Wisdom from Pearl Jam

Every time I hear the song, “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam on the car radio, all talking must cease. The boys know it’s coming. The shhhsh’s commence, and the radio volume increases. They’ve long stopped arguing with me that they are sick of the song, or they just don’t like it. Too bad. I win. Now hush. The song plays on.

There’s something captivating about this song. I enter another world when I hear it. Certain music has that effect on me. Sometimes it has to do with the lyrics. Sometimes it’s the instrumentation. Many times it’s the passion I hear in the lead singer’s voice. Often, though, it’s a mixture of many elements, as it is with “Just Breathe.”

I love the sound of Eddie Vedder’s voice in this song. There’s such certainty and maturity to it. He truly believes in the words he’s singing. He knows what it is like to be loved by many, but he has a deep desire to tell his one love that he needs her and wants her for as long as this life allows. It’s not a platitude or cliche. I can feel the emotion in his voice as he contemplates the life he’s lived and the life yet to come.

In one interview, Vedder explained the song this way, “It’s saying, ‘Just stop, and be together. Don’t talk now, just breathe and feel each other’s presence – now that the kids are in bed.'”

Recently, I was telling a friend  how I’ll always love my husband, as well as other men I’ve had in my life. As sad as the “letting go” can be, I feel so blessed to have known so much love in my life. Each of my close relationships have brought something unique into my life.  Even when the loss is profoundly painful, I can genuinely thank God for the person I may be losing.

That doesn’t mean I walk away from relationships without regrets. One of the common regrets I face is that I spend too much time over-analyzing and judging, rather than simply enjoying the other person’s presence. This is not an easy thing to admit. I would much rather you assume I can be still in the presence of someone I love. I would love to say that I can let life unfold in all its beauty and tragedy as I am just there… there with the one I love. But I tend to analyze things to death and my mind is constantly looking for the deeper meaning in things. That intensity can wear people out.

Interestingly enough, most people would say I’m happy-go-lucky, or laid back, and to an extent that is true. But in my most intimate relationships, I can forget to “just breathe.” Perhaps it’s the fear of losing that person that I can be hyper-alert to nuances in speech and/or body language.  Or, perhaps it is my insatiable appetite to understand people and what makes them tick. There are several reasons why I have a hard time with this whole “just breathe” thing. But now that I’m recognizing it, I have begun to practice the discipline of simply “being” in the midst of those I love. That doesn’t mean that the time is void of feeling or thinking, but there is a mental shift from examination and evaluation to one of enjoyment and contentment.

I mention relationships with men, but I can do this with my kids as well. I can get so tied up in making something special or assigning meaning to a particular situation that I forget that sometimes we all need to rest in one another’s presence. That there is something sacred about feeling safe and secure as we simply sit together or drive down the road with having to talk or fill space with the sound of our voices.

So thank you for the lesson, Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. I appreciate these words:

Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh,..
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,..

Some folks just have one,
yeah, others, they’ve got none, huh-uh

Stay with me,..
Let’s just breathe.

Practiced are my sins,
never gonna let me win, aw-huh,..
Under everything, just another human being, aw-huh,..
Yeh, I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world
to make me bleed.

Stay with me,..
You’re all I see.

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean.

I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw-huh,..
Everything you gave
And nothing you would take, aw huh,..
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave…

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn’t I’m a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean, ah-ah…

Nothing you would take,..
Everything you gave.
Hold me till I die,..
Meet you on the other side.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Wisdom from Pearl Jam

  1. derek wallace

    Leinbach-clued into the Presence of God!

  2. There’s a song I heard on a retreat once that goes “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy…”

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