The other evening, as I sat listening to music and drinking a glass or two of wine, a song popped up in my playlist. It was “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley, from the album Natty Dread. I love that song, and have listened to it many times before; and yet, as I savoured the tasted of my Shiraz, one line suddenly jumped out at me.
“In this great future, you can’t forget your past.”
With the song still playing, I thought about the line – what its meaning was. Was it like the quote from Oscar Wilde – “No man is rich enough to buy back his past” – or was it more than that?
As I sat there, pondering and listening, I thought too about what my nanna used to tell me. She would touch my face and stroke my hair and say, “Remember, never look down on anyone unless you’re helping them up.” In that instant, the line suddenly made sense. It was a call, a call to remember where you came from, to never forget those parts of your life that weren’t great; because no matter how good you have it now, those past experiences are what made you who you are today. In one line, Bob Marley – to me at least – was saying to enjoy the present, live and love for today, but never forget how you got to where you are.
Perhaps it was the memory of my nanna, perhaps it was the musical epiphany, or perhaps I had simply had too much wine. Whatever it was, I felt overwhelming emotion and was compelled to put pen to paper (I still draft my work in longhand) and the words flowed. This is the result.
No matter how good you have it now,
Remember, there was a time
When all you had was a dream in your hand
And a hell of a mountain to climb.
The road was tough, but you travelled on,
Persevering day by day,
And along the road were other folks,
All going the same way.
So you talked, and laughed, and shared your dreams,
Some stayed, some fell behind.
But through it all you held your dream
In the forefront of your mind.
And now, you’ve reached the mountain top,
And all that elation you feel,
Is that overwhelming sense of pride
That your hard won dream is real.
But don’t get too high and mighty,
That you don’t treat folk the same.
Don’t forget the helping hands;
Don’t forget from whence you came.