Tag Archives: Dream Theater

The Key Is Willingness

I’ve been on a journey for a little over 8 months now. It has been a good journey, learning a lot about myself. Learning a lot about living life on life’s terms. Trying to make some positive changes in my life.

I have not kept it a secret that I am in recovery, hell it says so below in my “bio”. Some people wish that I did not speak so openly about it. I respect and understand their opinion, but they have to understand that this is what I am and talking and writing about it is part of what I need to do, so I am going to continue.

When I read the daily prompt this morning talking about a key, the very first thing that popped into my mind was that Willingness is the KEY to Recovery.

Willingness to try a new way of doing things, a new way of treating people, a new way of treating myself.

The next thing that popped into my brain was a song by one of my favorite bands Dream Theater, it is called “The Glass Prison”. It was written by Mike Portnoy about his path to recovery, or at least the first steps to it. I honestly do not expect anyone to listen to the entire song, as it is almost 14 minutes long (but it would be cool if you did), but I have put the lyrics below it. . . .so consider it like a poem.

The part of the song that I was reminded of was the third part:

III. REVELATION

Way off in the distance I saw a door
I tried to open
I tried forcing with all of my will but still
The door wouldn’t open

Unable to trust in my faith
I turned and walked away
I looked around, felt a chill in the air
Took my will and turned it over

The glass prison which once held me is gone
A long lost fortress
Armed only with liberty
And the key of my willingness

Fell down on my knees and prayed
“Thy will be done”
I turned around, saw a light shining through
The door was wide open

I still get a little teary eyed when I listen to this song or read the lyrics as it reminds me of how it used to be, and how it could be again if I do not do what I need to do to keep this disease, yes it is a disease, at bay. For those of you that are fortunate enough to have never had to deal with addiction or with someone that is in addiction, then please read the words to the song. I honestly think that this explains it much better than I ever could.

1. The Glass Prison

[music by Myung, Petrucci, Portnoy, Rudess]
[lyrics by Mike Portnoy]

[I. REFLECTION]

Cunning, Baffling, Powerful
Been beaten to a pulp
Vigorous, Irresistable
Sick and tired and laid low
Dominating, Invincible
Black-out, loss of control
Overwhelming, Unquenchable
I’m powerless, have to let go

I can’t escape it
It leaves me frail and worn
Can no longer take it
Senses tattered and torn

Hopeless surrender
Obsession’s got me beat
Losing the will to live
Admitting complete defeat

Fatal Descent
Spinning around
I’ve gone too far
To turn back round

Desperate attempt
Stop the progression
At any length
Lift this obsession

Crawling to my glass prison
A place where no one knows
My secret lonely world begins

So much safer here
A place where I can go
To forget about my daily sins

Life here in my glass prison
A place I once called home
Fall in nocturnal bliss again

Chasing a long lost friend
I no longer can control
Just waiting for this hopelessness to end

[II. RESTORATION]

Run – fast from the wreckage of the past
A shattered glass prison wall behind me
Fight – past walking through the ashes
A distant oasis before me

Cry – desperate crawling on my knees
Begging God to please stop the insanity
Help me – I’m trying to believe
Stop wallowing in my own self pity

“We’ve been waiting for you my friend
The writing’s been on the wall
All it takes is a little faith
You know you’re the same as us all”

Help me – I can’t break out this prison all alone
Save me – I’m drowning and I’m hopeless on my own
Heal me – I can’t restore my sanity alone

Enter the door
Desperate
Fighting no more
Help me restore
To my sanity
At this temple of hope

I need to learn
Teach me how
Sorrow to burn
Help me return
To humanity
I’ll be fearless and thorough
To enter this temple of hope

Believe
Transcend the pain
Living the life
Humility
Opened my eyes
This new odyssey
Of rigorous honesty

Serenity
I never knew
Soundness of mind
Helped me to find
Courage to change
All the things that I can

“We’ll help you perform this miracle
But you must set your past free
You dug the hole, but you can’t bury your sole
Open your mind and you’ll see”

Help me – I can’t break out this prison all alone
Save me – I’m drowning and I’m hopeless on my own
Heal me – I can’t restore my sanity alone

[III. REVELATION]

Way off in the distance I saw a door
I tried to open
I tried forcing with all of my will and still
The door wouldn’t open

Unable to trust in my faith
I turned and walked away
I looked around, felt a chill in the air
Took my will and turned it over

The glass prison which once held me is now gone
A long lost fortress
Armed only with liberty
And the key of my willingness

Fell down on my knees and prayed
“Thy will be done”
I turned around, saw a light shining through
The door was wide open


War Inside My Head

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” — Allen Ginsberg

Do you follow Ginsberg’s advice — in your writing and/or in your everyday life?

