Toughen Up

But even when one is dead and gone
It still take two to make a house home
I’m as lonesome as the catacombs
I hear you call me name and no one is there
Just a feeling in the air

‘Cause you and I both know that the house is haunted
Yeah you and I both know that the ghost is me
You used to walk around screaming, all slamming all ‘dem doors.
Well I’m all grown up now and I don’t scare easy no more —Shakey Graves

Here’s an interpretation of this song…

The people we lose (to death, or for other reasons), if we love them, haunt us after they are gone. But really, what haunts us is the fact that we allow ourselves to continue to think of them. That is, we allow ourselves to “scare easily”. The word “allow” implies that there’s an individual choice involved here. We can, if we want, “grow up” and not “scare easy no more”. Ya know, like toughen up, and join the real world where pain happens, and where we devise mechanisms to cope with this pain.

I get that, for our own health, we need to devise such mechanisms to cope with the pain of losing someone, but something irks me about it. If these losses are really haunting (and they are), then “growing up” just sounds like abandonment or the suppression of an important, painful, and very real feeling. Is suppression the right response? Is toughening up the right response? Maybe. I don’t know. It seems to me that, in general, we’re already tough enough, and that often, we’re too indifferent to pain and suffering. Maybe the world needs less toughness.


1 Comment

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One response to “Toughen Up

  1. Charlie

    Perhaps, “growing up” is really a rationalization of ignoring ones true self, as must be done when “life is tough”. One thing is for sure, understanding your emotions and the fact that they are a necessary means to sanity is a maturity, better yet, a virtue that many struggle to attain. Without hardship, one cannot enjoy the fulfillment from happiness fully.

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