Part 1 of 2

A Bitter Sweet Moment of Surrender

You try to make ends meet, try to find somebody, then you die.

June 3, 2021

PREFACE: I started writing this chapter back in March. By the time I was finished, it was twice as long as it is now. I realized it had to be edited and condensed, for no one would read such a long article. Unfortunately, due to health reasons, I was not able to finish it until two months later. It will be one whole year today, June 3rd since I last published a chapter due to ongoing health issues. It's been a tumultuous year and a half for me, and I am currently also going through a challenging personal time right now (more on this in the upcoming Part 2.) These most recent jarring events in my life have me thinking more so now than ever about the question I pose in this chapter: "Does everything happen for a reason?"

Photo of The Verve courtesy of Bob Berg/Getty Images - Photo of U2 taken from Wikimedia Commons

This chapter features two songs, Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve, and Moment of Surrender by U2. Both songs support the message of this chapter, which is that life can be so unpredictable, hard, and complex that we find ourselves sometimes spinning out of control, unable to cope with what life has thrown our way. Life can chip away at you for years until you eventually fold and fall to your knees. Or perhaps it's one major life-changing event that has crushed you and forced you to humbly surrender and give up the fight you've been keeping up all your life - the fight with yourself.

At the moment of surrender
I folded to my knees
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me

- Bono

Is it God's master plan, or is it all random?

2020 was the year that changed everything for everyone. It was the year that pushed us all apart while simultaneously bringing us closer together than ever before. The year saw wildlife populations explode and prosper all across the globe thanks to human inactivity. It was the year that saw record lows in air and water pollution. So the question I have is, was this random, or did it happen for a reason? Some might argue that the Universe operates randomly and that these events, like global pandemics, are just part of nature. While others might say that the pandemic happened for a reason, perhaps the human race was due for a massive wake-up call? Where do you stand on this debate? In this chapter, I delve into this concept of "Everything happening for a reason" (or not)! I should note that I'm no expert on the subject, but I felt that I had something to share, so I did. I realize that long before I was around, many far greater minds than mine have pondered this question. And newer, more extraordinary minds will continue to debate this long after I'm gone.

We've all heard the expression, "Everything happens for a reason." It gets tossed around a lot as a way for us to accept what has happened, be it good or bad. We use it to convince ourselves that some horrible tragedy that occurred had an unforeseen, underlying positive upside that may only reveal itself in the days, weeks, months or even years to come. Some folks think that everything happens randomly, without any invisible forces such as God, guardian angels, karma, or serendipity intervening to shape our fate and destiny. And others think that all of our lives are being orchestrated and directed by the hand of God.

Meanwhile, undoubtedly, there are people on the outskirts of this debate who have altogether different beliefs. I used to subscribe to the "Everything happens for a reason" way of thinking. My life, which has not been an easy one, has forced me to look at this differently. I want to share this perspective with you.

When a person lives with chronic illness for years and years, they usually end up digging deep inside and doing a lot of soul-searching. And, perhaps sooner than others, we also really start to question life itself and our purpose here on earth. Some of us evolve enough to observe our actions at some point in our lives, and we become self-aware. People who are faced with incredible challenges (not Olympic challenges, but real-life difficulties that genuinely push you beyond your limits) usually end up evolving faster!

So, recently, I started questioning this belief that "Everything happens for a reason" and thought to myself, perhaps it does not have to be one or the other. That is to say that either everything happens for a reason or that nothing happens for a reason. But maybe there is a gray zone. What if only some things happen for a reason? Could that be? Why not!

Wheel of Fortune game show juxstaposed by starving African children. Child photo from Unicef.com

How can it be that one person lives in affluence and abundance while another person is starving to death? Why is there such polarity in the human experience?

Wheel of Fortune versus Unicef

Some people have extraordinary lives, filled with mostly good fortune, good health, good times, and longevity. While others are born into abject poverty, live in terribly unsanitary conditions or war-torn countries, be exposed to torture and violence, as well as disease and trauma, and end up living very short, painful lives. Their lives are horrible and tragic. We can see this ironic polarity just by watching television. For instance, you can watch contestants win thousands of dollars and luxury vacations on a game show and have that then cut to a commercial where you see starving African children with tears in their eyes and flies on their faces. How does one make sense of that? Talk about juxtaposition. How can it be that one person lives in affluence and abundance while another person is starving to death? Why is there such polarity in the human experience? The short answer is, I don't know, and nobody else knows either.

I've experienced a lot of pain and suffering in my life and have also lost many loved ones, some tragically to accidents and suicide. And, like everyone else, I have lived through events that I felt did, in the end, "happen for a reason." But I don't believe that everything that has happened to me, or you, happens for a reason. You may disagree, and that's okay. This is just my personal philosophical view, based on my own life experiences.

The Wild Kingdom TV show from the 70's and 80's courtesy rfdtv.com. Cheetah photo courtesy catersnews.com

Because we are physical beings living in this environment, on this planet, we are vulnerable to disease, viruses, bacteria, predators, random acts of violence, natural disasters, severe weather, etc. just like everything else in nature. We, and nature, are inherently transient.

Wild Kingdom

Like animals, we are part of the natural world and are exposed to the randomness of nature. Despite all of its beauty and majesty, the natural world is a cruel, unforgiving place. Just watch any show on wildlife, and it's clear that there is a very fine line separating life from death. Why does one gazelle evade the cheetah while another one falls victim to the chase and becomes food? No reason. It's just the luck of the draw. I believe the same thing happens to us. Why? Because we are physical beings living in this environment, on this planet, we are vulnerable to disease, viruses, bacteria, predators, random acts of violence, natural disasters, severe weather, etc. just like everything else in nature. We, and nature, are inherently transient. This explains why innocent, good people get sick, suffer, are involved in accidents, and die every day. The same thing happens to bad people. No one is immune. However, animals never stop to ask themselves, "Why is this happening to me?" because they are incapable of that kind of thinking. They live through their struggles without being able to question them. On the other hand, we humans usually find ourselves questioning all of it, which can, as is the case with me, lead to mental struggles.

However, I believe that some more evolved creatures are sentient, like cats and dogs, for example. If you've ever had a pet and really connected with that animal, looked deep into its eyes, you can see that there is a soul in there - there is a unique consciousness to that animal. Perhaps all living creatures have a soul, each with its own sentience levels and uniquely adapted souls. Could that be? Maybe. 

Our ability to love, a purely human trait, points to something bigger inside us all. Listening to a beautiful piece of music or watching a powerful film can transport you to a place that feels like a dream, a place where you feel set free from the constraints of your physical body and what feels like the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Groundhog Day - Photo on left courtesy The N.Y. Times - Photo on right courtesy of Variety Magazine

In my life, I've experienced both great joy and great sorrow. One of the purposes of this blog is to convey just how much music plays a role in keeping me alive and bringing me joy. Music is the one constant that has helped me get through each day for the past four years. My days are very much like Bill Murray's days in the movie Groundhog Day: they keep on repeating over and over. I go to bed at night only to wake up to the same nightmare the next day. I look forward to that time of day when I will plug my earbuds in and disappear into the music. It takes me to all sorts of places. Sometimes those places really hurt, and I breakdown. Other times, they lift me up and keep me going. Below, I'm quoting a passage from the song Bitter Sweet Symphony that resonates with me:

Well, I've never prayed but tonight I'm on my knees, yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singin' to me now

- The Verve

Some of us have to carry a heavier load, and that's just the way it is. It's a tough road when you are the one doing the carrying. I can say with absolute conviction that my life has been one long Bittersweet Symphony, and I'm only now learning to surrender, despite what Corey Hart says!

What about serendipity?

We've all experienced serendipitous moments at one time or another. It seems that part of our life experience here on earth is to have these incredible moments of precise timing that are so profoundly uncanny that we have to think that there is something else going on behind the scenes. And, in some instances, these moments do change the course of our lives. And then, there are the moments that happen without rhyme or reason that can equally alter the course of our lives - for better or for worse. I see life as a mixed bag of randomness and serendipity, and one where we must remember that "darkness always gathers around the light" - Bono. Darkness is just waiting around until the light goes out. Then it sneaks in, forcing you to look inside the darkness within, eventually revealing a vulnerability inside of you that you were unaware existed - and that is when the Moment of Surrender arrives.

- Patrick Franc

a.k.a.: Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bionic Man

​The Rolling Stones relinquish their songwriting credits to the hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony”

Rock icons Mick and Keith relinquish their songwriting credits to the ’90s hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony” to the former lead singer of the Verve after a contentious lawsuit in the late ’90s.

Did you know that the hit song’s major hook was a sample from a version of the Rolling Stones’ song “The Last Time”? While the Verve did get sample clearance, a contentious lawsuit from ABKCO Records’ owner/then-Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein claimed the band used a bigger portion of the song than what was cleared and successfully got the songwriting credits changed to add Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ names alongside Ashcroft.

When Ashcroft received an Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Contribution To British Music this evening, he announced that his managers made a personal and direct appeal to the Stones’ management company to give him credit. Jagger and Richards had no problems with the appeal, and according to a statement Ashcroft tweeted, “agreed to give me their share of the song,” thereby reverting songwriting royalties solely back to Ashcroft, However, Jagger and Richards still maintain publishing rights.

Source: Alternative Press

Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, that's life
Tryna make ends meet, you're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
But I'm a million different people
From one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
(Have you ever been down?)

Well, I've never prayed but tonight I'm on my knees, yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there's nobody singin' to me now

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people
From one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
(Have you ever been down?)
I can't change, oh, no
I can't change, oh

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, that's life
Tryna make ends meet, tryna find somebody then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

You know I can change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people
From one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no

I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no,
I can't change my mold, no, no, no, no
It's just sex and violence, melody and silence
It's just sex and violence, melody and silence
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
Been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Have you ever been down?
Have you ever been down?
Have you ever been down?

Moment of Surrender – U2

Comments


  • Kelly

    Wise words Cous. And excellent song choice <3

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