When I read this morning’s Daily Prompt, the VERY first thing that came into my head was the song “War Inside My Head” by Dream Theater. As anyone that knows me at all, Dream Theater and their music is a very big part of me, their lyrics can touch my soul more often than not, possibly because one of their members is in recovery and I can relate to his lyrics. But they are also classically trained musicians that just ROCK and have done so for more than 25 years, which would seem to be the meaning of them following their inner moonlight. They are also family men that treat their career just as it is, a career. They love what they do so they do it a lot. They don’t take breaks like many bands do, they write and perform music and in my opinion just keep getting better. Here is that song (along with a second song) performed live in Tokyo back in 2004.

The song is about someone that went through the horrors of Vietnam, so I cannot relate to that, but the war inside my head has been going on for quite a while. My problem was always that the war raged inside, but I hid it well. Always tried to maintain outer calmness even when my insides were getting torn up. That is no way to live. I guess that is part of the reason that I love writing. I can use some of that inner madness in the stories I make up, check out Green River Road   which I have been working on and need to get back to. It just keeps growing in my mind and is now a 9 part series with at least 4 more parts already thought out in my head.

Inner calmness is what I desire. It is what I need. It is what I work on every day now, I have to. I will.

So what exactly is my point? Hmm…..not sure to be honest. Let’s summarize

  1. Dream Theater is freaking awesome
  2. There is, and always will be a war raging inside my head
  3. There is a way to channel that madness positively
  4. Inner Calmness (aka Serenity) is my ultimate goal

There you have my Friday rambling. Hope y’all have a great day and an even better weekend

Love

Mark


No Pain, No Change

No pain, no gain? That is the question of the day, do I believe it?

I believe that when it comes to making a change in your life, then yes, there is going to be pain involved. More than likely the pain comes before the change more so than during or after, but why else would you be changing something? If something is working, why change?

Some of us had to feel a lot of pain before we could make any gains, had to hit a bottom of some sort before we realized that our way just wasn’t working. Had to feel complete defeat before we were willing to admit that we needed help, and were willing to accept it.

There is no need for everyone to have to hit rock bottom before they make a change, I understand that and am glad of it. But change has to come from within, changing because someone else wants you to, a partner, a boss, a friend, usually doesn’t work and can lead to resentments. Changing for yourself, not necessarily by yourself, but for yourself is important. We all know what changes we need to make in our lives, most of us look at the change and make the decision on whether to change based on how much pain it is causing us at that moment. If there is pain, there is a chance of change. More pain, more chance of change and more chance of gain. So based on this, I say yes that the phrase “No Pain, No Gain” is absolutely true.

Below are lyrics that I keep coming back to because they just apply so much to my life.

To really feel the joy in life
You must suffer through the pain
When you surrender to the light 
You can face the darkest days

If you open up your eyes
And you put your trust in love
On those cold and endless nights 
You will never be alone

Passion glows within your heart
Like a furnace burning bright 
Until you struggle through the dark
You’ll never know that you’re alive

That’s all I got on change for now, hope everyone has a blessed day

Mark

 

promote my book


My Thoughts

I have been reading a lot and hearing many comments about Robin Williams over the past few days. It has put me through a range of emotions from sadness to anger, pity to condemnation, confusion to understanding.

I enjoyed watching Robin Williams perform, always have. Going back to when his character Mork from Ork showed up on Happy Days (remember?). He made me laugh, he made me cry, he made me think. My anger and condemnation is not directed at him, it is at the people making comments based on ignorance of depression and addiction. It is at people that at this time of sadness and grief for his family and true friends, who are making ignorant comments and, in my opinion, are verbally harassing his family. How could people be that cold and unfeeling?

Now everyone wants to know whether he had drugs in his system, it doesn’t matter. It really does not matter. He just couldn’t take it anymore. We put people on such pedestals that when they fall, because after all they are ONLY human, that we all feel like they let us down. Well, maybe we all let him down. Maybe if people stopped  the mentality of “Just get over it” or “Just deal with it” and made an effort to understand that he had a debilitating disease, two of them. Depression and Addiction, and the sole desire of these diseases is to want the person that has them dead. That is the sole objective of the disease.

Yes, I am taking this personally. I fight my own battle, millions of us do, but we have to do it anonymously because it is not “the norm”. But there is a solution if someone wants it bad enough. But these diseases trick us into thinking that we don’t want it bad enough, and I know most of you will never understand that and believe me, I am happy for you. But please do not condemn those that do have to struggle with these feelings.

