Hello & hope this little note of mine finds you well and happy :).
Today marks a truly special milestone in my life: after years of crying wolf, my debut album, Crossing Over, is not only entirely complete and up for pre-order, but—as of this very morning—I finally get to share a brand new song and video with you, “You Can Now Let Go”.
You can watch the new video here on YouTube, but if you have a few minutes to spare, I thought I’d tell you a story first.
About six years ago, I started work on my second album for my former band, The Enright House. I was excited by the idea of blending my guitar-centric sound with the darker, electronic sounds I grew up to in Germany. But despite repeated attempts at finishing this record, I never succeeded. Instead, I embarked on a 3-month tour of the United States; ended up relocating from New Zealand to New York; fell in love with my former college sweetheart (then out of love, then back in again); burned like wildfire through money earmarked for student debts; and just in general struggled a lot with being in my thirties and having very little to show for it.
Writing music, too, had become increasingly tough. Depression and the weight of my own expectations turned even the most spontaneous idea into pedantic procrastination. New songs turned stale and powerless long before I could muster the energy to complete them. Eventually, I just kind of gave up.
Then, about four years ago, I suffered a debilitating panic attack tripped by a frightfully gone-wrong high. Those of you familiar with my debut EP remember this story. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move my left arm, couldn’t speak, couldn’t get my heart to stop racing. Certain I was having a heart attack, I called 911. Waiting for the EMTs to arrive was one of the longest 30 minutes of my life, and so, by the time I arrived at the hospital, I was in such emotional distress that the nurses threatened me with restraints. I asked the physician if there was anything they could do for me (meaning, but not verbalizing: “…to prevent me from dying.”) “No,” the Doctor replied simply (meaning, but not verbalizing: “…it’s just a panic attack, you’ll be fine by morning.”) Today I can smirk about that exchange, but make no mistake: that night, after the doctor left the room, I closed my eyes, warm salt on my lips, convinced I was about to die.
You might ask yourself where I’m headed with all of this… well, as I closed my eyes, something quite profound happened to me:
I fell asleep and started to dream.
It was a dream that had come to me twice before—vision-like in clarity and otherness. On both occasions, I found myself standing just short of a mountain summit, the air thick and opaque with rays from a setting sun, and just a few steps ahead, perched atop the summit, a figure stood scintillating in golden light. In both dreams the figure asks me to come to him, his palm gently opening towards me. His presence feels like home and harbor—all origin, all destination. This dream didn’t feel like a dream; I felt entirely lucid. And while my dreaming-self wanted so desperately to reach for this figure’s hand, my lucid-self was afraid. I felt absolutely certain of this: the moment I touch him, I die in my sleep.
The repeat decision not to approach the figure always filled me with guilt and disappointment. Every fiber of me sensed these dreams were attempting to convey something of critical importance, and I wondered whether I hadn’t squandered a life-changing opportunity by choosing to wake myself up instead. “Next time,” I bargained with the great unknown, “I’ll be ready and brave.”
But time passed. My dream had not returned. So I forgot.
That night in the emergency room, waiting to die and instead falling asleep, my dream—that dream—returned to me. Again the golden figure reached out to me, and again I was afraid, but in mind I felt I was at the end, and had nothing to lose. So I let go, reached for him, and fell through myself—down, down, all the way down. I came to in the same hospital room, but everything was different here: the room and everything in it were made of golden light, and everyone I ever loved was waiting for me. And although some people were unfamiliar to me, I felt and knew that I was no stranger to them: they loved me, they had watched over me, and they had been rooting for me all my life. I felt loved, held, and of this world.
So imagine my surprise when I wake up the next morning, cleared to go home. I left the hospital staring vacantly at a grayish sheet of folded paper that reduced it all to “anxiety attack”. I went home in a fog, and for the next few weeks tried to make sense of what I had felt, the fear and the release. And so, eventually, I did what any musician would do: I began coping with the experience by writing about it, which in turn birthed “You Can Now Let Go”—the song I am sharing with you today. Depicting the moment of death not as trauma, but as a quiet and radiant farewell, it helps me remember what I learned that night: when interconnection, acceptance, and joy flood through you, it is a moment to embrace, not escape.
Be well. May you feel loved, of this world, free of shame, and unafraid—not just in death, but also in life. Happy Holidays to you. Until next time.
► Watch the video on YouTube