I stared at a blank sheet of lined paper, with my mind just as blank. The little white analog clock to my left had its hands pointing at a 10 and a 6, but I still had Physics homework and a Matlab program to finish up. The Physics textbook, with its pages opened to a section on Electromagnetic Theory, taunted me as I felt my energy slip away. However, despite the desperation I felt from inevitable deadlines cornering me, I could not ignore the pull within me to write the words that I have wanted to say, the words that I have longed to sing, and the words that I could not for the life of me summon from my mind at that moment.
I realized that I had many things I wanted to write about, yet I had nothing to write about.
I scrolled through the songs on my iPod and began making a checklist in my mind of potential topics I could write about for my song. Maybe I could write a song about something popular, but use my own experiences and my own original metaphors so that I could make it my own.
Let’s see…what can I write about?
Love? No. That has been written about too many times and the only love song I could write would be dedicated to a soul mate whose existence I wanted to believe in, but I doubted that I would ever find him in this day and age.
Depression? No. I had no desire to whine and complain about first-world problems and teenage angst.
Being myself? No. Despite the appeal of solitude and individualism, the message, “be yourself,” was beginning to climb the ranks of cliché’s. Besides, I had no clear definition of who “myself” was, other than the fact that I was a nerdy student living an isolated life because I spoke less than my peers and had far fewer friends, but that did not warrant a good enough reason to write about “being myself.”
The blank sheet of paper stared at me with its lined eyes, challenging me, daring me to toss it aside and give up on this flighty songwriting dream I had.
I sat in my dimly lit room for a full half an hour, allowing the deadlines, anxieties, fears, and inner conflicts to disappear along with the fading light. I searched myself for the simple truth that I have hidden too long that I wondered if it has turned to dust within the chambers of my soul.
I did not just want to write a song just for the sake of calling myself a songwriter and feeling better about myself. I did not want to write because of some generic reason like “I love music!”
It wasn’t even for the passion or the longing to express myself.
Why do I want to write a song?
The answer remained unclear, so I broke away from my trance of contemplation as I picked up a pen and began to write the first words that came to mind.
I just had to push the stumbling block out of my head.
If you want to write a song, write!
“Okay, here goes nothing,” I mumbled to myself.
There’s a whisper in your heart that echoes through the night.
“Let’s see…what rhymes with night? Light.”
In high school, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test, and I was an INTJ. However, the more I delved into Physics and hard core sciences, the more disillusioned I became with logic and cold, calculating minds. I found myself wandering off into the realm of my heart where I daydreamed about living a simpler life, seeking to find the truth of the Universe, and creating a beautiful and profound work of art that resonated within the heart. I was not an INTJ, and the titles like “The Mastermind” and “The Scientist” did not suit me at all.
I was an INFJ. There were several titles for it, but I liked “The Mystic” the most.
I was an old soul in a young body searching for the light. But along my journey, all I saw were scars, bruises, bullet holes, and open wounds on the face of the Earth that gazed out into the Universe with shadowy eyes.
As I gathered these thoughts, the perfect line to complement the first one rolled from my pen…
Your demons hide in shadows, afraid to face the light.
The next lines rushed through me like a rivers channeling through my veins with images of humanity as a whole transforming into simple words about the vanity of mankind, the lives full of toil and fear, and the inevitability of mortality.
You let the walls close in on you to hide from your fear.
But no matter what you do, the Reaper’s always near.
The Reaper’s always near.
I placed a period to mark the end of that verse. I still had no idea where this song would lead me, but wherever it wanted to go, I would follow:
Every morning, the sun rises, but your Spirit stays low.
You wonder if you’ll ever learn, all you need to know.
And you hear the prophets’ words echo in the back of your mind,
But are they enough to keep you alive, at the end of time?
At the end of time?
The old ways are long forgotten in the shadow of the new
There are those shunned by the many, but embraced by the few
But we’re all just as different as we are the same
Can you hear the echoes of your forefathers calling out your name?
Calling out your name?
I felt a sense of contentment wash over me like the cleansing River of Life as I finished writing my very first song. Despite how detached I felt with worldly affairs, I had a yearning to reach out to people and create more songs that would resonate within the souls of every being.
This is my calling. It’s been calling out my name this whole time.
This memory still interests me today because “Echoes” was the first song I wrote and even though I’ve written dozens of songs after that, this is the song that still resonates with me the most. I was at my lowest point spiritually, five years ago, when I experienced depression, loss of faith in humanity, and absolutely no real sense of identity.
However, as I look back to the lyrics of this song, I realize that my spirit has always been seeking a higher plane, fighting for a meaningful purpose in life, and guiding me back into the light, not the light out there, but the light that I’ve been able to harness without any external influences.
The art of songwriting has liberated me, and I have a better sense of who I am. I may not be who I want to be yet, but the memory of writing my first song helps me see that songwriting brings more contentment to my life than anything else, and I look forward to writing more songs in the future.