Finding myself listening to Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” on my iPhone again.  Every time I listen to this damn song I have to stop what I am doing and focus on Johnny’s soulful sound.  Remembering Elaine’s “Desperado” boyfriend from Seinfeld!   I never intentionally play him, but every now and then Johnny pops up randomly on shuffle mode flooding my ears with his iconic style.  There are many interpretations of the lyrics to the song, including drug addiction and a regretful life resulting from stardom.  The question, street baller Sydney Deane might ask, is can you “hear” the Man in Black when he sings his song?  Although it may have a different meaning to the original song writer, I personally like to concentrate on how music relates to me and my life.  And though I prefer to be listening to a livelier tune, on cue I begin to ponder life and reflect on the meaning of what it is to hurt.

The truth is we could all use a little more hurt in our lives.  Happiness to me is a fickle mistress who flees easily from our hearts at the slightest sign of trouble.  It’s because of this that we often live life with an emotional wall built up.  This wall prevents us from getting too close to others.  We meet new people and keep them at distance, don’t share enough of ourselves with family members and friends, and often begin relationships with our guard up thinking it will lessen the sting of rejection.  We do these things because we think we are protecting ourselves, or are protecting others from us.  It’s a natural defense mechanism that I believe robs us of having truly meaningful relationships with the people in our lives.  Despite these futile efforts, you can get hurt and will be hurt at some point.  It could be a betrayal by someone you care for, a loss in someone’s death, or from a crushing heartbreak.  Maybe you are the one that will cause someone’s pain.  It’s inevitable and it’s a truth of life.

By now you may be thinking to yourself this is depressing and what’s this kid’s point!  And isn’t “”Hurt” a Nine Inch Nails song?  Well, like O-Ren Ishii, but without the beheading, allow me to convince you right here and now of my intentions.  The reality is you don’t always need to have your guard up.  Simply put, invest in others and see how it enriches your life.  I am not saying you have to get all sentimental and share your inner feelings with your buddy.   It’s really all about having the emotional intelligence to create and foster relationships with people.  You could always focus on creating a fortune, achieving fame and success, but it will be like an “empire of dirt” without people in your life.

Now I am a realist, and I know things are easier said than done.  I personally suck at opening up to others.  My first inclination is to keep people at arms length because eventually you will get burned, and the resulting pain is a treacherous bitch when it hits you.  Furthermore, it’s true that not everyone you meet is going to be your friend or always be in your life.  Nor is every person you care for going to open up to you in return.  Imagine though, living life knowing no pain or failure.  Not me!  I want to feel the hurt.  I want to embrace it.  It lets me know that I put it all out there, and that my place will never be with those that believe that life is better spent on the sidelines of happiness and grief.  Again easier said than done, right?  Perhaps, but even if you know that you’ll get the curveball, why not still swing for the fences!   No pain no gain!  That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!  Sometimes slapping the pig makes for great bacon!  Ok, I made that last one up, but you get the point.

In the end, if we were just willing to risk the hurt that comes with letting it all hang out by opening up to others, we may just end up happier people.  So, the next time you’re with someone you have been holding back on, take a moment and be yourself.  By giving more of yourself to those you know, you may just get a little back in return by providing them the impetus to do the same.  And remember, what ever your interpretation of it is, “Hurt” can always be there to serve as a reminder of what really matters thanks to good ole Johnny Cash.

Coincidentally, as my trance ends and my library randomly begins playing another song, “O’Death” by Ralph Stanley, I realize I am in need of a more upbeat playlist!

(Song Disclaimer – Johnny Cash says “Don’t use Drugs!”)


Written by Ryan