Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Do It Again" by Nada Surf

One of my favorite bands, Nada Surf, recently came out with a new album of covers and to whet my appetite before I could get my hands on some digital mp3's I went back to some of their old albums and listened to them all the way through.  One song kept sticking out to me because a few lines really resonated with a convergence of work/family overload I recently experienced.  But as I dug out from that overload I started to see the song differently and through the eyes of some of the family members of patients who were dying.


Here is a video of Nada Surf performing "Do It Again" live in a record store (there is no official video and check out the cool drum box the drummer is using, it is called a cajon and is very fun to play!):



The main lyric that first caught my attention was near the end of the song when the energy picks up from the mid tempo relaxed arrangement used for most of the song.  The lyric is:

Maybe this weight was a gift / Like I had to see what I could lift
I spend all my energy / Walking upright
This resonated deeply with me in my own experience as I noted above, but again placing that lyric in the mindset of our patients' families makes the other lyrics start to come alive. 

The first verse perfectly describes a common situation I have seen where a family member or friend of a dying patient is attentive and wanting to help but doesn't have a good framework of what would help best for someone who is dying.  And during that time, they tell me they often feel exhausted, bored, anxious, on alert, and ineffective.  
Well I'd snap to attention / If I thought that you knew the way
I'd open my mouth / If I had something smart to say /
I bought a stack of books / I didn't read a thing
It's like I'm sitting here / Waiting for birds to sing
The last line of the first verse echoes many other references to birds and death as Amy has pointed out in a blog post on 'Bird hits the window.' 

The azalea reference in the second verse was one I was not familiar with until I started researching this song in depth for this post.  Some of the meanings for Azalea flowers include:
  • temperance
  • passion
  • womanhood (China)
  • take care of yourself for me
  • fragility
Placing the last two possible meanings with the other clues in the lyrics indicate someone caring for a sick person:
You're lying down / And the moon is sideways
And I like the masking noise quiet / Of your breathing nearby
Interestingly the name of the album is 'The Weight is a Gift.'  Which also echoes a sentiment I hear from patients, families and staff, which is that 'God will not give us more (weight) than one can handle.'  This saying may be rooted in I Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
While it mentions temptations and not more specifically trials, you could see the basic sentiment exists that has launched many self-help books.  People endure many different hardships throughout their life and eventually most get through it but they have changed, some for good and some for worse.  How one emerges from the tough times is up to the individual and their support system, but it may sometimes turn out that 'the weight was a gift.'  Just don't tell that too them in the middle of their journey.  That is only something that should be self-discovered.

Lyrics: (2005 Barsuk Records - The Weight is a Gift)
Well I'd snap to attention / If I thought that you knew the way
I'd open my mouth / If I had something smart to say
I bought a stack of books / I didn't read a thing
It's like I'm sitting here / Waiting for birds to sing

Let's do it again
Come on let's do it again
Please let's do it again

The hum of the clock / Is a far-away place
The azalea air holding your face / You're lying down
And the moon is sideways / (From the hot to the cold It never gets old)

I spend all my energy / Staying upright
And I like the masking noise quiet / Of your breathing nearby

I want you lazy science / I want some peace
Are you the future? / Show me the keys

When I accelerate / I remember why it's good to be alive / Like a twenty-five cent game
Maybe this weight was a gift / Like I had to see what I could lift
I spend all my energy / Walking upright

9 Responses to “"Do It Again" by Nada Surf”

Dr. Pam said...
June 14, 2010 at 7:48 AM

The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) are full of references of carrying burdens or bearing yokes. The Israelites faced multiple enslavements as a people and also endured conflicts of civil wars. There are also personal prayers of lament in the psalms--Psalm 55 is one of those in which the author has experienced betrayal by a friend. The lament psalms, while examples of some of the most poignant and heart-wrenching pleas for help in literature, also have some of the greatest statements of hope and faith as their typical resolution.

Psalm 55:22 (NRS) "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."

It would be simplistic to read the psalms as saying that people will never face trouble--rather they are faith statements that those suffering will survive the trials through God's help. (Even on those days when we have to see how much we can lift.)


Christian Sinclair, MD said...
June 14, 2010 at 8:21 AM

The link I put in the original post about 'more than we can handle' has a long discussion thread and some people mention a few of the verses in Psalms. There were so many with some variations that I didn't write them all here, but I am glad you brought it up. Psalms 55:22 does seem to fit better than the I Corinthians saying we hear echoed so often.

I knew I could count on you for a biblical reference!


Dr. Pam said...
June 15, 2010 at 5:01 AM

It is interesting that many Biblical scholars believe that the first book of the canon committed (in its present form at least) to writing (possibly around the time of the Babylonian exile) was the Book of Job--one of the ultimate stories of suffering.

It is also interesting that people have an expression "the patience of Job." Job was not particularly "patient"--he was faithful to God through his multiple losses of his family, possessions, and health, but he was physically sick and grieving more than being patient. His wife and best friends even accused him of all the bad things that happened as being all his fault. Things were so bad that Job "took God to court" to demand answers that he never got. [There are parallel stories in much of the literature of the ancient Near East (what would now be areas such as Iran and Iraq) and in writings of multiple other religious faiths as well.] In the end, though, God brought good to Job out of the worst evil.

It is that message of hope that I believe resonates with people in deepest despair and struggle, even if the absolute quote does not appear in scripture. God's bringing good from evil is part of the central story of the Christian faith--the resurrection of Christ as the ultimate victory of God over those who would try to kill the message. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way in his eulogy of the girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, "God still has a way of wringing good out of evil."

