In my room back home, I have an old black CD and cassette player. Around the age of fourteen, I went through a stage where I would go up into the attic and dig through the boxes of CD’s that my parents had collected over the years. I’d go through and pull out anything that I thought looked interesting. I can still remember sitting in the hot attic digging through those boxes. Anúna, Sarah Brightman, and George Winston were just a few of the artists I would play repeatedly. One of my favorite CD’s though, was Sarah McLachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.
Music has always been an integral part of my life. It’s a love that’s been imbued into me throughout my childhood and teenage life, mostly from the influence of my dad. My dad loves music. He shared his love of music with my siblings and me, and has made music one of the key elements of our family. Back in 2005, he bought my mum an iPod and speaker for Christmas, and since then we’ve always had music playing in our house. My brother and sister have acquired his talents as well, playing guitar and piano respectively, and as much as I wish I had their talents and desire to create and replicate, I’ve come to accept that my passion is more focused on appreciation.
On my quest through the attic for music, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy caught my attention. I’d heard two of the songs off the album, as they were on the family iPod, put there by my dad when he created the original playlists back in 2005. He’d spent hours pulling songs from his massive CD collection, picking and choosing those he thought the best. Two songs, “Wait” and “Elsewhere,” had made the cut, the rest of the album destined to wait in the attic until I stumbled upon it seven years later. Those two songs were enough to pique my interest and make me choose Fumbling Towards Ecstasy from the 200 or so other CD’s packed into cardboard boxes.
No teenager can escape the so aptly titled “emo phase,” but I think mine could be described as unique, especially for the day and age. I’m forever indebted to my parents for holding out and not getting me my first iPod Touch until the age of 15, staving off the possibility of any lasting embarrassment by way of social media. Even though I wasn’t making angst-ridden Facebook posts, there are quite a few cringey journal entries stuffed in the drawer next to my bed, and of course, I had my music. There was no My Chemical Romance or Green Day, those came later, and briefly, but I had Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is album full of longing and loneliness. Listen as the wind blows, from across the great divide. The title track, “Possession,” speaks to someone the singer wishes she was with, but can’t be. “Plenty” speaks of a past love. “Elsewhere” aches of solitude and the juxtaposition of enjoying it but longing for company. This is heaven to no one else but me, and I’ll defend it as long as I can be left here to linger in silence. To fourteen-year-old me, full of emotions I was trying process, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy seemed to echo these emotions. I wanted to figure them out; I hoped that by listening to this music that seemed to express what I was feeling, I could make sense of this confusing time in my life. What was I doing with my life? Would I ever find someone who will love me? I spent many late nights listening to McLachlan’s haunting voice and pondering these questions.
While much of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is darker and more melancholy, it is not without hope. “Hold On” was, and still is, a song that can help me through my tough days. We’re told to hold on, because this is gonna hurt like hell. McLachlan sings that we will have hard days, but we can get through them. And you’ll be strong tomorrow when we’ll see another day and we will praise it. These lines, back in 2012, twenty years after they were written, are just as poignant and striking to me now. In some ways, I don’t think I’ve outgrown that awkwardness of my early teens. I still don’t really know what I’m going to do with my life. I haven’t found that love that I ached for, and sometimes still ache for, at one in morning, but that’s okay. I’m still young. I have years ahead of me in my life. I think the last track in the album which shares its name, voices my feelings well.
All the fear has left me now
I’m not frightened anymore
It’s my heart that pounds beneath my flesh
it’s my mouth that pushes out this breath
And if I shed a tear I won’t cage it
I won’t fear love
And if I feel a rage I won’t deny it
I won’t fear love