Songs of Engagement

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News May 2013

Favorite songs are examples of long-term goals.

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I wrote about my “Rules of Engagement” last month, and I’m often asked if I have them memorized. The answer is no.

When asked if I always have my rules with me, the answer is yes. There is a special section in my planner for my personal long-term goals, and the rules of engagement are the complete first page.

But that isn’t the only way I try to remember them. I’ve also chosen one particular song that exemplifies the meaning of each rule, and I’ve placed them in my MP3 player and YouTube listing. I use them to energize me whenever I’m feeling down, tired, and have basically had it for the day.

I’ve been asked to share the list, and I’m happy to do it. However, I urge you to find your own song for each rule and make the emotion your own.

The song for rule number one, “You are your first line of defense,” is Philadelphia Freedom, by Elton John. Since rule one is about drawing a line in the sand, so to speak, and taking control of yourself and your future, I wanted a song I know would energize me.

For number two, “Put someone in your corner who will not let you fail,” I chose Stand by Me. There is the original and there is a version by a group called Playing for Change. Either version, the message still comes through. 

I picked Everything I Need by Keb Mo for rule number three, “Learn to be happy with nothing.”

Rule number four is “Depression, OK but don’t let it rule over you forever.” This is a special case since depression is not something that just pops up. I chose Sad Songs Say So Much because it doesn’t try to tell you how to get out of the depression but allows you a moment to believe someone out there is feeling the same.

“Life goes on, with or witout you” is my fifth rule, and the accompanying song to that is Better Man, again by Keb Mo. To this day I can’t listen to this song without not keeping my eyes dry.

Rule number six is, “Every day, take time to play.” The song I’ve chosen for this rule is One Bad Apple, by the Osmond Brothers. Not just for the lyrics, which state basically just because you’ve been hurt once, don’t give up on living, but also because of the brothers. Alan has MS, and I feel a certain affinity with the family when I listen to their music.

“To not measure yourself by what happens to you” is rule seven. Learn that life is change, and there are times when we can’t do anything about it, except roll with it and keep going.  That’s why I’ve chosen Time to Change by the Brady Bunch.

Yes, you’ve read correctly. You can find the song on YouTube, and I listen to it frequently, not to be cool but to hear the words and find strength and comfort in them.

For rule eight, “Never ever stop dreaming,” I use the song Keep the Faith by Michael Jackson. Not one of the more popular ones, but for me hearing Michael say don’t give up, keep trudging ahead, provides me sometimes with just the right amount of energy I
need to get through the rest of the day.

“Love may be the key” is rule nine, and I listen to Beautiful in My Eyes by Joshua Kadisson. Make sure to pick a song that truly touches your heart for this one.

I’ve been told by some folks there is no song that touches their heart, and right now that could be true. Sometimes the challenge is allowing someone or something to reach your heart. And hey, if it was easy, everyone would have done it already.

The last rule is, “It’s time to stop and smell the roses.” You’ll find a song by that same name by singer Mac Davis.

I urge you to listen first to all these songs, keep the ones that work for you, and switch out the ones that don’t. Either way, take my song list and make it your own, and use it on those days when you find you need just a bit more energy to make it than you thought you would. It might get you through the evening routine and finally into bed for the night. 


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