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“No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods

I’ve written about this song before. It means a lot to me for a variety of reasons.

First off, Into the Woods is one of my favourite shows and I’ve had the pleasure of being in it twice: once as the Baker’s Wife (only act one (junior edition!), but my dream is to play her in the whole thing one day) and a second time in High School as half of the narrator (my best friend played the mysterious man!; technically two sides of the same coin?). The original cast recording is also downright magical in my eyes (ears?).

So, “No One is Alone.” Why did I write an essay about it Senior Year of High School? Why did my 11-year-old best friend include a quote from the song in my birthday card? Why did I keep the card indefinitely?

Lots to unpack. Yay!

To start this off, I need to talk about Sondheim’s writing in general. In my opinion, he’s very good at writing lyrics that double as ingenious life advice. For example:

“Stop worrying where you’re going/move on[…]Anything you do/Let it come from you/Then it will be new”

– Sunday in the Park with George

“Somebody need me too much,/Somebody know me too well./Somebody pull me up short,/and put me through hell/and give me support/for being alive./Make me alive[…]vary my days./But alone,/is alone,/not aliiiiiive!/Somebody crowd me with love/somebody force me to care. Somebody let me come through/I’ll always be there/As frightened as you/to help us survive/Being alive”

– Company

So, what type of wisdom does the song, “No One Is Alone” include?

In the play, all four characters are dealing with a loss. Either a loss of a loved one or their identity. In my opinion the song has two seemingly paradoxical messages:

“Sometimes people leave you/halfway through the wood./Others may deceive you, /you decide what’s good./You decide alone,/No one is alone.

At a glance, the song is very “You Will Be Found”/don’t feel alone even though you’re lonely because there are people you may have never met that are on your side.

But I think there is AT LEAST one deeper message that helps make this show the timeless gem that it is: When you’re by yourself figuring things out for yourself, listening to your gut, you’re actually far from alone.* There are people that will be in your corner and others that aren’t and life will change and evolve, ebb and flow, but you’ll always have you and if you’re there, you’re not alone.

More succinctly, if you’re true to yourself, you’re not alone.

Yea, this song is the best.

ADDENDUM (“And ANOTHER thing!” – Jennifer Mankin) – In my haste to finish this post and get it off my to-do list, I missed exploring another crucial layer to this song.

Alrighty, here we go:

Sondheim manages to seamlessly weave so many layers of humanity into this song, while still adhering to his titular statement:

“No one acts alone./Careful”

“No one is alone” is meant to both comfort and warn us. You’re not alone, but neither are the people who may want to hurt you, for example.

“People make mistakes!/Fathers,/Mothers./People make mistakes./Holding to their own,/thinking they’re alone”

I don’t think this quote has just one interpretation, a common occurrence in Sondheim’s lyrics. One that resonate with me: those responsible for the welfare of others (fathers/mothers/guardians/carers) may make mistakes out of stubbornness, forgetting their very important connection to another.

“Honor their mistakes!/Fight for their mistakes! Everybody makes [mistakes]/One another’s/terrible mistakes!”

This is an interesting one. I wouldn’t interpret this as “blindly follow in your parents’ example” (although, if you don’t reflect on what you’ve learned as a child, that’s a likely behavioral outcome). More interestingly, I think of this lyric as declaring “we ALL make mistakes,” don’t let that stop you fighting for those you love and want to lift up.

Bit of a side-note: The ability to see the world through another’s eyes (especially the eyes of someone from a completely different background to yourself) requires going  into situations that challenge you (e.g., “into the woods”) and opening yourself up to meeting new people from diverse backgrounds.

“Witches can be right,/ giants can be good./You decide what’s right,/you decide what’s good”

This maps onto my side-note. People can and will defy your stereotypes. In the end, it’s up to YOU to decide what’s “right” and what’s “good.” which harks back to my first deeper interpretation of this song: be true to yourself.

I really do believe it’s our responsibility to be true to ourselves and not to just blindly follow in the footsteps of others (unless…being true to yourself is being a follower? I guess? dunno). I recently went through a period where I wasn’t being completely true to myself and it negatively impacted important aspects of my life. It was a real bummer. ALSO, I was super unhappy pretending not to be me. It felt “easier” and I pretty persuasively convinced myself it was a good idea, but…yea, it wasn’t.

OK! One last quote:

“You move just a finger/say the slightest word/something’s bound to linger/be heard”

Yea, this is a super beautiful segment. Both sonically and semantically.

Very Butterfly Effect, but with a tone of hope and urgency. We’re connected. Don’t fret, something you write/do/say is bound to linger. Whether for a day, week, decade, millennium.

