For eighty days, I’ve shared uplifting messages about oneness, a spirituality based on embracing the present moment, following our hero’s journeys and living from our souls. Sometimes there are shadows and darkness along the way, but we don’t have to get stuck in them. Individuation, as Carl Jung teaches, is a process of integrating the unconscious with consciousness, which means shining light on the darkness.
I was a child of the 80’s and early 90’s. I entered high school towards the end of the peak of heavy metal music. Metallica was one of the greatest of these bands and in 1991 they released “The Unforgiven.” This was yet another song that I absolutely loved as a teenager because the ballad style blended with heavy metal was deeply visceral. Back then I really paid no attention to the lyrics. The song just felt and sounded “bad ass.”
The lyrics are dark and deep and so very real. The Unforgiven tells the story of a boy who became the victim of his circumstances and the people around him. He allows these circumstances to define him and becomes trapped. The chorus begins:
“What I’ve felt, What I’ve known, Never shined through in what I’ve shown.”
He acknowledges there is a light inside of him. He felt it and he knows it, but he allows fear to cloud that light and becomes bitter. The music video shows a boy becoming an adult and then an old man. He allows the pain to become trapped inside of him.
“Never free, never me, So I dub thee unforgiven.”
As a victim, he blames those around him for the suffering of his life experience. At the end of the video, the old man has a choice to escape, but the resentment becomes so much a part of him, he decides not to climb out of his prison cell.
This song was so popular that Metallica created two sequels. In an interview I found on blabbermouth.net, the writer James Hetfield comments about the song’s theme and the bands’ decision to keep revisiting it:
“Maybe its not done, maybe I didn’t feel forgiven or wasn’t able to forgive. It’s one of those songs to me that is pretty personal, obviously revolving around forgiveness of the world and self and whatever else you have some resentment against, working through that.”
The Unforgiven was and still is an amazing song. Whenever it comes on unexpectedly in the car, I am sure to turn up the volume and feel into the music. Separation, fear, ego and victim thinking are not uncommon. This is a very relatable tale, but if you’ve learned anything from this blog series, you’ve learned it doesn’t have to be this way. Tomorrow, we’ll return to the light to explore a solution. Until then, feel the shadows of this amazing song and music video.