Sometimes Almost Heaven
Years before I wrote Sometimes Almost Heaven, I had become a huge fan of the existentialist, philosopher and novelist, Albert Camus after reading his 2 classics, The Outsider & The Plague.
I went on to read a fascinating essay by him called The Myth of Sisyphus.
In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: “No. It requires revolt.” He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, “The struggle itself is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
I always thought that the only moment Sisyphus could only ever really be happy was, at the point he reached the summit, in the moment just before the boulder ran downhill again.
It sounds rather bleak but, if you stretch that story over a lifetime, all it means is that we may struggle for long periods but there will be times when we are genuinely happy.
Personally I was struggling at the time with coming to terms with embedded beliefs that no longer made any sense to me.
The best scenario I could imagine was we could, at the very least, hope to be happy some of the time but that happiness was really only almost true bliss or ecstasy. Or heavenly. These moments were rare and hard to find.
So I embarked on this song, Sometimes Almost Heaven.
First I put the circumstances needed:
Now all things will come to collision
To die and to begin again
To swell with the void from the inside out
To travel home but until then
It’s only sometimes almost heaven
Almost sometimes divine
Deliberately switching, for effect, the sometimes and the almost on the repeat of the chorus line.
Next up was the thought that maybe from the moment we enter the world, the struggle for happiness slowly begins. Inside the womb (or white room as I refer it to,) we are simply at peace.
Notice how the added line at the end of this chorus changes the meaning of the sentence. The comma after sometimes turns into into a statement: Sometimes, almost heaven is never enough. There are times when the simple everyday happiness we that gives us solace and relief, is simply not enough. There must be more. There must be a sense of being that is greater and more liberating than this.
Now naked we’re pushed from the white room
And death’ s great seduction begins
And the tingle and hum of existence
Lies ahead and behind but in between
It’s only sometimes, almost heaven
Almost sometimes divine
Sometimes, almost heaven is never enough
For the breakaway section I thought I would list all the things we try, or at least I did, to fill that void only to be disappointed.
The political let me down
The physical let me down
The metaphysical let me down
In the final verse I wanted to assert the hope that I feel. That there is something bigger and more soulful that we are just so close to. It’s love and it’s absolute.
But I couldn’t get away from the fact that sometimes our past is what stops us moving towards this sense of oneness and fulfillment. Could it be things that we’ve done in our past that we haven’t forgiven ourselves for? That we haven’t let go and moved on from?
Now I’m aware of an absolute that loves me
Loves itself and wants love in return
I’m aware of the fires of redemption
But too of a sin that just won’t burn
Again a few additions to the list of things we may have thought would help get us there, but they too fell short.
The critical let me down
The literal let me down
The mystical let me down
As I mentioned in the first post in this series, I wanted as many songs as possible to end with a kind of monkish chant. A repeated phrase or two. Only this time, to make it different and not add any more to the solemness of the song, I had female voices sing the refrain:
With my ad-libs, I hoped to remind the listener that this feeling of never enough was natural, and only got to us sometimes. We may feel at times that we need to have more but that’s ok, it’s alright. We can still find that peace and reconciliation that we long for.
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