I want to offer a bit of a disclaimer with this post, because the title makes it look like this is going to be a super negative and depressing post. Quite the contrary, it is going to be a post that is truly inspirational. So please, read this post for what it is truly meant to represent… determination, hope, perseverance, survival.
I am a musician by nature, and most of my internal strength I draw comes from every note that I sing, every tune that I hear, every beat that I feel. I listen to most kinds of music depending on the kind of mood I am in, or the mood I need to be put in.
When it comes to inspirational songs, many find strength through church hymns, and there are plenty. Contemporary songs have such inspirational lyrics by the likes of Josh Groban, Bette Middler, and the late Whitney Houston. But for me, no song sums up my life, no song lifts me up higher, than a song that never really got any kind of airplay, and was pretty much hidden in the Karate Kid 2 soundtrack. But being a true fan of music, I listen to a lot of music that does not make mainstream radio.
I came across this song ironically, during the days when I was diagnosed with cancer. But nearly 25 years later, I still find myself facing struggle after struggle, never giving up. And while I do have loved ones close to me who stand by me, and friends who support me, ultimately, it still falls upon me, to get through my trials. It is a beautiful and powerful song written and recorded by the late Jimi Jamison of Survivor, and recorded by the band of the same name. It is called “A Man Against The World.” You can listen to the song, and view the powerful video at this link:
The music is beautiful. The words… well… read on, and you be the judge if it sums me up and you will see, why I will never give up. It is not in me.
“A Man Against The World”
“Have you ever walked alone at night like a man against the world. No one takes your side, a boat against the tide.”
A small child, I was an easy target of bullies. Not just one-on-one, but more often than not, gangs of bullies. People who I thought were friends, stood by and only watched the daily beatings I took. My days in school were not spent learning, but studying how to evade those waiting in ambush for me on school property, and beyond, on my way home. No father around to teach me to defend myself. My family telling me to turn the other cheek or worse, calling the school to report the incidents which I soon learned to no longer speak of them. And of course, school officials telling me to “start standing up for myself.”
“When your faith is shaken you start to break, and you heart can’t find the words, tossed upon the sand I give you a man against the world.”
The first Edelman to graduate from high school, I enrolled in a local college. While studying, I held a full time job and a part time job. A management opportunity was offered to me, leading to me withdrawing from college with less than a semester to go. But it was a career move that was expected to set me up for life. It did not.
“All the people cheer ’til the end is near and the hero takes a fall. Then they’ll drag you through the mud, you’re only flesh and blood.”
I would now officially begin my life simply surviving working in the “working world” with college no longer a consideration. But my work skills instead of being seen as a benefit by my employers, were seen as threats by my co-workers. There were never intentions of replacing anyone’s position by me, but my work ethics were always seen as “getting in their way” or “showing them up.” My reputation became more about my “inability to get along with others.”
“I have walked the path from dark to light and they’ve yet to come to terms. Alone I take my stand, I’m only a man against the world.”
And just when I finally seem to get my world to be what everyone else wants it to be, and all should be good and perfect, I am diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, cancer.
“And love, like a distant reminder it tugs at my shoulder, it calls me home. I shout, can a single voice carry, will I find sanctuary within your arms?”
Following a failed marriage, based on false hopes of a family, I move on to another relationship. Get married. Adopt two beautiful girls. Again, life going great, and another major health issue strikes. Only now it appears far worse news, because it became apparent that the treatments used to save my life, now almost resulted in costing me my life, and from that point on, would discover many other health challenges that I would face.
“Someday when the answer’s clearer, someday when I even the score. You’ll reach and you’ll find me near you, right beside you, forevermore.”
I would much rather forget the last twelve months. Having filed for my second divorce. Having to put my best fur friend Pollo to sleep, after his fourteen years of a healthy and fun life, left him unable to see, hear, and smell, most importantly the loss of his never-ending wagging tail. The loss of a close friend from the same cancer that I had, coincidently at the same age as I was when I dealt with it. The loss of my father after battling lung cancer as defiantly as he possibly could. The loss of my job after 17 years due to corporate downsizing and complications of my health. And because of the violent reactions of certain family members through my marriage, I relocated a great distance away from my daughters, just so that they would not be a witness to the aggression and harassment from those family members towards their father.
“But for now I’ll walk the night alone like a man against the world. A brand new day will shine through the avalanche of time.”
Now in the process of my second divorce, facing all kinds of consequences as a result of domestic court, still searching for employment, and most importantly, anticipating the next time I will ever see my daughters if these situations are not resolved, I am still fighting. I am not giving up.
“Now the road’s grown long, but the spirit’s strong, and the fire within still burns. Alone I take my stand, I give you a man against the world.”
I have the strongest support of my friends both far and near, in physical presence or on-line. I have the love of my family, and my daughters to give me strength. And I have the love of one of the strongest women I will ever know to keep pushing me forward, looking forward to the day that this will all be behind me.
I am typing this, because I truly believe that day will finally come. If I did not believe that, I would have given up a long time ago. Some may see me as an “angry” person. Though really, could you blame me given everything I have been through (there is actually a lot more than I have written, but what I did write is bad enough by itself)? But I have never given up. I fight not because I like to, but because I have to. When I have finally dealt with everything, and corrected everything, and the way that does not sacrifice who I am, those who have stood by me, and most importantly, my daughters will know that I stood tall and survived.
I give you, a man against the world.