Helplessness Blues by The Fleet Foxes: Reading and Meditation

April 26, 2020  • Hannah Wardell-Metcalf

download reading

Helplessness Blues, by The Fleet Foxes


Lately, I’ve been feeling a craving to be helpful. To make something, to ease a little bit of pain, to fight back against the hydra. Sometimes it’s charity, but often I find myself with the selfish desire to do something masked as charity. This song by the Seattle based band Fleet Foxes sums up my feelings: helplessness aching to be relieved. As an upper middle class American, it’s a feeling I haven’t encountered very much; usually when I have a problem I can do something about it in a way that’s satisfying and solution-oriented. But not this time around. I’m not a medical professional, my family is a vulnerable population so I can’t run errands, I don’t even sew. This crisis has tied my hands and forced me to un-attach my dignity from my production value, my “purpose,” or even my ability to help. But maybe that in of itself is valuable. And maybe seeing myself as “a cog in some great machine,” tied up in the frustrated mass of humanity, teaches me to love my neighbors who live in a constant state of helplessness better. Or maybe I just need to “find an orchard and work till I’m sore”.  

Have you been feeling helpless? What have you been doing to relieve this feeling? Can you be valuable even though you’re helpless? How does this feeling help you better understand others nearby who live in a constant state of helplessness? What is the “orchard” that’s waiting for you to work until you’re sore?

Hannah Wardell, Colorado Springs, Colorado