Friday, April 20, 2007

The Sun Shone Through the Windows

A posting for those that fell in Virginia

Overall, I didn’t enjoy high school. My senior year, I had enough credits that I only needed to attend school a half day. Afternoons, I spent at the University where my Dad taught, playing on their computers. I didn’t attend my own graduation. I don’t own any yearbooks, and I’ve never attended any reunions. The few friends I did have, in my geeky circles, I’ve pretty much kept in touch with via email and chat.

Junior high was even worse. It was an undending, day-to-day nightmare of teasing, harassment, and full-on bullying and beatings. There were a few bright spots, a few good friends. But all in all, I’d just as soon wipe all my memories from 7th through 9th grade, and most of them up through my senior year.

It wasn’t until my early college days that I started to not care what people thought of me. Or maybe it was just that I finally found a crowd that didn’t care who I was, so they could let me fit in without me having to change much. Whatever the case, in the early ‘80’s, life started making more sense to me.

One of the things I’ve learned, over the years, is that even those that were “mistreating” me in those years were struggling themselves. Most people that I’ve met and talked to went through difficult times in jr. high and high school. It’s just the way things are. Par for the course, and all that.

I’ve also learned that, as I looked back, I wasn’t always nice to other people, either.

And yet, somehow, as I went through life back then, trying to cope, and as I’ve tried to deal with my baggage in the years that followed, the thought of bringing a gun to school and shooting people never occurred to me as an option.

So, now, in the new century, when I read and hear about misfits and outcasts who take their frustration and their vengeance out on what they perceive as a cruel and unfeeling system, I’ve got mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I feel a certain bond, a kinship. I was where they were. I was mistreated, beaten, and mocked. I was trapped in a social system that treated me as the problem, not the victim (and frankly, both labels are counterproductive).

On the other hand, I never killed anyone. My life choices, such as they were, never ended up with anyone violently hurt or dead. I chose other ways of dealing with it.

So, a few years back, after the news of a school rampage finally got to me, I remember I sat up very late one night and wrote a song about it. As I did, I remember sitting on my living room floor and bawling my eyes out, after years and years of pent-up anger and frustration finally left me. I felt for those that got shot. I felt for their families. I felt for the boys that did the shooting. I felt for their families. And I was finally able to feel for me.

Anyway, here’s the song that came out of it:

The Sun Shone Through the Windows
Words and music by Mark Hansen, 3/5/01

The bell must’ve rang that morning
Drowned out by the noises
Of the clanging of locker doors
And a thousand busy voices

They were sorted into classrooms
Like a shepherd divides his herd
One was thinking louder
Today my voice will be heard

And the sun shone through the windows
Bouncing through the quiet hall and
The sun shone through the windows
Warming the early cool of fall
As the sun shone through the windows
How could anyone have known
Though the sun was out
There was a dark cloud in the air

He’d said he was going to do it
He even showed the gun
He warned her not to go to school that day
Said she’d miss out on all the fun

She’d let out a nervous laugh
Not quite sure what to say
That laugh was ringing in her ears
When the shots rang out that day


Now they talk about security
Detectors at the doors
Sentries stationed at the bathrooms
And cameras at every floor

They send the staff off to trainings
And the drills will never end
Would anyone be crying now
If he had just had a friend

Final Chorus
And the sun shines through the windows
Bouncing through the quiet hall and
The sun shines through the windows
Where the innocent have fallen
The sun shines through the windows
And the screams have all gone home
The sun is out
But there’s a dark cloud in the air

Mark Hansen


  1. Great post Mark. I wonder if more people knew that they weren't as alone as they think they were, what the world would be like. And if all of our perceived injustices growing up were be able to be viewed from the perspective we have now. Very nice Mark. I remember hearing that at the FCMA workshop a few years ago. Poignant message and one more people need to hear.

    Thanks for this Mark

  2. Hello, Mark. I found my way to your blog from a link from the LDS songwriter listserv (I put in my request to join, but it's taking a while for that request to process). Anyway, I just want to say that I really enjoyed this post and I've enjoyed looking over your website the past couple of days.

    The shooting at VTech was sad. It was interesting to see the immediate search for answers to the question, "why?" . . . and then the resulting blame game that ensued. Thank you for taking something out of it and reflecting on it in your life. That seems to be so much more of a healthy endeavor.

    I enjoyed the lyrics of your song . . . especially the line, "And the sun shines through the windows, Bouncing through the quiet hall . . ." Very nice turn of an image there, sunlight bouncing instead of bullets ricocheting. Nice touch.

    Thanks for your time.

  3. beautiful-

    Mark, can I reprint this at my place?

    Let me know, would ya?



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