I just read this paragraph on a blog called Between Fear and Love that, again in my opinion, really touches on how people with suicidal tendencies feel, I hope she will not be upset that I used it

My favorite priest once gave us an analogy. He said to us that someone once told him that people who are depressed with suicidal tendencies feel like they are standing in a burning building with flames all around and the flames are growing bigger and bigger, closer and closer. They can’t run through the fire, the flames will engulf them. They stand on the edge, waiting for the moment the flames die down, but sometimes the flames move so close that they cannot escape them any longer and the only way out is to jump. The jump isn’t designed to hurt anyone else or even themselves. The jump is designed to escape the fire that is all consuming. People jump from burning buildings. We instinctively search for an escape from the pain that we know has the potential to destroy our lives. Sometimes the pain is physical. Sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes it’s both.

Below are lyrics to a part of a song called “Illumination Theory” by Dream Theater that have always helped me to remember what I need to do to keep moving in the right direction.

To really feel the joy in life
You must suffer through the pain
When you surrender to the light 
You can face the darkest days

If you open up your eyes
And you put your trust in love
On those cold and endless nights 
You will never be alone

Passion glows within your heart
Like a furnace burning bright 
Until you struggle through the dark
You’ll never know that you’re alive


So Be It

Why do I like to write? Good question.

I feel energized when I write, I almost just wrote that it is a feeling that I can’t describe, but then that would make me a terrible writer and I would be wasting my time here, wouldn’t I?

My audience is not staring back at me when I write, no expectations on their faces or expressions of confusion, boredom or condemnation. I am alone, but in a good way. I know what it is like to feel alone and it is one of the worst feelings, I know what it feels like to feel alone in a stadium full of people. I know what it feels like to feel alone even knowing that people love and care about me.

When I am writing, I do not feel that way. I am physically alone, but I do not feel alone. The thoughts that create the words I write are running around in my head, just wanting to come out. I have a head full of them and sometimes this is one of the best ways I have found to get them to come out. I am not a babbling idiot when I write, or at least do not feel like one. I can write from the heart or from the mind and not worry about what people are thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of getting that little star at the top of the page telling me that someone likes what I wrote, I especially love getting comments from people (hint hint), but that is not why I write. I write for me. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but that is how I feel.

The question posed this morning was “you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?” My initial thought, believe it or not, was to be the author admired and studied by a select few. I think of music bands that have been together for 20+ years that have such a faithful following that they have been able to hold on to their ideals and continue to create wonderful music, even though they get zero radio play and are not all that well known to the general public. (I posted a song below as an example from my favorite band) They get it. It IS about the music. I would love to just be about the word.

But then my next thought is that being so popular to so many would sure make my bank account look a lot healthier, so it would be hard to pass that up as well, but is that a good reason to write? Some would say yes, some would say no.

OK, here is my offer. Let’s split the difference. Let me be an author who gives pleasure to, I don’t know, maybe half a million folks, but let me be able to write so that my work can be studied and admired by a select few for decades.

That seems more than fair to me…..

See Ya

As promised above, below is The Bigger Picture by Dream Theater, along with the lyrics below it in case you don’t want to listen, at least enjoy the poetry that is music lyrics

Long before the colors start to bleed
I can see the painting come alive
Clever like an angel in disguise
Moving in and out of reach

If the candle lights this crooked path
Like a lighthouse peering through the haze
I will find the river through the rain
And I’ll reach the water’s edge

[Chorus]
Shed your light on me
Be my eyes when I can’t see
Shed your light on me
Be my guide so I can see
The bigger picture

Like a moth burned by the fire
And driven to the flame
(Prophecies’ a blessing and a curse)
I must bare this cross alone
There’s no one else to blame
With each treasure found
Another shipwreck’s washed ashore
I am carried by the current
On a slow and steady course

[Chorus]
Shed your light on me
Be my eyes when I can’t see
Shed your light on me
Be my guide so I can see
The bigger picture

What If caught in a moment
I get lost and can’t find my way
What if all along I was wrong
In every turn, In every way

Would you talk me off the ledge
Or let me take the fall
Better to try and fail
Then to never try at all

You look but cannot see
Talk but never speak
You live but cannot breathe
See but don’t believe

Wounds that never heal
A heart that cannot feel
A dream that’s all too real
A stare as cold as steel

I’ve listened to the stories of resentment and disdain
I’ve looked into the empty eyes of anger, fear, and shame
I’ve taken blood from every stone
And traveled every road

When I see the distant lights illuminate the night
Then I will know I am home