Gansta’s Paradise by Coolio
Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash
In the early hours of last Friday morning I was with my Dad as he peacefully passed away. This week I’ve been sorting through his things and remembering. Looking through his music collection I saw one of his favourite songs (even though he was 81 years old!) on cassette and CD single Gansta’s Paradise by Coolio.
I’ve always been fascinated by the lyrics to the song. Many of them are not relatable to me. I don’t see myself in the pistol smoke. I’ve never really lived the lifestyle which puts me at risk of being lined in chalk (having been murdered in some gang confrontation). And I wasn’t raised by the street.
Yet the song still contains so much wisdom and honesty about the fact that we are but a heartbeat away as we live in the valley of the shadow of death. We never know what the future might hold, and one response to that, and one common in our culture , is to try to insulate our self from risk. That might be in the form of insurance. It might also be through allowing our dreams to die for the ‘security’ of the nine-to-five.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with self-protection per se, yet when we don’t really have control over the meta-features of life, do we use self-preservation as a means of not taking responsibility for the micro-features we can control and living a reduced kind of life?
The song suggests: You better watch how you talkin’ and where you walkin’. The choices we make have serious consequences. But one of the things I’ve been reflecting on this week is the idea that life is for living, and the choices we make about ourselves in this respect is something we do have control over. So, whilst we do need to make sensible considered decisions, we also need to live life to the full.
I think what I saw in my Dad over the past few years was a great example of how to strike this balance. He was sensible, reasoned and planned, yet also prioritised living life as he saw it in its fullness. This is something that remains an ongoing challenge for us all.
Taken from the album: