The Book of Life Saved Me by Joshua Moore
Now I before I start, I want to preface by saying that I’m writing this sick as hell and in bed right now but I wanted to get some thoughts on paper about how I feel. My intent is for this to be a jumbled mess. Because that’s how I feel; like a jumbled mess. Also. No need to check up on me after this. I’m good for the most part lol.
I’m currently going through an existential crisis.
More often than not, I’m down on myself. I have confidence issues. It’s becoming harder to get out of bed to start my day. I hate going outside and being social. I’m admittedly a prisoner of my own thoughts. I tend to over think things and always expect the worst. And I always come back to this question; what’s the point?
I’m not to a point of physical self harm or anything like that. I’m aware that life has its ebs and flows. My life is pretty good. I can acknowledge that and I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a multitude of people around me that love and care about me. I have a solid job. I hate it. But it’s solid. I’m financially stable. So why do I feel so unfulfilled? Why am I becoming increasingly unmotivated? Maybe it’s a confidence issue. I honestly don’t have a good answer.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this either. Throughout my life I have always considered myself a pretty talented guy. I was pretty multifaceted in high school. I liked to write. I liked to draw. But I was known, and wanted to be known for one thing over everything else: track and field. Track and Field has been my favorite sport since the 1996 olympics. I remember seeing Michael Johnson double in the 200m and 400m and saying to myself, “That’s what I want to do. This is who I want to be.” I remember how nervous I was when I first tried out for my grade school’s track team in the 3rd grade. I remember how I was the slowest person in my age group after that tryout. I remember going home and crying to my mom and being so embarrassed about being the slowest. But I also remember how motivated I was to never be the slowest person on my team again.
I worked extremely hard from then on to make sure that never happened, and it worked. By the summer before my freshman year of college I had very high hopes for a successful college career. It didn’t necessarily go as planned. I struggled. A ton. I eventually even thought about quitting. But I couldn’t. This was my purpose. I was born to be a track and field athlete. I firmly believed that was my place in the world. By the time my senior year started I had new found life. Fall training went extremely well. I thought I had finally figured it out and gotten over the hump. I was primed for a breakthrough. But then November 6th happened. Anyone familiar with this date knows that it was election night. Barack just won his second term. So I decided to celebrate. By smoking. You’ll never guess what happened next. A surprise drug test bright and early November 8th. Needless to say I failed. My punishment? I was kicked off the team. I was devastated. My purpose was taken away from me by a stupid decision. Remember that self doubt and blame that I mentioned earlier? That was the genesis of it.
“How can you understand the pain, when you never had to stand under the rain? When it rains, it pours. And it’s about to come down hard.”
I fell into a dark place. Relationships changed. I was more closed off and recluse. I spent a lot of my last semester of undergrad on the couch and away from friends. I was embarrassed. How could I be so dumb? I felt like an abject failure and honestly some times I still do when I think about it. I even began to go through an identity crisis. This was who I identified myself as for the majority of my life. My dream and purpose was snatched away from me because of a personal decision. The wrong decision.
Like most I tried to use music as catharsis but this time none of my favorite songs were cheering me up at the time. Randomly, I stumbled onto Common’s 1994 album Resurrection. For all
The hip hop purists reading this, it’s the album that brought us “I Used to Love HER”, a song some would consider his magnum opus. But that’s not what caught my attention. I got to track #4, titled “Book of Life”. The song narrated the mind of a young black man as he broods over existentialism, hopelessness, depression, escapism, and overall finding purpose.
“I’m living with a full deck and any day I can fold. What makes it bad, I wasn’t dealt that bad a hand.”
Up to this point I was struggling to articulate how i felt at the time. But somehow this random song was doing so. He was not only speaking to me, but speaking for me. Needless to say it made me feel better to know that other people were feeling the same way I felt. Even if Common didn’t go through this personally, he was able to speak to this crisis so effectively that I was moved. What stood out most to me was, despite all of his trials, he was still able to find solace. He doesn’t go in-depth on what that solace was but he found it. I needed to find salvation and purpose in something. Track and field was that something for me for so long. But now that it isn’t, now what? Regardless, I wasn’t in that space anymore. I had renewed hope that I’d be able to find my true purpose some day.
The Book of Life saved me.
“But now it’s like, I’m getting older. there’s so much strain and stress. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy until I Rest In Peace, of mind. And find who I am. But thank god I found you.”
Since this moment I’ve fallen in and out of darker places but I always manage to get my mind right by listening to this song. Even if it’s temporary, I want to acknowledge that there is light within that darkness. I also want to acknowledge that lately it’s been harder. I’ve gone through more personal trials that I won’t discuss now (maybe at a later time). Through these tough times, even when I’m at my absolute lowest, the hope of finding purpose keeps me going. I’m still looking for the “you” Common was talking about and I’m confident I will find it someday. Hopefully I find “you” soon.