Hell is Behind Me

Sometimes, we make choices which cost us dearly. Sometimes, we get caught, and we must face the music. Sometimes this can be humiliating. Sometimes this can be painful. Sometimes this can cost us our integrity. Sometimes, people will never forgive us for what we’ve done.

Just ask Ed Sheeran. He had to face the music, literally. Today, a $20 million lawsuit was settled between Ed Sheeran and the people who wrote the song “Amazing,” performed by X-Factor winner Matt Cardle. The suit alleged that Sheeran stole the chorus, note-for-note, of Cardle’s song “Amazing” and used it in his hit song, “Photograph.”

Check it out…

Yeah, that’s pretty humiliating for Ed Sheeran. He clearly lifted those notes. But as I was reading the article about it, it occurred to me that I had “Photograph” on my iTunes, but had never heard “Amazing.” And after downloading it, I have come to the conclusion that “Amazing is an exponentially better song than “Photograph,” and I really liked “Photograph.”

Sometimes, our original ideas, preferences, and priorities can change — just like that.

I love music; but being a writer, I love lyrics even more. And nothing beats that moment when an odd (yet fortuitous) combination of lyrics and quotes just seems to speak to us.

Case in point: I’m currently binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. And in a monologue about wanting to change his life, the character Alex Karev said something so profound I had to pause it and hear it again:

“Hell is behind me. It’s in my rearview mirror. I’m not going back.”

And then, I downloaded “Amazing,” and a line from that song gripped me as well:

“The stairway to Heaven always starts in Hell.”

Moving forward, away from the Hell of the past, is often difficult for me. I sometimes dwell in the guilt of all the pain I’ve caused; but moving forward, having completed the book, I’m looking (perhaps genuinely for the first time) into the future with cautious and excited optimism. I’ve already been asked to give a speech about the issue of unlawful teacher-student relationships, and I feel like there is a considerable amount of potential for me to do some good in the world.

I can’t go back to the life I had. I won’t. It’s simply not an option. But in a way, the life I left behind is the life which led to this — to living my dream, as a writer. So Hell is, in fact, behind me. And I am certainly not going back. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been to Hell. I’ve felt Hell, even if it was a Hell of my own creation. But my Stairway to Heaven started there, and there’s something oddly encouraging about knowing life has nowhere to go but up.

It’s kind of “Amazing.”