The Sarah McLachlan Effect: Why I Almost Named My Website After A Song

The first time I heard Sarah McLachlan’s Building A Mystery, it felt like my life was being reflected back at me through song. The chorus sums up the experiences of my young adult life at the time: I had no idea where I was going or how to get there, but I knew that with each moment and experience, I was building something solid and real within myself that would prepare me for what comes next. My website on Tripod was originally titled Building A Mystery, after the Sarah McLachlan song.

Building A Mystery was my first choice when it came to deciding what my website should be named. I had Sarah McLachlan’s album Surfacing on repeat while I was in high school, and later while in college the following year. Building A Mystery was the first song on the Surfacing album, and I would listen to the album while working on my website. This song in particular spoke to me the most. It’s about making your own way, but still feeling like you’re missing something in your life. It also talks about taking control of who you are and going after what you want.

The lyrics of the song resonated with me on a personal level, as well as a professional one. As an 18-year-old girl struggling with mental health issues, I found hope and peace through this song because it seemed to tell my story. It made me feel as if I wasn’t alone, which is a common theme throughout all of Sarah McLachlan’s songs. That was why this was the name that made sense for my website; because it described how I felt then and still feel now.

At the time of Building a Mystery‘s release, I was lost, drifting aimlessly through life without direction or purpose. Then, my world consisted only of being someone’s girlfriend, and there wasn’t much more than that for me to cling onto for sanity or happiness.

I used to imagine myself wandering around the streets of a city, feeling as though I was lost, not knowing where to go or what to do. It seemed like I never found the place that would make me feel like I had a home. But, after listening to Building a Mystery over and over again, it helped me realize that home isn’t one specific place, but rather an idea. Home is wherever you find yourself at the moment. Sometimes it’s in your own apartment, surrounded by your favorite books. Sometimes it’s in the company of friends who will always love you no matter what mistakes you’ve made in life. And sometimes, it’s out on the open road with nothing left to lose.

The lyrics from Building a Mystery are so deeply personal to me because they embody the sense of longing for something more—something I can’t quite put my finger on. The song speaks to those deep down feelings that many people often don’t talk about or acknowledge, let alone share with others. So when I created my website—under the subconscious guise of mystery—I considered using the title from this song because it helped me remember how important it is to honor those feelings we have inside ourselves every day.

Growing up, my best friends were my books and my diary. Books spoke to me. My Diary wrote to me. They were all that mattered. So, it wasn’t a stretch when one day I considered naming my website “Building A Mystery.” But, then one day while listening to Sarah McLachlan, an idea popped into my head—what if instead of a name referring to the building process, it referenced some kind of experience? It might not be as simple and straightforward but it would be something personal. Something that resonated with me. Something that connected with the readership I wanted to build and create. Ultimately, I decided against naming my site after a song because it seemed too obscure for most people; however, there is no denying how important music and writing has been for me throughout my life and continues to be.

I created this website, TomSlatin.com, as an extension of myself. My website is mysterious, and full of secrets, just like me. In retrospect, it seems absurd that my site was originally going to be called Building a Mystery. The name didn’t fit with my intention of turning ordinary people into extraordinary heroes. Songs can be an escape; they’re an emotional roller-coaster that take us places we may never have gone. It is my hope that my site’s visitors will allow themselves the chance to escape and explore this digital world that I’ve created, where anything is possible.

When I first created my website, I wasn’t sure what to name it. At the time, most of my favorite websites were named after quotes or songs that inspired me and helped me to get through tough times. Every time this song would come on in one of my moments of sadness or self-doubt, I would think about how our flaws and imperfections being embraced and used as strengths instead of being shamed for not living up to some imaginary perfect ideal.

The image used in this piece was a selfie.

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