You’d better put some beauty back while you got the energy.


I woke up with one of my favorite songs in my head this morning – Ani DiFranco’s “Back Back Back.” Have a listen:

This is the best I could do for a video of this song on YouTube.


Or, if you’d rather, read the lyrics.

back back back in the back of your mind
are you learning an angry language
tell me boy boy boy are you tending to your joy
or are you just letting it vanquish
back back back in the dark of your mind
where the eyes of your demons are gleaming
are you mad mad mad
about the life you never had
even when you are dreaming

who are these old old old people
in these nursing homes
scowling away at nothing
like big rag dolls just cursing at the walls 
and pulling out all of their stuffing
ever day is a door leading back to the core
yes, old age will distill you
and if you're this this this full of bitterness now
some day it will just fill you

when you sit right down in the middle of yourself
you're gonna wanna have a comfortable chair
so renovate your soul before you get too old 
cuz you're gonna be housebound there
when you're old you fold up like an envelope 
and you mail yourself right inside
and there's nowhere to go
except out real slow
are you ready, boy, for that ride?

your arrogance is gaining on you
and so is eternity
you better practice happiness
you better practice humility
you took the air, you took the time
you were fed and you were free
now you'd better put some beauty back
while you got the energy
you'd better put some beauty back, boy
while you got the energy

Lyrics courtesy of Danah Boyd.

So, the song is all about tending the garden of your soul before you’re stuck with yourself as someone you don’t like in your old age.

“So renovate your soul before you get too old, ‘cuz you’re gonna be housebound there.”

A warning. An instruction manual on how to treat the earth and other people and your mental health.

Of course, there are other reasons to live like this:

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” –Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Because someone once did it for us.

“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.” –Annie Lennox

To change the world.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” –Lao-Tzu

To create a world where we want to live.

I’ll be honest. I don’t live this way. I don’t live like I’m trying to cultivate my future peace, or anyone else’s, for that matter. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have a biting tongue, a skepticism, and a snarkiness that ranks up there with… Well, with someone really snarky and critical.

But I’m working on it. I’m keeping the life I want to lead in the forefront of my mind. Eye on the prize, right?

What are you doing to “put some beauty back”?