So when you hear the phrase “Down By Law”, what pops to mind?

Is it the incredible punk bank fronted by Dave Smalley (who also fronted Dag Nasty and ALL)? Or is it the even more incredible independent film by Jim Jarmusch, starring Tom Waits, John Lurie (of the Lounge Lizards), and Roberto Benigni?

As slang, the phrase “down by law” carries a couple different meanings. In a musical sense (primarily jazz), “down by law” means having paid your dues, to have earned respect for your talent through hard work. In its other sense, that of prison slang, “down by law” means to have someone’s back.

Having just finished watching the film, I find myself contemplating whether the phrase is applicable to my own life, and to the people in it …

Have I paid my dues? Do I have the respect of the people around me … and most importantly, will they have my back if something happens and I really need it?

This is when my self-doubt and lack of self-esteem are most apparent … I’m pretty sure the people I consider to be my friends respect me and will support me when I need their help, but there’s always a little niggling thought in the back of my mind that tells me that I’m a fraud, that no one really likes me, and makes me worry that my entire world is going to come crashing down around me at a moment’s notice.

This is also when I know that I am not ready to quit seeing my crazy doctor, and I’m not ready to start easing myself off the happy pills … but that I’m also getting more control over my emotional well-being, and gaining better knowledge of who I really am.

And so I continue to live each day, with the conscious knowledge that the feelings are temporary, and that today’s emotional lows will be counterbalanced by tomorrow’s emotional highs; that the lows are not quite the same deep chasms they’ve been in the past, and that the transitions are not quite as drastic.