Last night, I spent my time writing and listening to music. After publishing yesterday's post, I let iTunes play on while I cleaned and tried to process some thoughts.
The last song to play before I turned it off was Don't Get Me Wrong by The Pretenders. It is such a sweet song of a girl expressing a new-found infatuation and not wanting her behavior to be misinterpreted. "If I'm looking kind of dazzled ... If I'm acting so distracted ... If I split like light refracted ... If I come and go like fashion."
Songwriter Chrissie Hynde deftly penned lyrics that conveyed silly feelings of butterflies after meeting someone. She expressed the tension between wanting that person to know she was interested in them and realizing that her actions might communicate a differing intention. "I might be great tomorrow, but hopeless yesterday."
As I laid down for the night, I caught myself humming the song's melody. But that the tune did not last long. Soon, I started humming another song with a similar theme - one that is about 20 years older than Don't Get Me Wrong.
"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."
The Nina Simone song. Although, it was the version recorded by The Animals that I heard playing in my head. A song of someone not wanting their mistakes and flaws to not overshadow the real person inside.
And that led me to think of yet another song - one that has made its way into what I consider the soundtrack to my life. It was Pyro Sets a Wildfire by The Swirling Eddies. I have embraced its lyrics as a personal mantra: "If I played my role as diplomat, you'd know it wasn't just an act. I couldn't stand to stand in back a faded little wallflower."
The verses of Pyro Sets a Wildfire are filled with repeated lyrics "I never meant to ..."
I could hear myself repeating lines that I ask my kids much too frequently. "Got it?" or "Do you understand?" Then came words that I used when I was a corporate trainer several years ago: "Is everyone with me?"
These are the thoughts that kept me up far later than I should have been awake.
Don't get me wrong. Don't let me be misunderstood. I never meant that. Got it? Do you understand? Are you with me?
There is a pattern.
I want to be understood. Sometimes I will go to extreme lengths to get my point across - perhaps even to the point of over doing it. I fear being misinterpreted, misrepresented, or being taken out of context.
I am not typically a fearful man. I am not frightened by clowns, heights, public speaking, darkness, spiders, or enclosed spaces. I am not scared of monsters. I love scary movies. I do not fear ISIS, the NRA, the GOP, or North Korea. I am not worried that a lone gunman is going to take his vengeance out on my workplace or at a park while I am there with my kids.
But being misunderstood? That actually scares me.
Is this a writer's greatest fear? We spend so much time committing words and phrases to ink (or pixels) to express an idea or a story. We employ similes and metaphors. We bare our hearts to instruct, encourage, or entertain. Our energy is devoted to this passion of language, syntax, wordplay, and structure.
At the end of the day, the worst feeling I can imagine as a writer is for someone to read my work and hear them say, "I don't get it."