Also, there are a lot of voices out there but if you DON’T make yours heard, nothings going to linger…so, be heard!

NOW, that’s it for this week :0)

Thanks for reading!!

– Molly

*I think of “alone” as a synonym for “lonely” in this context (but I may be wrong).

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Being honest with/about your mental health issues will help you heal

As people who know me are already aware, I try to be honest about my mental health issues:

  1. I have generalized anxiety
  2. I had depression (but still have shortish episodes occasionally)
  3. I used to self-harm (use sharp objects to scratch my forearm) but have stopped now. Instead, I have mild anger issues that I’m working on.
  4. I’m on meds (you can ask if you wanna know which ones)
  5. I see a certified therapist, privately, on a weekly/sometimes bi-weekly basis.
  6. I occasionally see a private psychiatrist (like I’M “crazy” enough to get on the NHS waiting list! looool (behind the laughter, I’m crying)!)
  7. I avoid difficult topics by making jokes
  8. I yoga and sing to feel better (that’s probably all “socially acceptable,” but since we’re sharing…)

Thusly, I’m fine admitting that I’m not perfect. No one I know is perfect. A few people I know THINK they are perfect (or at least act that way towards me).

If you or someone you know is dealing with tenuous mental health (we probably all are/will at some point in our life). Know:

  1. You’ll be fiiiiine :0) as long as you don’t avoid what’s happening. Think “I’m Not Afraid of Anything“…yea, she’s afraid of fucking EVERYTHING!
  2.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid to find YOUR OWN rhythm
  3. Cut people out who don’t genuinely care about you
  4. Maybe…take a break from social media? If you think you may be addicted. Also, try taking a break from anything else you’re addicted to.
  5. Try to really think, deep down about what may be negatively impacting your life. This can be…your job, your routine, your close relationships, your addictions, politics, capitalism, more generally.
  6. Get. a. CERTIFIED. therapist. Do NOT just rely on family. or. friends. or. alcohol. That’s fucking bullshit if you’re really struggling. You do not need to feel fucking ashamed for seeing a therapist. Start with the NHS if you’re in the UK. Maybe pay £15-40/hr if you have the money (if you can go to the pub every week, you have the fucking money).
  7. Go back to what you love.

Feel free to share you own struggles in the comments section if you think it will help :0) 

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All I want for Valentine’s Day are…BOUNDARIES!

Happy Valentine’s Day, World!

Mmmmm…the sweet, sweet taste of a new boundary. Fresh from the oven! Thank you ever so much, you lovely valentine.

A few observations/reflections:

  • OBSERVATION: Not everyone who loves me has my best interests at heart. Unfortunately, they may not know that.
  • REFLECTION: I don’t always think about the other person when I send them a FB message or text message. That’s not OK.
  • OBSERVATION & REFLECTION: Calling someone over and over again from another room or on the phone is not always because there is an emergency. That’s not OK.
  • OBSERVATION: Reprimanding someone because they’re younger than you or not a white man…and not reflecting on your own behavior? Not OK.
  • OBSERVATION: Letting the political climate dictate your actions. Especially towards someone on a lower rung of the latter, professionally. Not OK.

I have A LOT of reasons to be enjoying my Valentine’s Day but that doesn’t mean I am. Why? I’m in the process of establishing boundaries and I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

If you’re reading this going, “BOUNDARIES? What ARE those?” or “Boundaries? I don’t need those silly old things.” Then, read up or grow up.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

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Molly’s thoughts on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Episode 13 (Season 2)

Dudes, I just finished watching the season finale of CEG for the second time and randomly cried, AGAIN. This time at the bit when she’s in a hospital ward outside and the nurse describes her as the “girl who sings to herself and we don’t know why.”

Some context: As a very nerdy, musical theatre dork, it was always challenging for me to maintain self-confidence in my teens. I wore pink leggings and a turquoise swimming skirt to MY AP CLASSES (a friend even dressed up like me for halloween). I had -0 fashion sense (but  A+ for effort!).

On the day of silence in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, me and my friend would pass notes back and forth with quotes from show tunes. I once got called to my guidance counsellor’s office because a teacher found a note that read, “It takes a lot of men to make a gun” (from Assassins) . Basically, I was fucking ridiculous and very emotionally charged.

The girl in the patio of a mental ward is where I imagine myself ending up when I’m not doing well. And if I ever do end up there, fuck yes I’ll be singing ALL the show-tunes to myself.

Basically, I wanted to say to myself as much as to anyone else who reads my blog: there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being perceived as crazy or feeling crazy (as long as you don’t kill or hurt anyone…intentionally!)

Boooom!

Mic drop.