We often have relatives wanting to shelter patients from bad news so as "not to take away hope." As most of us in HPM have probably experienced, part of our job is to help people have hope, but possibly in a different way. Establishing realistic goals and maintaining hope about those goals can be huge helps as coping strategies for patients and families. (When I have done pastoral counseling before, I have often recommended that people read Job and the lament psalms, to sit deeply with their suffering and know that they are not alone in their feelings. But then, just as the writings have a hopeful faith statement as a resolution, we begin to define what hope looks like for them again.)

We are in good company when we doubt if we can handle the things life throws at us. Even Mother Teresa of Calcutta is reported to have said, "I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much."


Earl Quijada said...
June 15, 2010 at 6:55 PM

I was reading Lamentations this weekend and this conversation triggered thoughts I had on Lamentations 3.

Full disclosure: I'm not a Bible scholar.

Anyhow...leading up to Lamentations 3:22-23 Jeremiah is sunk in darkness. Words used are "bitterness" and "soul far off from peace". He states "my strength and my hope is perished".

He then spends time talking of remembering which of course made my mind jump to "The Trapeze Swinger" Christian discussed awhile back. However in Jeremiah's recall, he is in such a deep funk he can't pull out of it. The phrases he uses implies his soul is basically dead.

Out of nowhere he states that in remembering despair, there is hope. A surprise, just like the theme of death and resurrection. I interpret that Love is never consumed and never fails (Lam 3:22,23)

In this I don't interpret as one suffers, have them remember love. Maybe there is a place for that but maybe it doesn't work in the deepest torpor. I see this rather for me, that in the presence of suffering, I remember that there is Love and in that presence, perhaps a chance of exchange.


CyndiC, RN said...
July 1, 2010 at 9:09 PM

These song words hit home to me.
Families so often feel impotent in those final days and hours. They want to help and don't know what to do.

This is where bedside nurses become so important. If they are uneducated and afraid, they run away--"they need their privacy", "I don't want to disturb them". And then they wonder whey so many families briefly visit and just leave the patient all alone...

Inpatient Nurses have the opportunity to teach families what is happening, that the patient may be able to hear/feel them if they seem "out of it", and give them simple things they can do: Range of Motion if still appropriate, gentle massage, mouth care, music, talking about memories, even helping to turn and bathe...

These are far more important nursing skills at this time vs all those "tasks" that we do!


CyndiC, RN said...
March 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM

These song words hit home to me.
Families so often feel impotent in those final days and hours. They want to help and don't know what to do.

This is where bedside nurses become so important. If they are uneducated and afraid, they run away--"they need their privacy", "I don't want to disturb them". And then they wonder whey so many families briefly visit and just leave the patient all alone...

Inpatient Nurses have the opportunity to teach families what is happening, that the patient may be able to hear/feel them if they seem "out of it", and give them simple things they can do: Range of Motion if still appropriate, gentle massage, mouth care, music, talking about memories, even helping to turn and bathe...

These are far more important nursing skills at this time vs all those "tasks" that we do!


Christian Sinclair, MD said...
March 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM

The link I put in the original post about 'more than we can handle' has a long discussion thread and some people mention a few of the verses in Psalms. There were so many with some variations that I didn't write them all here, but I am glad you brought it up. Psalms 55:22 does seem to fit better than the I Corinthians saying we hear echoed so often.

I knew I could count on you for a biblical reference!


Dr. Pam said...
March 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM

The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) are full of references of carrying burdens or bearing yokes. The Israelites faced multiple enslavements as a people and also endured conflicts of civil wars. There are also personal prayers of lament in the psalms--Psalm 55 is one of those in which the author has experienced betrayal by a friend. The lament psalms, while examples of some of the most poignant and heart-wrenching pleas for help in literature, also have some of the greatest statements of hope and faith as their typical resolution.

Psalm 55:22 (NRS) "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved."

It would be simplistic to read the psalms as saying that people will never face trouble--rather they are faith statements that those suffering will survive the trials through God's help. (Even on those days when we have to see how much we can lift.)


Dr. Pam said...
March 16, 2011 at 11:53 PM

It is interesting that many Biblical scholars believe that the first book of the canon committed (in its present form at least) to writing (possibly around the time of the Babylonian exile) was the Book of Job--one of the ultimate stories of suffering.

It is also interesting that people have an expression "the patience of Job." Job was not particularly "patient"--he was faithful to God through his multiple losses of his family, possessions, and health, but he was physically sick and grieving more than being patient. His wife and best friends even accused him of all the bad things that happened as being all his fault. Things were so bad that Job "took God to court" to demand answers that he never got. [There are parallel stories in much of the literature of the ancient Near East (what would now be areas such as Iran and Iraq) and in writings of multiple other religious faiths as well.] In the end, though, God brought good to Job out of the worst evil.

It is that message of hope that I believe resonates with people in deepest despair and struggle, even if the absolute quote does not appear in scripture. God's bringing good from evil is part of the central story of the Christian faith--the resurrection of Christ as the ultimate victory of God over those who would try to kill the message. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way in his eulogy of the girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963, "God still has a way of wringing good out of evil."

We often have relatives wanting to shelter patients from bad news so as "not to take away hope." As most of us in HPM have probably experienced, part of our job is to help people have hope, but possibly in a different way. Establishing realistic goals and maintaining hope about those goals can be huge helps as coping strategies for patients and families. (When I have done pastoral counseling before, I have often recommended that people read Job and the lament psalms, to sit deeply with their suffering and know that they are not alone in their feelings. But then, just as the writings have a hopeful faith statement as a resolution, we begin to define what hope looks like for them again.)

We are in good company when we doubt if we can handle the things life throws at us. Even Mother Teresa of Calcutta is reported to have said, "I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much."