I listened to a lot of Cat Stevens in the dark days of my last (and biggest) weight gain. His music calmed me, made me think, made me remember my childhood, and overall represented happiness, a rare commodity during that time.
In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, I was on my way up the scale like a soldier marching to war. There were a lot of things right with my life, but secretly – the stuff I hid from most of the world – things were way off. I was dealing (or rather, NOT dealing) with past grief and other issues that I just wanted to go away and not think about. But you know and I know that when you want things to just go away, they plant themselves stubbornly on our path and refuse to move until we deal with them. And I dealt with them alright, by eating too much and spending most of my nights glued to my computer playing computer games and listening to music. During the day I was Just Lynn – smiling, together, always attentive to everyone’s needs. But at night, I was Depressed Lynn, as in major, diagnosed depression. And I sat there and thought and drank and ate and played and listened to music and wished my life was different.
All this wishing eventually led to my decision to lose weight, but the process of getting there deserves the same, if not more, respect I give to my choice to change.
That’s what I mean when I say I was ready to listen to Cat Stevens. I was a little nervous about it, wondering how much pain it would bring back. But I was relieved when I felt mostly joy, the same thing his music has brought me for 35 years.
Most of Cat Stevens’ music has an association with my childhood. When I was in high school, I played flute in our church’s folk service band and one of the songs we played was “Morning Has Broken.” Still gives me chills. As we broke up, a few boyfriends tried to warn me about the dangers in the real world, thus my relationship to “Wild World.” With apologies to Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow, no one performs “The First Cut Is The Deepest” better than Cat. And god knows I grew up to be a “Hard Headed Woman.”
Listening to the song “I’ve Got A Thing About Seein’ My Grandson Grow Old” on those depressing nights, I used to think, “I’ve got to do something about my weight or I’ll never live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.” My kids were still in school and grandchildren were still years away, but it planted a very important seed in my numb, anti-depressant fogged mind. I had to lose weight or I was going to die. Probably not right away, but young.
Hearing that song again the other night put the exclamation point on my decision to lose weight this last time, especially with grandbaby #2 on the horizon. For me, losing weight saved my life, and not just in the physical sense. Cat Stevens, who is now Yusuf Islam, was a part of that thought process.
Deciding to lose weight every time before was a snap decision. It was never thought out. It was something I did because I was “feeling fat” or not good enough or I had a new boyfriend or some other stupid reason. This time I did it for me. For my children and grandchildren. You see, I’ve got a thing about seein’ my grandkids grow old…
I buy the nicest things
Yusuf Islam is making records again. I just downloaded his latest, “Roadsinger,” on iTunes. The songs have the same feel as “Peace Train” and “Morning Has Broken.” I wonder what kind of memories these songs will invoke in the years to come. I’m in a much healthier, happier place than I was ten years ago, so most likely they will remind me of these days. My blood’s still warm, my mind is (usually) together, and I’m hopin’ to stay in this world a little longer.