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The Madonna Timeline: Song #134 – ‘Inside Out’

mad inside out 02

{Note: The Madonna Timeline is an ongoing feature, where I put the iPod on shuffle, and write a little anecdote on whatever was going on in my life when that Madonna song was released and/or came to prominence in my mind.}

HOLD ME CLOSER, FULL DISCLOSURE

LET IT OUT, LET ME IN

ON YOUR KNEES, CONFESS TO ME

EVERY DOUBT, EVERY SIN

THAT’S HOW LOVE’S SUPPOSED TO BE

Every work day begins with the same ritual: the walk from the car to the office building. Whether I’m being dropped off or parking on site, there is always The Walk. Throughout a decade and a half of state office work, I’ve had a number of variations on this theme, but The Walk has remained constant. From a parking lot where my Subaru would bake in the hot sun, to a comparatively luxurious covered-garage where the path to my desk was entirely shielded from the outside weather, The Walk was different for every location, but its essence was the same. These days I’m lucky enough to be driven to the side of my office building, where I make a brief but important fifty foot trek to the door. It’s short, but a lot happens in that small distance.

I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE BROKEN DOWN

LET YOUR WALLS CRUMBLE TO THE GROUND

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

EVERY SCAR THAT YOU TRY TO HIDE

ALL THE DARK CORNERS OF YOUR MIND

SHOW ME YOURS AND I’LL SHOW YOU MINE

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

It is here where I truly “dress” for the day. No matter what extravagance I’ve draped over my body, no matter which coat and bag I’ve chosen as armor, I’m not completely dressed until The Walk. You see, or you don’t see in this case, the most important thing a person can wear is not on the outside. It’s how you carry yourself. Do you believe enough in who you are to wear whatever you want? Or do you falter and waver, relying on a power suit or black dress to instill the confidence you lack? To me it depends on the day. Sometimes I am that strong, sometimes I’m not. No matter which it might be, I take a moment on The Walk to prepare myself for whatever may come. In the darkness of a winter morning or the bright emboldening sun of the summer, in the balmy humidity of August or the dry chill of February, I make The Walk, and try to decipher a little bit more of who we dare to be, and why.

LET’S DISCOVER ONE ANOTHER

KISS ME HERE, TOUCH ME THERE,

PUREST FORM OF ECSTASY

TRUTH OR DARE, DON’T BE SCARED

LET ME SOLVE YOUR MYSTERY

I summon the spirits of Miranda Priestley, Norma Desmond, and Margo Channing. I conjure the regal bearing of the kings and queens that history has worshipped and deified. I become imperious, haughty, untouchable and divine. With each step I inhale the brisk, blunt, bold persona I so desperately want to embody, and I build myself up to mythic stature through sheer force of will. If I believe it, they might believe it too. By the time I enter the building, I am, in my own mind and countenance, a formidable force. If only a fraction of that comes through, I might be all right. I might make it through the day.

I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE BROKEN DOWN

LET YOUR WALLS CRUMBLE TO THE GROUND

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

EVERY SCAR THAT YOU TRY TO HIDE

ALL THE DARK CORNERS OF YOUR MIND

SHOW ME YOURS AND I’LL SHOW YOU MINE

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

On most work days I take my lunch alone. I prefer it that way. In my line of work I have to deal with people all day – phone calls, meetings, discussions (even going to the bathroom can be a social booby trap) – so when I get a break I revel in whatever moments of solitude I can find. Yet even on my own, I’m keenly aware of how people react to me. I notice every furtive stare, every stolen glance, and I’m extremely, though inwardly, self-conscious about it. It’s a vicious little cycle – in paying attention to others, I’m deflected into paying attention to myself, which, contrary to all apparent evidence and popular belief, is not how I prefer to spend my time.

LET’S CROSS THE LINE

SO FAR WE WON’T COME BACK

CAN’T READ YOUR MIND

I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK

CYNICAL SMILE

TIME TO TAKE OFF YOUR MASK

I’M ON YOUR SIDE

SO LET ME LOVE YOU

LET ME LOVE YOU

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Last week, for some unknown reason, I didn’t notice the people noticing me. A few surely were, I did catch one or two, mostly because I had a ridiculously over-the-top coat on. But then I looked down at the sidewalk, and then up at the buildings and storefronts, and when I stopped noticing them noticing me, I was overcome with a wild sense of relief, and a wonderful feeling of freedom. ‘When one’s mind is on one’s own business…’

Maybe it’s a sign of growing up. Maybe it’s a sign of authentic confidence. Maybe it’s a sign of genuinely not giving a shit what others think. When you play at something long enough, it tends to come true. 

I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ALL ABOUT

YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU’RE BROKEN DOWN

LET YOUR WALLS CRUMBLE TO THE GROUND

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

What does this have to do with a Madonna song? I’m not entirely sure. Madonna has always been about self-reflection/self-obsession, and a song like ‘Inside Out’ can be read as a simple ode of love to another, or as a way of getting to know your own self better. It’s one of the more majestic cuts from the ‘Rebel Heart’ opus, a beautiful power ballad with a meandering bass line and magnificent bridge. Pop perfection in a world that has lost touch with melody and song structure. At a more risky and romantic time, I would have given myself to this song, and to whomever held my interest at the time. I’m older now, and yearnings have quieted into something resembling sense.

EVERY SCAR THAT YOU TRY TO HIDE

ALL THE DARK CORNERS OF YOUR MIND

SHOW ME YOURS AND I’LL SHOW YOU MINE

LET ME LOVE YOU FROM THE INSIDE OUT

I still make The Walk every morning I go to work, but some days I forget myself, not bothering to build up the image that I expect others have of me. I forget to channel Madonna and Miranda and Margo, and I walk in without artifice or attitude, content to study the air, seeking a hint of spring, searching for something bigger than myself.

SONG #134 – ‘Inside Out’ 

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