Say Hello 2 Heaven

Say Hello 2 Heaven

There’s a creeping bitterness that nips at my heels. I think I do a good job of keeping it at bay, but everyone knows the cliche of the bitter old person, and I can see how the gray get there. Not everyone can keep it at bay. They get disillusioned after being broken one too many times.

It’s hard to blame them for becoming cynical. There are only so many times you can die under your Dad’s car tire, grow up with a broken face, sink good years of your life into an abusive relationship, lose your father, your mother, your siblings, your children, your livelihood and legacy, and keep on trucking with clear eyes.

I guess it’s important to hit bottom at least once, for perspective, but the part that strikes me as really strange is that there’s nothing to do with all the heartbreak. It feels like there should be something, some outlet for it, and I think people get stuck—sometimes for their whole lives—trying to process their bad experiences, trying to find that outlet to get the hurt out of their bodies and spirits, trying to find the key that will make whatever happened acceptable so they can have permission to be happy again.

But there’s nothing there to find.

There’s no catharsis, there’s no movie ending where the bad guys get what’s coming, or the douchebag sees the errors of her ways. Life just rolls on, and you have to keep moving and just exist with whatever has happened, otherwise you stop living and growing, and burn out into one of those bitter, gray people.

Heaven & The Abyss

I was listening to that song that everyone loves “Say Hello 2 Heaven,” which is about a guy named Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose after battling with depression. One of the lines struck me:

“He hurt so bad, like his soul breaking
But he never said nothing to me”

And that’s what got me thinking about all this. I’ve been broken a few times, and come back mostly better and stronger, but I wonder where the line is between that bitterness nipping at your heels but being at bay, versus being broken and just not telling anyone in the hope that if you fake it long enough, you’ll make it.

I think my conclusion is to throw out the question. That is a question framed by inevitable bitterness, and the question is about what degree you let it affect you. But I reject that premise.

I’m saying that the advice I’d give to my younger self, is that you need to remain unattached to outcomes, and just learn to exist in a state of unconditional, childlike wonder. Horrors and atrocities and soul breaking tragedy will undoubtedly hit, and all you can do in the face of that titanic sadness is shine as brightly as you know how, as a reflection to others that there’s love and hope in the world, but also as a reflection to yourself.

Don’t fake it—I’ve wept until I couldn’t breathe, until my soul ground to a halt, until I had no light to give. If you’re there, be there. The worst thing you can do is exist in limbo, between gut-wrenching sadness and the veneer of normalcy. That limbo is where people get lost—they stumble through a fog of distractions, with that sadness at their heels forever, until the day they die.

I say plumb the depths of that darkness, and stare it in the face. There’s no movie ending, no catharsis. Just you and that abyss, looking back at you. When you can look into it and stop fighting against it existing, then it loses its power over you. It exists, you exist. That’s all.

You exist. Let that childlike wonder take over.

Now you can shine again, from a place so deep inside that tragedy cannot strike, so bright that darkness cannot exist.


  1. Laura Cowan ()

    I’m sorry things have been so tough for you lately, though I can say that in my life when things are really tough a breakthrough is near. I hope that’s true for you now. Not being wedded to outcomes really speaks to me today. Thanks. (Reply)

    • Pete ()

      Thanks for well wishes, Laura, I appreciate hearing from you. I was in a weird, contemplative mood when I wrote this, but actually, contemplative essays not withstanding, I’ve been doing really great. I live in a place I love, I’m in a great relationship, money is fine, my health is excellent (I’ve gained over 30lbs of good weight since I was stressed and skinny during the separation!). I really can’t complain.

      But moods and thoughts like the ones in this essay just demonstrate that happiness and contentment aren’t about the events that happen to you. Happiness is always a choice you make that comes from inside. (Reply)

  2. Susanne Partain ()

    It is eerie that your blogs come along when I really need them. And there always seems to an abyss out there to stare in the face and to conquer. Thank you for your brilliant advice. I value you and your thinking. Susanne (Reply)

  3. Jenny ()

    As usual, brother, we are in sync with our mental meanderings. I just finished a podcast that will go up this week pondering how we, as artists and humans, deal with pain and ugliness.

    Some people choose to ignore it while others like to wallow in it. Still others transform it into art, as you have done here in this post.

    Always good to see you! Thank you, Pete. (Reply)

    • Pete ()

      I think it’s a truism that the happiest people make other people happy. I can’t think of a better thing to do with bitterness than to turn it inside out and inspire other people to keep trucking. Stay beautiful 8) (Reply)

  4. Karilee ()

    Killer first paragraph, Pete. I think I see a book title in there.

    “…I wonder where the line is between that bitterness nipping at your heels but being at bay, versus being broken and just not telling anyone in the hope that if you fake it long enough, you’ll make it.”

    I think that line is about survival, just getting through one more day, one more hour STILL HERE. I agree about shining as brightly as you can, even if it’s a dim glimmer at times.

    Sometimes, however, I think there’s not enough left to “plumb the darkness” for a while. The key is to just keep on keeping on, even if there’s some faking it involved, until you’re ready to cope with that. It’s got to be done eventually, but even distractions and fog have their right purpose, for a time. (Reply)

    • Pete ()

      I can’t argue with that. I would only say that if you’re taking some time in the fog, to be fully aware and honest, at least with yourself, about being there. Don’t let it sneak up on you.

      Thanks Karilee, you always keep me on my toes 8) (Reply)

  5. Pingback: Life is a Sunset « Essays « Pete Michaud

  6. Dyamond ()

    Well isn’t this a treat :) hurray for new things to read! So I’ve been met with this message quite a bit over the past few weeks. I’ve been going through some heavy emotional stuff and apparently to bullshit isn’t ready to die down yet. But that’s totally cool. I’ve learned that meeting this stuff with resistance isn’t going to heal my heart any faster than just riding with the wave and meeting myself where I am, as I am. It’s also interesting the things that like to latch on and rise to the surface in times of vulnerability.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. Beautiful words as always.

    Love you. (Reply)

    • Pete ()

      You’re awesome Dyme, I love hearing from you. Keep on trucking, reach out if you need someone to chat with! Love you too 8) (Reply)