeking an answer to the great question–the only question that matters: What is all this, and what does it mean? This is a question we all come face-to-face with at some point in our lives, and it usually happens when the skies are darkened.

• The bridge about this life being temporary is a critical junction. It is both the admission that our time on this earth is fleeting, and the admission that there is something else out there beyond what we can see. The line doesn’t say that life is temporary, it says that this life is temporary, implying that there is something more.

• The “elephant in this room” could absolutely be referring to the revelation that God is with me, and being “white as a ghost” sounds like an alternative poetic interpretation of my realization that there is something so much bigger out there, and that I have been thinking and feeling the wrong things for my entire life.

• “Show me the road” is an admission of humility, and a request for the light of His love. We have all asked for this.

• The two lines that really stick out to me are “Is there any love left for me?” and “It’s just a little love that I need.” These lines capture the desperation of someone that feels alone; it begs for just a little love, just a little light in the darkness. These lines are astoundingly beautiful poetry that capture what it’s like to feel small and in need.

I think it’s clear to me now, viewing this song in the context of my own faith, that Georgas meant it as a spiritual song when she wrote it. But, the second part of the lesson that re-thinking this song has taught me is that it doesn’t actually matter whether the song was written with this intent. I don’t know if Hannah Georgas is a Christian, or a Buddhist, or an Atheist, or anything in between, and that fact is irrelevant. I don’t know with any certainty that the song was meant to be interpreted in this light. The entire point of the exercise is that the context is there to me, and that is all that counts in this case. The song feels spiritual to me, and that is the important part.

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