Under Pressure

So a lot of people are writing about David Bowie today. He is a legend, an amazing artist, and a great inspiration to many people. At first I was not going to write, not at all, let alone about David Bowie. I figured whatever needed to be said was going to be said and I didn’t want to bandwagon on something like that. Then I changed my mind.

Music is a huge part of my life. There is very little time in my life when music isn’t happening. Whether I am listening to music or creating it, there is probably only a hour or two a day when music isn’t being played or imagined during my day.

Music has played a big part of my recovery. When I was eyes deep in the junk and living in shadows music understood me when no one else did. There were bands like Staind or 3 doors down that wrote what I was feeling and when there was no other place to turn, I clung to those songs and they got me through some rough stuff. On the other hand, those same songs fueled my insanity when I needed to be ready to step forward and couldn’t. Thankfully I can listen and look back and be thankful for these artists that literally kept me alive for a number of years.

Then there was one song. I had always liked it, passively. It never spoke to me in any particular way other than it was sung by two amazing artists. I heard it a few years ago for the billionth time, but for the first time. The song is Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie. As I was coming into a state of recovery and finding my spiritual voice. Under Pressure was a big part of that awakening. I listened to that song many times today. I really got emotional about it.

The way the song is arranged is amazing. Bowie’s main lines speak to me of the struggle that so many of us go through, what I have and continue to go through. “It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about. Watching some good friends screaming, let me out.” That is such a relatable vocal. My therapist has said that part of what made my journey so difficult was the awareness and empathy that I have. That is the terror of knowing. When you can feel other people’s emotional state. When you understand and empathize with so much, it can actually feel like physical pain. There are movies and shows I can’t match because they make me ill. That lyric just speaks to me about how you can feel too much.

Then there is the end of the song. Freddy Mercury asks us, “Why can’t we give love one more chance?” and David Bowie responds with what I feel is the defining element of the song, “Cause loves such an old fashioned word And love dares you to care for The people on the edge of the night. And love dares you to change our way of Caring about ourselves. This is our last dance, This is our last dance
This is ourselves, Under pressure.”

This more than any other minister, parable, lecture or sermon, helped define my mindset for how I want to live my life. Love is a challenge. Love is unconditional. Love dares you to love the fringe and the unlovable. Love dares you to love yourself, when you don’t feel very lovable. Love is our last chance to be the people we are capable of. When the world is shrinking and filling with hate speech and violence, when we are turning our backs on those in need because they look different than me, that is pressure. The relief valve is love.

The answer to everything is love. But that answer is a challenge. The answer is love but it comes with a price. You have to change. You have to be the person you wish you were. Love dares you to be the person you want to be. Are we capable of loving those on the edge of the night? The outcast? Those that may be deemed unlovable? Can we look in the mirror and say “I love you” and mean it? Can we look at the angry driver with fresh eyes and say those words? Can we look at the person who has a different background at mean it? Can we, can I, just love? No judgment, no conditions, no price tags, just love?

Now more than ever, this is our last dance. We are under pressure. Can we give love one more chance?


Rev J




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