In the cold desert while they napped.

Jesus never loved me 
No one ever carried my load.

I was around eight; we lived in a small Oregon coastal town.

Two younger siblings. How young?
Young enough that they were forced to take daily naps.

We lived on a hill.

It was an afternoon, a summer.
Nap for them.

I stepped outside.

Heat heat hot.
I looked around.
No breeze.
Sun slamming down.

A few houses down the road, trees, distant noise from the town's pumping downtown.

But quiet up here.

Just sun. And me.

At forty-one, I have carried that feeling around with me since; that feeling of solitude and loneliness, popping up intermittently but with regularity.

No one hurt me.
Nothing bad happened.
I wondered around, looked around, listened, desolate, and the sun kept coming.

The world felt still, and quiet, and far away.

I grew up in a world of books, forests, oceans, and more than that, family and love.

And yet I felt so alone in those moments.

A house away, my siblings slept.
Hot dirty road, flowers drooping,

I gazed around three hundred sixty degrees. The ocean a short distance away, but not visible. Thanks, development.





I love them all, but summer is the outlier for me,
which is similar to me,

because I have always felt like an outlier in most communities.

Summer, a season I love, but grow weary of, and grow lonely with sometimes.

In certain situations.

It's not the heat, or the bright, or any other number of variables.

It's a specific combination of them.
Sun. Flat topography. Dry. Stillness. Quiet.

That feeling brought on by age seven, walking around.

It all comes up.

How can you be lonely when you're lucky enough to have


How can you feel desolate when you live in the lush and verdant Pacific Northwest,
trees, rain, green?

How can you feel alone when people are close by; physically, emotionally?

There are a lot of answers to that question, and I don't have good ones, not really.

I know that is a feeling I can conjure up easily,
and I understand how people can feel lonely,

and alone,

when it feels silly that they would or could feel that way.

It's why I ask

"are you okay?"

Instead of waiting for them to tell me

if they're not.

Because it seems ridiculous, petty, arrogant to feel certain emotions;

how can you complain about being hungry when kids are starving across the world and you've got a full fridge?

How can you feel alone when you've got a warm, caring, affectionate, supportive family, friends, community?

But I get it.

I do.

The feeling of being crushed and trying to take another step,
of feeling you're doing it alone.

You know it's not true.

It's not true.

It's ridiculous.

But it feels that way sometimes.

The aloneness of being surrounded by people.

The loneliness of being engulfed with community.

The desolation of a dusty street on a hot quiet afternoon.

The weariness of dragging your feet forward and wanting to sprint but being too tired anymore.

Kings of Leon, a decade ago, wrote

Cold Desert

Some of it goes:

Jesus never loved me / 
No one ever carried my load.

The Followill brothers, from what I understand, grew up Pentecostal.
That's Christian, I think.

Their religious background comes through in much of their music.

Biblical references, allusions to faith and the contradictory confusing nature of their lives and beliefs.

But to say:

Jesus never loved me

Followed by

no one ever carried my load


those are explosive lines for someone whose identity was wrapped up in God and family.

What does it mean?

I don't know.

I think he may have been super drunk when he drawled them out.

But I hear them as a question, a mournful, bottom-of-the-barrel cry that is pitiful, sad, desperate, lonely, and...

Does he mean these?

Does he make these statements with lucid sincerity?

Or are they the words of someone whose success is directly influenced by the two things he denies here;

his God's love and his family's support; the systems that propelled he and his two brothers who comprise the Kings to a huge level of success?

I don't know.

I was working until after midnight in my dungeon office, as I frequently do,

and I had Kings of Leon going, with no particular attention paid to this song, until finally it grabbed me,
and then I ran it ten times in a row.

It is so sad.

So mournful.

So full of loneliness.

Yet it also feels cathartic;

like the saving stroke of someone ripping away sadness and draining it for you.

A burden lifted.

Listening over and over, and over, and then again, and once more,

I found a contentment and peace as he mourned in his elegiac howl again and again...

...singing words that he may not have believed,

and may not be true,

but in that moment,

in that time,

in that desert,

they were.

In the hot desert,

the hot, flat, sun soaked, lonely, cold desert.

I feel that feeling and sometimes I wish it would never come back,

but then I wonder,

if I feel it,

if I still feel it sometimes,

can I take that feeling and make something beautiful
and maybe help drain the sadness from someone else?

That is


the beautiful collision that strikes us down and lifts us up.

To make something brutal and lovely, something sad that leaves us better.

That lets us own up to pain, sadness, depression, loneliness,

however fleeting,

and help release from their spell;

the martyr act of taking upon the sadness of the world in a song

of crying out what is felt, not what is necessarily true,

and finding comfort in a shared solemnity.

Hope in the cold desert, or as I prefer,

cold mountains.


Kings of Leon
Cold Desert
Only By the Night

link to song on YouTube