When I first heard this duo between Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, I immediately fell in love with the song. Yes I was a little girl when it came out so obviously I didn’t even know what they were singing about; I was just enchanted by the sound of their mesmerizing voices so I sang along to words whose meaning I didn’t even understand. As I grew older, my love for the song grew even more not only because it joined other 90’s songs as a time capsule of my childhood, but also because I started to understand the message of hope and perseverance that the song carried. This was one of my go-to songs whenever I felt a bit down and I needed Whitney and Mariah voice to soothe my bruised soul.
But let me tell you, this song wasn’t done climbing its way up the chart of my list of all time favorites. You see, this song is the soundtrack to the “Prince of Egypt”, an animated adaptation to the story of Moses from his birth to the moment he lead the Israelites out of slavery and into the promise land. I had never seen the movie until about 2 years ago when my little sister forced me to watch it. This is the one they sing as they begin to make their way out of Egypt, not quite sure how or if they’re going to make it. It’s a song of self-doubt, hesitation, but also of hope. There is a line in the song saying,
“We were moving mountains long before we knew we could
There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill
who knows what miracles you can achieve
when you believe, somehow you will”.
This is an important detail because that first line carries a big meaning. During their time as slaves, they were moving blocks of dirt to built the pyramids, literally, moving mountains. Having the courage to leave and cross the desert into the promise land, that was going to take a mountain of faith but as the song said they were moving mountains long before they even knew they could. If they could do that with the pyramids not quite sure if they’d make it, surely they could do so much more if they believe they can. Those pyramids stood as a symbol of what you can achieve and overcome even in despair, and how much more you can do once you become aware of your own perseverance, of your own power.
The minute I saw that scene, the song took on a whole new meaning for me. Yes it was already a song of hope and courage, but then it became a song of looking back at what you overcame in times of despair, and what you can achieve when you believe in yourself.
I think of my own story, battling with years of eating disorders and feeling like there was no way out of this exhausting labyrinth of self despair. All the days I spent kneeling in front of the toilet and puking my guts out hoping I’d reach a weight where I’d finally be lovable. All the times I spent brushing my teeth to get the taste of stomach acid out of my mouth, or the days of starvation or ridiculous hours in the gym. This could look like a sad story to you, but looking back I can see that even in the despair, I was building my own pyramids. I would try and go as many days as possible without throwing up, I would avoid buying the foods that I knew made me feel so guilty I’d spend the next minutes in the bathroom (bye Nutella), and reaching out to my best friend who said I should call him every time I felt the need to throw up. All of this was happening while I still hated my body, but deep down I knew that I was good enough to not need all this to live a good life. I was moving mountains long before I could.
Now that I’ve reached a point where I know that I am enough, that I know I am worth the effort, that I know I can do great things with my body, things are so much more different. I am now practicing yoga, doing poses I could have never imagined I could do. Handstands, splits, scorpion, figure eight, me? Yes me. Because this time, I believe and I’m creating my own miracles. This blog, it’s another miracle for me, because I believe I was something to say to help someone be kinder to their body. Though I must tell you, this is a fear that I must overcome every single time I publish an article. But then I get messages from people telling me my words help them. That my friend, is a miracle I never tire of witnessing.
This song is the soundtrack of hope, of hearing your self-doubt, your fears and finding a way to push through to come into your own power of overcoming. What were things in your life that you can see you overcame even when you didn’t think you could? What is in your life right now that you want to achieve or overcome, but it feels like an immovable mountain. Can you envision the miracle that you can create by believing in yourself?
“They don’t always happen when you ask
And it’s easy to give in to your fears
But when you’re blinded by your pain
Can’t see the way, get through the rain
A small but still, resilient voice
Says hope is very near”
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.