We’ve all probably hit that cliché of getting a song stuck in your head. Whether it be the ol’ Green Acres theme or some emotional lyrics from an Anna Nalick song or even some crazy tune from my childhood friend, the Dr. Demento Show… it’s something determined to get in the way of all those other thoughts rattling around in your mind. It clings to the surface of your consciousness and takes annoyance to new levels. Like an old friend paying you a visit and wearing out his welcome after not taking any of the four thousand subtle hints to leave.

But it doesn’t have to be a song. Any thought can get stuck in there. Movie quotes get to me quite a bit. They’ll churn in my brain taunting me cause I can’t figure out where they’re from or who said them. The rough ones to deal with are those strong memories from the past. Stuff you spent months or years putting behind you, and without warning, a casual meeting or a sentimental song or a random conversation will force them to the surface.

Why are those the rough ones? They have an emotional sting to them that worsens the longer the thoughts stay in your head. You know it’s all in the past. You know it’s best to leave it all behind. You know those thoughts shouldn’t even phase you any more. But they do. They become the bouncer with the big-ass Mag flashlight standing in the doorway to your other thoughts. You can see all the other thoughts just inside the doorway dancing it up and having a good time, but bouncer boy’s not gonna let you get to them without inflicting a little aircraft aluminum-based pain first.

I’ve run into this situation a few times in my life, and I’ve tried different methods to exorcise those pestering demon memories. I’ve tried drinking them out. I’ve tried sweating them out with lengthy runs. I even remember trying drastic measures in my youth like pounding my head against a wall for an hour to maybe knock the thoughts loose or sitting in the snow in my boxers staring up at the night sky hoping to freeze the thoughts out of my skull. And after all that crap, I eventually found out how to get past them… acknowledge those memories.

Ya see, those memories and thoughts are attention whores. They just want your time, and they’ll harass you until they get it. If I don’t write them down or talk to someone about them, they’ll linger in my mind for as long as they possibly can and constantly be in the way. In the past, I learned to push past them to get stuff done. Sometimes I still do that until I can find time to acknowledge those thoughts… until I can find time to get them out of my system.

Lately though, it hasn’t really been a song or a distant memory hanging out in the cozy little lounge in my brain… it’s been a story. “Hey, you’re a writer. That’s a good thing.” It is… and it isn’t. The problem with this story is I’ve been afraid for years that I couldn’t write it. Well, not really that. I was afraid I couldn’t capture the beauty and tragedy and emotions of this story with my writing. I was afraid I’d ruin it if I tried to write it. And all this time, I ignored its calling and just pushed past it. I forced my way through it to get to all the other thoughts I needed to access for work and my writing. In a sense, this one story’s been holding me back.

That changed earlier this year. I finally found the courage to put the story to paper. The fear’s still there, and I catch myself scrutinizing every thought and word associated with this story. It’s taking a lot longer than it normally takes me to write a story, but at least I’m plugging away at it when I get a chance. And tonight I hit a milestone with it. I’m up this late because I finally got enough of the story down to make a difference… to clear out all the mental clutter and make it easier to pull out all those other thoughts.

Except now, I just caught myself humming the damn Green Acres theme song.