Hello there! It’s been a while since I had the time to write a blog post, but now that I am officially graduated—and “funemployed”, at least for the moment—I thought I’d try to get back on the blog post bandwagon.
The lovely folks at talking about strawberries all of the time recently published a poem of mine called “artistic license” that starts with the line “3 am, wide awake.” To be honest, I don’t remember if the poem or this playlist came first, but I do know that the past couple months have been wonderful and difficult in turns. During the difficult parts, I’ve spent a fair amount of time up at 3 a.m., tossing and turning and waiting for the sun.
One of these nights, I put together a playlist to help me feel better, and it ended up being so useful to me that I thought I would share, in case it’s useful to you, too.
So, without further ado: the “3 am, wide awake” playlist. You can listen on Spotify, and read my commentary on some of the tracks below.
When I’m feeling stressed or worried, I’ve found that one of the most useful things I can do is sit by myself and take some time to breathe, deeply and deliberately. This song puts me in a place where I feel like I’m calm enough to just exhale.
Favourite lyrics: “I put too much weight and words and glances / I put too much weight on situations / I put too much on myself / thinking I don’t deserve what I’ve earned”
If I’ve ever recommended “feel better” music to you, there’s a pretty high chance I’ve mentioned this song. It’s been my go-to comfort song for years now—a warm hug on all my coldest nights.
There is a deep sense of loss in these lyrics, but also acceptance that maybe letting go is what’s best for everyone involved. I need “Open Hands” most on the days when I’m wallowing in sadness or bitterness and need to remind myself to let go.
Favourite lyrics: “now go on and drift away / the tide can hold you out / go quiet now, go sound, go safe / open hands are hard to hold onto anyway”
“Down Forever” is quiet, raw and honest. It doesn’t pull punches; it vocalizes the questions I ask myself while lying in the dark—is it wrong to feel sad when my life is so comfortable and privileged? What do I know about real pain? Do I even deserve the things I have if I can’t appreciate them?
It also tells the truth. The bridge cuts me straight through every time. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s going to be okay. You won’t lay down forever. You won’t.
Favourite lyrics: “but I’m a hard case to break in / I’m preaching day out and day in / most of the time, I don’t even find / the words that I keep saying / and that’s okay”
This song was written at the height of the U.S. border crisis this past summer, when migrant children were being forcibly separated from their parents by the American government and held for months in government facilities.
“A Safe Place to Land” is a tribute to migrants and refugees who are fleeing unimaginable horrors, and also a call to action. It reminds me that there are people around me who love me, who will reach out to me when I am sinking. It reminds me that I have a responsibility to do the same for others, whether here or across the world, in whatever ways I can.
Favourite lyrics: “be the hand of a hopeful stranger / little scared but you’re strong enough / be the light in the dark of this danger / ‘til the sun comes up”
The nice thing about 3 a.m. is that morning is only a few hours away. This song reminds me that the sun is coming, both literally and figuratively, any second now.
Favourite lyrics: “all of the time you thought you got close / how hard it is to love those old ghosts / you get the least but you gave up the most”
No matter what is keeping you up at night these days, I truly believe that everything will be okay eventually. And while it isn’t, I hope this music keeps you company in the early morning hours.