Monday, August 20, 2012

Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen

As I said goodbye to Allie, I tried to say something honest and real but instead all I could muster was awkward reassurances. Allie was moving away and like any big change in life, the feeling was bittersweet. There was the excitement of new opportunities mixed with letting go of the life that came before.

One of the things about going to a college that attracts people from all over the country is that you become friends with people who in the years after college move away.  My late twenties seemed to be marked with having to say goodbye to friends.

Saying goodbye always feels unfinished. There is never enough time to say what you want. You tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if you get it all out because you'll "be in touch," however that's not always the case.  As easy as a cell phone call or an e-mail can be, sometimes keeping in touch with those we care about fall to the corners of our lives.

While we said our goodbyes the silences between our words were filled with the joyous singing of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.” Like a guiding spirit, his presence helped me get through that moment and listening to this song afterwards revealed to me feelings I always had but couldn't articulate.



“Dancing In The Dark,” is Springsteen’s most successful single that led to the sales of Born In The U.S.A. This song, packed with 1980s synthesizers feels completely different than the passionate and operatic rock of Born To Run. While people seemed to revel in this song, the happy melody and harmony juxtaposed against the disturbingly dark lyrics like “I want to change my clothes, my hair, my face,” never really made sense to me.

Something changed when I listened to this song and thought about Allie. The lines about the challenges of life seemed to take a back seat to the lyrics about hope:
Message keeps getting clearer . . . 
There’s something happening somewhere. . .
I’ll shake this world off my shoulders, come on baby this laughs on me.
These lines reflect why I admire Allie and why I am proud to be her friend.  While Allie has been blessed with a wonderful life, she has had challenges. When life has knocked her down, Allie gets right back up, and with a smile keeps on.  Never a victim, Allie lives life with the wind on her back and the sun upon her face.

In darkness, like in life there is much to fear.  You can’t predict the future and it’s impossible to truly see what’s around you in the darkness. So you have a choice: you can sit in the darkness petrified by uncertainty or you can stand up and dance.

Allie chooses to dance.

None of this came out as I said goodbye because I didn’t really want to think about what it meant for Allie to move away. Now that I have, I think it’s okay that things were left unfinished. This friendship isn’t ending so why should a goodbye feel complete?

Allie, best of luck in your new place with your new job, I’ll see you in September when Bruce rocks Wrigley.

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