When Brandy and I bought our home – which if you didn’t know floats on the Pacific Ocean over here at the edge of North America – we immediately named it Serenity. There are a few reasons for this, or maybe I should say, a few connotations to the word that made it the perfect choice for us. I’ll give the best one first, and yes, it is an homage to our favorite tragically-cut-short TV show of all time: Joss Whedon’s cult hit, Firefly. The ship in that show (as well as the movie that followed) is named Serenity, and it’s more than just a spaceship, it’s a home for the series’ nine characters (or as Whedon put it, Serenity IS the tenth character in the story). We were buying our first home, so this was the perfect name for it. The picture shows a prop engine sticker from the show, with detailed fictional manufacturer’s specs for the Firefly Serenity (note the “J. Whedon Proprietor”).
The next reference is equally nerdy, yet still relating to the theme of home: in Sailor Moon, the title character really turns out to be Princess Serenity, the name she had in her true home on the moon. Then there is the famous shouted phrase of George’s dad in Seinfeld, “Serenity Now!” which we at least acknowledged as a funny coincidence. Less a factor in our naming decision, but I’d be remiss not to mention as it is even more well known, is the Serenity Prayer (“grant me the serenity to accept…” etc.). But all of those references together still don’t stack up to the real reason this name applies to our home: it is truly serene here, floating just off the shore on our little corner of the Pacific. Serene; tranquil; peaceful (which is exactly what “pacific” means).
After a stressful day at work, I would completely lose myself floating serenely on our back deck, facing away from the city, and just let the whole day wash off me (the source of “strips the whole world bare”). Times like that nothing could get through to me, and I might find myself thinking to the world at large: “I’ll get back to you later.” For now, I’m in my happy place, and you’ll just have to get along without me. That became the general tone and theme of Serenity. Specifically the final verse is all about our home on the water, where the word is brought in (“Serenity erasing all our cares”) that named our house, this song, and indeed the whole album, Songs of Serenity. The lyrics trace back from there to other general situations where the phrase “I’ll get back to you” could apply, like the third verse about my original home in Quesnel, musing about all the friends you mean to stay in touch with, “though time flows on.” Even the image of spawning salmon swimming back upriver to their birthplace played a role here too, though thankfully I won’t expire if I go back there!
Interestingly the song didn’t come about sitting on that back floating deck, or in a dream like others of mine, but just suddenly popped into my head late one night as I was getting ready for bed. I heard it as a sort of droning refrain with a didgeridoo going through it all, which morphed into the words of the chorus. Those words occur over and over, but in an ever-shortening refrain…
I’ll get back to you later
I’ll get back to you
I’ll get back
…as the feeling of serenity “strips the whole world bare.”