I am dying of thirst.
I am lying on the floor, immediately after finishing the first week of the well-known Insanity workout tapes. It’s a Friday afternoon and there is rest tomorrow. But now I am breathing hard, trying to recall the advice Shaun T gives: breathe deep, don’t stop moving, check your heart rate and make sure it’s safe, DON’T SKIP THE STRETCH. I try and roll out of the fetal position and into some semblance of a standing straight-back stretch (“Neutral neck and spine!” says Shaun T). I can’t hold the stretch for long though, because like I said, I am dying of thirst.
Kendrick Lamar is dying of thirst. He says so himself on “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” the 10th track on 2012’s incredible good kid, m.A.A.d city. His thirst is different than mine—it’s driven, non-stop, not easily quenched. It’s a palpable thirst for something that has really manifested itself the past few months. We heard it first in the “Control” verse that had the hip-hop community buzzing, and then we saw him perform “Radioactive” remixes with Imagine Dragons at the Grammys and on SNL. He’s on a tear right now, but still, he’s dying of thirst.
We are dying of thirst. In the first chapter of Addiction and Grace, Gerald G. May writes that “[w]e are all addicts in every sense of the word.” We are all thirsty for something, and we all try to quench that thirst with something else. We get hooked on it and then realize it’s not that something. Take Kendrick for example. In that same song mentioned above, he tells us this in the last verse: “Money, [women] and greed; what’s my next crave? / Whatever it is, know it’s my next grave / Tired of running, tired of running / Tired of tumbling / tired of running / tired of tumbling.” It’s a snowball effect, and it doesn’t stop. We are dying of thirst.
And so I break the stretch and I walk over to the desk in the basement where I’ve set a full glass of water. I drink, and drinking that water feels incredible, but then the cup is empty and I’m still thirsty. I’m disappointed, but I have more stretching to do. I move back into position (“Right knee behind your big toe, left leg straight out behind you and hands forward. Neck and neutral spine! Keep that leg straight!”), hold the stretch for 15 more seconds, and then my cottonmouth gets the best of me. I break the stretch and run upstairs to fill the cup. I’m dying of thirst.
“Somebody send me a well for the drought,” raps Kendrick, and he’s desperate. He’s tired of running and tumbling, sick of trying to quench his thirst over and over again. Earlier in the album he tried to satiate by diving into a pool full of liquor (“Swimming Pools”) but all that got him was an “appetite for failure” and “hunger, pain, that grow insane.” He’s dying of thirst.
We feel the same way—desperate, tired, tumbling. We are dying of thirst, and we’re tired of it. But then, we hear the last two lines of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”:
“You dying of thirst, you dying of thirst / So hop in that water, and pray that it works.” Amen.
Brad Zwiers (’12) graduated from Calvin College in 2012 and Western Theological Seminary in 2015. He will not be graduating from any more schools. He often stares at books he wishes he could read but knows he will not finish and goes for long walks with his wife, Gwyn. Sometimes he plays basketball and always he follows the greatest sporting club in the world, Liverpool F.C.