Edenland’s Fresh Horses post this week is a series of sentences starting with “Sorry”. If you go over to Eden’s post (and if you haven’t, you should, it’s compelling), you’ll see it’s nothing about apologies at all.
It’s about power.
As women, as humans, we’re stuck in an insidious spiral of apology. There’s nothing wrong with being humble (in fact, in the right hands there’s everything right with it). But there nothing right when our sorrys lose meaning, become twisted or become a disease.
Get your power back.
Here’s another story about finding your power. And it just happens to feature a a song called I’m Sorry.
When I first heard this song on a Saturday morning watching Video Hits back in 1989, I thought I’d found the next Irish musical hope. Just in case Bono got run over by a bus or U2 went bust or something. Always good have to have a contigency plan.
What I didn’t know is that my life would be changed from hearing it. Sure, it’s a seriously great song. And sure, I was captivated by the singer’s voice. But I had no idea back then that I’d be singing that very song on stage with him one day.
I feel like I’ve just outed myself. I haven’t told many people this story.
No, I’m not singer. It was just one of those things you do when you’re young and free.
I was 19. I was drifting. I’d just come back from travelling in Ireland. I was supposed to go to Uni, but I didn’t want to study. I was supposed to get a job, but I just wanted to write. I was supposed to conform, but I didn’t. In Ireland I’d seen Hothouse Flowers play ‘Live at the Olympia’. Back at that concert I’d seen some girls run up from the audience and sing on stage with the band. And the band embraced it. It felt so unbound and liberating.
When Hothouse Flowers arrived in Sydney in 91′ for their first Australian tour, they were virtual unknowns. So my friend and I decided to be their welcoming party. You know, because they were from Ireland and might have needed a warm hello. We didn’t feel like groupies, we were just enthusiastic about life and music. But I guess to others it seemed we were. We walked to the back of the Enmore Theatre before the concert and they talked to us. We talked for awhile. In which time we made a deal to we’d get their first Australian concert off to a rocking start with a stage visit from our good selves. They agreed. They said I’m Sorry was the song.
So there I was, 19 years old, belting out I’m Sorry in front of 2000 odd people at the Enmore Theatre. Like I was some almighty backing vocalist.
My friend abandoned me on the mic and decided to dance. My sisters and their friends were at the back of the hall. They had no warning. I’m not sure if they even realised it was me up there.
In that moment I found my voice. Not the singing one – because God knows that I barked into the microphone that night – but the other one. You know, the one in my gut. I left my hesitant and fearful self behind. I woke up the next morning and thought that I had the courage to do anything now. Anything.
That night I didn’t let social constraints hold me back. I didn’t let my timidity win. I didn’t let the social power imbalance of celebrity get in my way. I felt like I had carried out a personal revolution. Celebrities? They’re humans. There’s no walls. Just the ones the world creates. What did I have to offer Hothouse Flowers? Nothing, and everything! I was creative, I was passionate. I was alive.
That’s the best thing you can offer anyone.
After that night I lived every day with a newfound confidence. You couldn’t stop me! I followed my passions. Personal revolutions. All the time. No apologies.
I found my power.
The end of this story? Twenty one years later I’m still in touch with Liam, the singer of Hothouse Flowers. He’s never let celebrity affect him. We’ve met up a few times. We talk about everyday stuff, like parenting, politics, and our kids. He’s a busy musician, and I’m a busy mother, but we have being alive in common.
My power? I’m alive. I’m truly ALIVE.