These Precious Illusions


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When I first heard this song by Alanis Morrisette, back in 2002, I found myself transfixed by the lyrics. I related them to my own experiences and life lessons immediately. Music has always been a huge part of my life and its message(s) can be as powerful as a well constructed political speech.

Not sure what I’m talking about? That’s okay. Unless you approach music like I was taught to growing up, you would understandably miss the beauty of the well crafted lyric.

Music is storytelling. And for me, just as memorable as a lullaby. Here is my interpretation of the lyrics to “Precious Illusions” as it applies to me…

I experienced racism for the first time when I was 6. I remember being the only black kid in class and the teacher treating me differently than everyone else. I endured this for several years.  As a result, I suffered from low self-esteem and self-worth.  I was taught to be courteous, compassionate and treat people like I wanted to be treated. Although, I was a good kid, it still didn’t seem to be enough to influence people to look beyond the color of my skin. I trusted my parents (and their own precious illusions) to give me the tools needed to navigate this life safely while, at the same time, discovering myself and the world around me. However, my experiences were unique to me for which I was not prepared.  What child is?  I would definitely say that I witnessed a lot of horrific shit as a kid. The best and only way a young black male could deal with trauma was to suppress it.

You can easily get to a point where you need to pretend you live in a different reality than the one happening right in front of you. I admit that I had my own fairy tale of how life should be in order to make it through. Lyrics to a song can unintentionally give a voice to something you may have gone through yet have never acknowledged out loud.


You’ll rescue me right?
In the exact same way they never did…

I’ll be happy right?
When your healing powers kick in…

You’ll complete me right?
Then my life can finally begin…

I’ll be worthy right?
Only when you realize the gem I am…

But this won’t work now the way it once did.
And I won’t keep it up even though I would love to.
Once I know who I’m not then I’ll know who I am.
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim…

These precious illusions in my head
Did not let me down, when I was defenseless.
And parting with them is like parting with invisible best friends.

This ring will help me yet…
As will you knight in shining armor.

This pill will help me yet…
As will these boys gone through like water.

But this won’t work as well as the way it once did.
Because I want to decide between survival and bliss.
And though I know who I’m not, I still don’t know who I am.
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim.

These precious illusions in my head
Did not let me down when I was a kid
And parting with them is like parting with a childhood best friend

I’ve spent so long firmly looking outside me
I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode

This won’t work now the way it once did
Because I want to decide between survival and bliss
Now I know who I’m not, I still don’t know who I am.
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim.

These precious illusions in my head
Did not let me down, when I was defenseless
And parting with them is like parting with invisible best friends

These precious illusions in my head
Did not let me down, when I was a kid
But, parting with them
Is like parting with childhood best friends…


So what changed for me to let go of my illusions?

I decided to wake up and own what I experience instead of letting it dictate how I react.

And, most importantly… I changed the narrative.

I am no longer the victim.

I am the instigator.  The aggressor.  The antagonist.

And ultimately, the instrument of my own inspiration.