Out of the woods


‘Out of the woods’ is so much more than just a pop song. Maybe it’s because I’m the same age as Taylor Swift, maybe it’s because I find uncertainty disconcerting, but the lyrics have resonated with me since I first heard them.

Sure, the song’s focus is on a romantic relationship, but the question that runs through it can be applied to every area of life.

Are we out of the woods, Swift asks, desperately.

The answer is one I can only think about through squinting. I’d believed for years that it was only a matter of achieving something specific, or for an amount of time to pass, and I would unlock certainty like a video game bonus.

In the back of my mind, this assumption clung on to the next thing, and the next thing, and the next.

While I was travelling it was a faint counter for various ‘hurdles’ that I managed to overcome without being derailed. These ranged from catching flights to successful border crossings.

Throughout my relationships I’ve thought, again, faintly, that if we can only do this, or that, we will be afforded protection against future pain. That we could handle anything.

I craved that certainty, but was soothed by the promise that one day I’d have it, as if it were something to keep in my pocket; a talisman.

But we’re never out of the woods.

Of course there are benefits. It means that anything could happen, and that each day is so full of possibility. But I do love my plans. And the promise of certainty is so inviting.

The pure discomfort of first realising this, and then (trying to start) accepting it seems more intense because I feel so naiive for having believed for so long, and still wanting to.