Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Architect of the Ruin” and Our Role in That Demise

As a fan since the 90’s I still mourn the passing of the mysterious and abrasive Toad from the pre-hiatus days (“Amnesia” anyone?) but the post-hiatus Toad seems to make up for it with ample wisdom that they now infuse into their songs.  Their latest EP’s title track is no exception and really rides a beautiful balance between insights and expression — the sorrowful realization of what we did to get us to where we are, and keen observations of the reasons why.

Simply put, if you don’t like where you are in your life, it’s your fault.  It’s not your parents, it’s not your school, job, town, society, or god.  There may be exceptions, there may be other contributing factors beyond our control, but for the overwhelming majority of us I really believe this to be true.

It’s because we don’t realize the power we have.  The power we have to choose.  The power we have to change.  We don’t realize that we have the power so we make easy choices, we make choices we aren’t even aware we’re making, and when we don’t like the end result we blame it on everything except our selves.

It’s the Marianne Williamson quote again.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful.  So we give up that power and whine about the consequences.  We are given awesome, fertile mind and resilient soul, but we only learn to undermine and compromise them.

The same power that created a situation you don’t appreciate can be applied to create one that you do.  Though I wouldn’t say they take the same effort — it’s a cliché but doing what is right is harder than what is easy.  But you can get on a roll by starting small.  If you don’t have the courage and willpower to make big, right decisions, then you start out by making them on a smaller scale.  Choose to get up instead of sleeping in, or choose to rest if that’s the harder choice than slaving yourself away.  Choose to put on a pair of running shoes and go out, instead of saying I don’t feel like it.  The more often you choose rightly, the more willpower muscle you build up, you confidence and momentum builds and you start being able to choose rightly on bigger decisions.

All the hurt and angry men
Play the victim till the end
Never easing their defenses
Well I won’t be them, I won’t be bitter

It’s easy to rage
It’s easy to blame
It’s easy to crumble and curse your name
But I owe you my life
I’ll swallow my pride
‘Cause part of me always knew just what I was doing
Architect of half of the ruin

Being bitter is easy.  Choosing to look at a potentially negative situation and find good in it, that’s harder.  It’s a heavy thought but the culmination of easy choices are the ruin.

But we have the power to change.  Every day, every moment, we have an opportunity to change.  To do what is right, to continue to build a series of right decisions, to make life better, to make the world better.

If we can architect a ruin, we can architect a build-up, too.  Let’s not wait.