Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dark Come Soon

Dark Come Soon - Tegan & Sara (mp3)

Sometimes a song has a radar lock on your soul. It attaches its ivy tendrils to specific memories and experiences. Sometimes it digs into the soil of your past and grafts into the roots of childhood or teenage years, long before the song even existed, or long before you ever paid it much heed. It hits like those famed photon torpedoes into that tiny hole in the Death Star.

Lately, the song that has crept back up into my Billboard Hot Soul Top 10 is Tegan and Sara's "Dark Come Soon." It showed up on my Shuffle recently and has since been replayed a few dozen times.

Want a virtually guaranteed method of making yourself miserable? Do the right thing. Seriously, I can't think of many things, over the course of my life, that have resulted in greater misery, sadness or discomfort than walking the straight and narrow path in the face of temptation.

I'm not saying I've always managed to do the right thing. Not at all. I'm only saying that if you're under some impression that doing the right thing results in some happy ending movie where you get the girl, ride off on the white horse, cure the bully, avenge your parents, live happily ever after, or whatever, well, I'm here to burst your bubble.

While I can't proclaim to confidently know what their intent for this song was, its meaning for me has crystallized into every big gaping mineshaft of temptation I've encountered in my life, times when I was in personal torment and denied it or hid it from everyone around me. (Which is pretty much all of the times I've ever been tempted by anything.)

Dark, you can't come soon enough for me
Saved from one more day of misery
Everything I love, get back from me now
Everyone I love, I need you now

In times of temptation, days are marked by frustration, followed by a this strange sense of accomplishment when the day is done. One more day you've survived your own demons. One more square on the calendar you can X out, victorious over whatever the temptation or distraction. But good behavior in the face of temptation does this weird thing to your relationships. It's like the Joker has strapped a huge explosive device to you, and you desperately need someone to care enough for you to risk their lives and come defuse it. But you don't want to be the cause of the death of a loved one, or anyone for that matter, who tries in vain to defuse you only to be blown to tiny bits.

Don't forget a million miles from me
Safe, and another day can pass by me
Everything I love, get back from me now
Everyone I love, I need you now
So what? I lied, I lie to me, too (come on, come on)
So what? I lied, I lie to me, too (come on, come on)
So what?

Safe. And another day can pass by me. Get away from me before I explode. But... I really really need you near me.

And then the chorus comes in and kicks me in the gut, expressing the exact kind of process that worms its way through my mind. When confronted with the chance to do something wrong, or something taboo, our first instinct is to run away from it. But if we that temptation finds some way to grow like a weed through asphalt, we begin to create a new reality. We start telling ourselves whatever it is we need to hear to either stay away from the temptation or to justify succumbing. Sometimes we lie both ways. I can remember times when I told myself lies to keep me safe while at the same time telling myself lies to justify the act... just in case I eventually lost grip of my defenses and slipped. Sometimes, the angel and the devil on opposite shoulders are both just whispering different lies.

Hold out for the ones you know will love you
Hide out from the ones you know will love you, too

Doing the right thing almost always feels lonelier than succumbing. especially in the short run. Fight the temptations for those you love. Hide from them just in case you can't sustain, and hide for the shame of suffering the temptations to begin with.

Right to the edge, I'm barely there
Slow to make my move, I'm almost there
Everything I say, I say to me first
Everything I do, I do to me first
(So what?)
So what? I lied, I lie to me, too
(So what?)
So what? I lied, I lie to me, too

Everything I do, I do to me first. Every single time that couplet plays, it shakes me emotionally. I get all verklempt. Self-deception is, ultimately, the most sincere defense we have for our wrongdoings. Sure, it's ultimately an insufficient excuse -- that we're causing ourselves damage before we ever cause it to those around us, that we're lying to ourselves first before it spreads to our loved ones -- but it's all we've got. And when all you've got is a miserable defense that requires deceiving even yourself, the only thing you can do is keep hoping your days will end sooner rather than later.

It's Scylla and Carybdis. It's a rock and a hard place. It's a frying pan and a fire. It's turning right and turning wrong. Miserable places one and all. As WOPR/Joshua so wisely observed to Matthew Broderick, when it comes to temptation, "The only winning move is not to play." Easier said than done when your soul is at Defcon 2.

I'm glad I'm not there very often, and I haven't been there in a while -- and I'm honestly floored at how many times I was there in my teenage and younger years and didn't even really know it -- but I'm also grateful for songs like this that can take me to those memories, remind me of the pain that's there, and serve as occasional warning to do what I can to avoid going there again.


cinderkeys said...


I like this. I don't know if the message would have jumped out at me if I hadn't read your post first.

troutking said...

Any blog post so cleverly references WarGames is a good post in my book.

Thom Anon said...

Bully, I cure thee.

I like that.