Normally my go-to soothing music is of the folksy, acoustic guitar variety, but lately I can’t seem to get enough of dreamy, synth-laden slow-burners—the kind with soft, beguiling vocals, and the kind that has layers and layers of sound, each one cushioning the next. I love the kind of song that requires several listens before pulling out a meaning.
“Flare Gun” by In Tall Buildings is such a song. In fact, the whole album, “Driver,” fits into this category. Six of the ten songs are longer than four minutes, and two of the ten are solely instrumental tracks. It’s an album that invites you to put your headphones on and sink way down into it.
There’s one line from in particular from “Flare Gun” that sticks out to me each time I listen. “It’s not a crime to reach for your flare gun.” I’m taking “flare gun” to be a metaphor for help, or at least signaling for help. It brings me to a question I’ve long asked myself—what is it about asking for help that makes us so uncomfortable? Why do we persist in believing that aloneness equals strength?
I read a short article from Darling Magazine called “What Are You Afraid Of?” a few weeks ago that talks about how much fear we carry around with us and how this fear prevents us from accomplishing things well within our range of capabilities. Fear and the power of fear has been on my mind ever since. I’m constantly looking at myself and wondering, “What am I afraid of? Why am I not going for this?” I think in the instance of “Flare Gun,” I very much connect with the fear of asking for help. Lately, my biggest instance of this has been with my novel writing. I just can’t get myself to sit down and do it. Sometimes, nothing is harder than writing an email to my critique partners that simply says, “Help. I’m stuck.”
Later in the song, we hear the lyrics, “It’s really no bother. It’s really no bother.” This repetition rings out with reassurance, encouragement, and insistence. Most of the time, when I ask for help, that’s the response I get. But I still feel ashamed for the asking. I think to myself “She’s so busy” or “She’s going through her own issues right now” or “I don’t want to make her feel obligated.” These are the types of things I repeat to myself over and over until I convince myself to stay quiet. On the other hand, when my writing buddies send me questions or come to me with their doubts, I feel honored and trusted. I love helping them solve problems.
I think what this means is that I need to listen to “Flare Gun” a few more times and then open up my email—I have some writing to do.
Finally, what sort of fear do you struggle with regularly? Is there a time you were dreading asking for help but then it turned out great? I’d love to hear more from y’all on this topic!