If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.
Whenever I travel somewhere to speak I am often asked about the place I call home. The first response I give is usually that I am from Michigan, which is true, but to be completely honest my journey in this world actually began in the city of Bowling Green, Ohio. My family raise me not far from the hospital for the first nine years of my life, but after the company where my father worked was bought by a bigger company we were forced to relocate in order to maintain our quality of life. It was a tough decision, but ultimately it set into motion numerous events that would lead me to become the person I am today. I have no regrets about this, and from what I understand neither do my parents. Moving on was hard, but sometimes in life the hardest things to do are also the things we need the most.
Before Their Eyes are a hard rock band from the same area of Ohio that I once called home, and the ages of the members are not far off from my own. I wouldn’t go as far as to say we know where one another are coming from, but there is something to the determination and clear dedication to craftsmanship found in the music of Before Their Eyes that I hope is also evident in everything I attempt. When their music plays I know that somewhere in the world there is a group of young men who have poured every ounce of creativity they have between them into the product I am enjoying, and it makes me want to give just as much of myself to the people who consume what I create. They motivate me to be a better version of myself, and while that has always been the case with their music there is something special about their new album, Midwest Modesty, that furthers these efforts in ways I never previously though possible.
While I could pick apart every message and instruction found in Midwest Modesty, which part of me does desire to do, I’ve chosen to use this Monday Motivation to highlight a single song that I believe summarizes what makes the music of Before Their Eyes so great. “How It Feels To Be Defeated” is a song created with the help of Craig Owens, another midwest native, that deals with loss, the feeling of hopelessness, and the realization that time will continue to pass whether or not you take it upon yourself to move forward. It’s a haunting and at times heartbreakingly honest portrayal of grief set to music, and when it plays you cannot help becoming entranced by every note, lyric, and chord Before Their Eyes chooses to share. I’m going to talk about it more, but you should really take time to hear the song now:
The thing no one tells you about dealing with loss and/or grief is that it is largely an adventure that is unique to the person experiencing it. There will be moments that can be likened to the experiences of others, sure, but ultimately the path we take in order to reclaim our lives is one we must carve ourselves. The things lost and found along the way, however numerous they may be, are again unique to each and every individual. “How It Feels To Be Defeated” understands this concept, and in the opening lines they walk through the initial realization that life as we know it has collapsed. Maybe we lost someone we love, or maybe we simply lost our way, but at this point there is no undo button. There is nothing that can be done to change what has happened, so all we are left with is the present and the knowledge that we will continue on while others do not. Even if we do nothing, time will carry us, ever-moving and ever-evolving.
As the song progresses, you hear the desperation that comes from not knowing the answer of what will come next. Any experience with loss, no matter how small, will irrevocably change the world as we know it moving forward. The way our lives flow, the people we talk to, and the things we wish to talk about may all be changed by the loss of just one element of our daily lives. The uncertainty that is created in the presence of unavoidable change is one that lives deep in the soul of everyone in that moment, and it’s on the individual to navigate their way to clearer thoughts. You don’t have to know the next step right away, but you cannot live in fear of making another move. Lack of movement is still a decision, and the damage done from choosing to live with grief can be as painful as the initial loss, if not more so. I know I have tried to live with my grief, and I can tell you firsthand it is not a path you want to follow. The pain never goes numb. It just grows and evolves, coming to light in different and often frightening ways as time goes on.
When the song reaches its end, which also coincides with what I would consider the lyrical climax, we’re told of a feeling in the stomach of someone dealing with grief that tells them there is more in this life for them. Maybe it comes in the form of a fleeting notion, or maybe it comes in the form of a new person entering their life, but at some point everyone dealing with grief has to grapple with the idea that they must find a way to keep living. As much as we may feel we want to live with our grief, it’s simply not something humans were ever equipped to do. We were not meant to grieve endlessly for those we have lost or the things we wanted that never came to be. We were meant to grow and learn, evolving as we need to in order to survive. Living with grief is not survival, and to be completely honest once more it’s worse than defeat. To be defeated implies that you tried to move on and failed, and if that happens then you’re absolutely entitled to take more time to grieve if such a thing is needed, but you cannot dwell in heartache forever. No one can.
When I listen to this song, as well as the rest of Midwest Modesty, I am inspired to make the most of the life I have been given. Songs like “How It Feels To Be Defeated” are reminders that life is both precious and short, with no one being promised anything more than the breath currently held within their lungs. People, places, and things will all turn to dust in time, including our own bodies, and there is nothing we can do to stop that from becoming true. The best we can hope for is to live long enough to see ourselves become the people we know we are capable of being. Not everyone will get to that point, and we need to make time to mourn them when they pass, but we cannot let the loss of others prevent us from living. Our time on this planet is short, and the music of Before Their Eyes is a great reminder that we need to make the most of the time we have been given.
Midwest Modesty arrives in stores this Friday, December 18. Do yourself a favor and pre-order a copy today.
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder o fAntique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.