Sir Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” was probably the cheesiest 80’s pop song that wasn’t George Michael’s. Though my love for Sir Elton John runs so deep (a fact most people in my life know) this particular song was an always immediate skip in the playlist. As a listener, I couldn’t possibly start with emotional “Daniel” about a Vietnam War veteran, or my go-to karaoke jam “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and transition to an upbeat, nonsensical “I’m Still Standing” and it’s ridiculous diss: “And if our love was a circus, you’d be a clown right now.”
Quite literally “I’m Still Standing” stood out as something trivial and silly. I’ll be the first to admit it’s because as much as I constantly try to fight it, I am an innately snooty music snob. This song wasn’t “deep” at the first listen, or even the first 30 listens, so it was out. Until recently if a person were to come up to me and mention they loved Elton John only to reference “I’m Still Standing” as their favorite, I’d probably internally scream, “Sure, Jan.”
Listen to this without telling me it’s cheesy.
It wasn’t until I learned a lesson about resilience that I really understood “I’m Still Standing.” It’ll never be “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” But it isn’t trivial, and my many years of disdain for it were misinformed. I had to learn that there’s so much power in just saying, “Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?” That seemed to be a major theme of 2017 for me. I’m still here. Despite everything.
For the same reason, I personally clung to P!nk’s latest album, Beautiful Trauma. Specifically the blatantly named track, “I Am Here” and it’s’ line, “I can make anywhere home.”
A year ago I wouldn’t have imagined where I would be now. I’m sure many feel the same about 2017 both politically and not. I have many new faces in my life. That’s a weird way to put that, but I’ve got a lot of new company. I’ve strengthened older friendships, too. I went from someone who had a lot of acquaintances they never hung out with to a person who cackles with them over drinks. I didn’t know that I’d live in my favorite neighborhood in Boston. Mostly, I didn’t, and still don’t really know, how to manage that mental health thing people talk about.
I also don’t have to disclose much about that. I constantly remind myself I don’t have to share that. I don’t owe anyone anything, in that regard. Brevity is a virtue.
Recently, I was talking post-grad plans with my dad, about where I may take a job. He said maybe jokingly, maybe seriously, “You couldn’t even survive living alone in LA!” I shot right back, amused, “I’m still here, aren’t I?”
That’s the thing. I’ve survived 3,000 miles away from everything I knew. I’ve survived heartbreak. I’ve survived loss. I’ve survived every single day that I’ve ever doubted myself. Nothing and no one can take that away from me.
A week or so goes by, and I’ve left what was supposed to be a normal doctor’s appointment worried. I was laying on my bed, pondering and listening to Elton John’s latest album, “Diamonds” staring at the ceiling, as one does. Teary-eyed, I heard the stupid beginning to my least favorite masterpiece. I reached for the skip button, almost laughing, “Dear god, not this stupid song, not now” but I stopped myself.
It took a mixture of crying and laughing for me to understand this silly song. I guess I’m just trying to say that I’m still standing, better than I ever did.