I can’t get the song “When You’re Falling” by Afro Celt Sound System out of my head right now. I’m sitting at MacDonald Beach by the Vancouver International Airport sitting on a log in Pirate’s Cove and the song has been on repeat the whole drive here. It feels like I won’t be able take it off repeat for quite some time. My dog is lying in the sand as I type this with my thumbs on my phone. At the moment he is calm, but I know it will turn to annoyance shortly. 

Here are the lyrics that are haunting me:

Everyday, you crawl into the night
A fallen angel, with your wings set alight
When you hit the ground
Everything turns to blue
I can’t get through the smoke
That’s surrounding you

‘Cause when you’re falling
I can’t tell which way is down
And when you’re screaming
Somehow I don’t hear a sound
And when you’re seeing things
Then your feet don’t touch the ground 
‘Cause when you’re falling 
I can’t tell which way is down

Lyrics driving my thought process doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I finished writing my novel in January. For the two years prior I had listened almost exclusively to Genesis. My book, while a fictional dystopian novel, is deeply personal and draws influence directly from my life and experiences. Genesis is a band that I credit with saving my life. I relied on them like a crutch many times. The fact that a song sung by Peter Gabriel has been on high rotation at the moment feels like wearing an old shoe.

It struck me while writing the previous paragraph that I’ve confounded even myself when I have tried to answer the regular question of “why did you write a dystopian novel”. To confuse things even more, I always chuckle and make the statement that my novel is an allegory to my life. That previous paragraph finally helped me understand why I’ve made that comparison, beyond some obvious story mechanisms. I feel as though my mind, if not life, is something of a dystopian world.

(Side note, Angus did, in fact, get annoyed and I’m sitting on my patio as I finish writing and editing this post)

So, why this song? Why now?

On the surface, it’s a bouncy, catchy tune. Joyful, even, on the surface. Not something driven by dark minded machinations.

This song sums up how I’ve felt for as long as I can remember. I feel as though I’ve been falling my whole life. Screaming, but not hearing a sound. Never able to tell which way is down. It’s exhausting. Sometimes extremely frightening. Definitely infuriating.

The part that haunts me the most is my interpretation that the song is from the perspective of someone watching the angel fall. They are observing this fall as it is occurring, and I feel as though the observer is declaring their helplessness in their witness. I would even take it a step further and say that the song is sung by the person falling who is watching themself fall. Warp your brain around that mind fuck and you might start to get a feel for where I’m at right now.

I’m going to put another layer of self reflection on this. I’m still untangling this spaghetti pile, so bear with me if I am rambling.

Someone recently told me the response I was having, after I told them I was wanting to escape my reality here in Vancouver and live in the jungle like a Paul Thoreaux novel, sounded like a PTSD response.

Even as I sit here rereading what I wrote, that thought is having a deeply profound effect on me. I’ve written about, given talks about, and found comfort in a diagnosis of ADHD when I was 40. It does make me wonder if what I’ve been experiencing has more to do with PTSD than ADHD. Maybe it’s both (yay me!). Either way, I do know it is now starting to feel like a disorder rather than simply “normal”. Much like the comfort I found in the ADHD diagnosis, knowing that the disorienting feeling of falling doesn’t have to continue to be my normal. Baby steps, right?

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