Have you ever heard a song and thought it had been playing in your head for the last two months without even registering as anything more than the melodic jumbles of your scattered mind? That’s how I felt when I first heard “Crash This Train” by Joshua James.
I first heard it on another unbelievably depressing episode of Sons of Anarchy, called “Sweet & Vaded,” where Tara fakes a miscarriage and more shitty stuff happens than I care to recount. We were in a deep, deep SOA hole, me more so than him because I listened to SOA music all day at work; I am a female with eyes, so, you know, Jax Teller, and I wasn’t sleeping.
I’ve had bouts of insomnia before. Sometimes I would go five months without two nights of adequate rest in a row without the aid of medication. But this time was different. I was tired but I also had to hide my insomnia. I knew if anyone found out how bad it really was, I would have to see a specialist. And that couldn’t happen.
So I’d lie awake: counting cat hairs on the duvet; spelling out the colours I’d see when I forced my eyes to shut and wondering how many years would pass while I laid in bed still as a statue, waiting for the world to contact me again.
When you can’t sleep, you think. You think a lot about weird irrational things that don’t make much sense when you are getting your full 8-hours again, but seem life and death while fighting the cavalry of sleeplessness. I couldn’t watch TV or clean or cook because I didn’t want to wake him and have him worry. So I began slipping out to drive.
I wasn’t particularly depressed. I was bored, melancholy, listless and unmotivated by the expanse of life that laid ahead. How many minutes would turn to hours to days to years just driving around my hometown with the heat cranked pleading with my mind and body to sync up and understand that night-time was for sleeping. I’d imagine that I kept driving and never went back home. I’d imagine I was pregnant. I’d imagine driving right into the ocean.
I hope you find what you’re looking for
when it all comes runnin’ down
I hope you find it painted black on your window,
or the lips of your lover’s frown.
When I heard this song, I felt like it had been in my head during all those long drives. What can you do when you see your future and you know that you can’t get out of it? How can you change something that’s so much bigger than you? All you can do is pray for a Hail Mary jolt that will shift the Earth off its axis and turn your world off kilter enough to lead you to some change that could make a difference.
So God if you can hear me crash this train
I said God if you can hear me crash this train.
How did I end up here? I don’t recognize myself anymore. I see a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a co-worker, but not me. Where did I go? How can I live another 40- 50 years when I can’t even comprehend whose eyes are staring back at me in the rearview mirror?
To the mothers and to the fathers
who’ve done the best they could.
Cuz raisin’ youngins in a messed up world,
it ain’t so understood.
So I’ll cover my ears, and my eyes,
pretend that love’s the same.
That was a long couple of months. I felt like a drone – no opinions, no emotions, no nostalgia for the past, no excitement for the future. All that was in front of me was an endless series of tasks with no horizon.
Now a note to the President, and the Government,
and the Judges of this place.
We’re still waitin’ for you to bring our troops home,
clean up that mess you made.
There was no magic anecdote that cured my insomnia. We went on vacation. I lost my job so I slept whenever my mind wanted me to. I took some new medication. I started exercising. Bit by bit the clouds and inertia dissipated. But whenever this songs comes up on my iTunes, I’m transported back to those long, lonely nights that I thought would never end. Those feelings of helplessness, apathy, guilt and remorse come flooding back and I’m right there again driving down that winding, dark road staring out at the inviting cold expanse of the ocean. And then the song ends.
DISCLAIMER: I know this song is about the government lied to get support for the Iraqi War and all these soldiers that died for a war based on untruths which is very, very sad and tragic. But for me, this song makes me think of being sleep deprived and the sad, crazy rabbit hole you can fall into when you can’t function properly.