An Ode to Sara Bareilles's Orpheus
Choosing to not give up on love
Before I started Khan Academy’s SQL course, I studied music. I was a year away from graduating with a jazz studies trombone performance degree. I dove deep into music for 10 years of my life and don’t find much fulfillment from playing an instrument anymore. But I still feel a strong connection to music and enjoy listening to it. Sometimes I listen with my whole heart.
This newsletter is called "Music and Tech", yet there hasn’t been much music recently. So I’d like to share lessons learned from this beautiful song.
You can listen to the song while you read
If you want.
I have a lot of fear posting this much personal trauma online. It feels self-indulgent but I hope there is a greater purpose.
I’ve spent prolonged time with suffering since I was born. I was born in El Salvador, nearly died as a newborn. I had dysentery and heaven knows what else. And symptoms like boils. People would tell my mom, “Your child will die.”
I was separated/kidnapped from my mother at 18 months old, on our way to the United States. My mother was 5 months pregnant at the time. My first memories were of crushing cans for a little extra recycling money for the family. When I was a child, my dad physically abused me. It feels weird to say publicly. I struggle with PTSD from having endured beatings that left painful bruises on my body and soul for 15 years.
When I was 19, I met an 18 year old. We fell in love. We married. And 4 years later, we divorced. I will keep these details private but this splitting apart has caused me a great deal of suffering in 2019.
And yet. We can’t acknowledge it.
As a first generation tech worker. I am making more money than any of my graduate peers. Not to even mention how much more money I make than my parents. I work from home, meaning I can walk my dog whenever I want and eat whenever I want.
So, when I start to enter a downward spiral. Let’s say, hypothetically, I start grieving suffering and shaming myself for being a human. It is then hard for me to contain two thoughts at the same time:
I am hurting.
My life is great.
So Many of us Need Rest
I’m talking about women, non-binary folks, Black, Indigenous, first-gen folks, poor folks, Central Americans, the downtrodden, etc.
So many of us in tech have lived these invisible lives of resiliency and we must grapple with it, all while tech/corporate culture has a toxic positiveness. Not only that, but many times, our parents have lived even harsher lives or are not able to understand. If we can’t find a place to be ourselves and acknowledge our wounds at our workplace, or with family, then that leaves therapy or perhaps healthy interrelationships. I want to create more of those spaces.
This newsletter is a space in which it is OK to lay down your head and cry.
Come by the fire, lay down your head
My love, I see you're growing tired
So set the bad day by the bed
And rest a while, your eyes can close
It Comes Down to Self-Compassion
I guess it’s my way of trying to spread hope. I’ve realized that we have to choose love over and over again, and at the end of the day we have to look back and say, ‘I didn’t give up today.’ That isn’t always easy.
- Sara Bareilles, Apple Music
Wounds from suffering are life-altering. They are important to acknowledge, because as Sara also says, “you’re not crazy for feeling crazy”. It is OK to suffer even as things are looking up in your life. It’s OK to look back and cry about what happened to you. And if you do that, you have chosen to love yourself.
And we’ll say, we did not give up on love today.