The Music of Life
While we were in India I wrote in my journal every day, but reading over it now, the words aren’t exactly as I remember. Everyday when I would write I had my iPod on, headphones in, writing to theme music. I felt like the words were coming off my pen in the same way that the last scene of a movie unfolds, full of drama, meaning, song.
I thought that the music gave my words meaning. But maybe it was my words that gave the music meaning.
Because reading over it now, the words don’t have that romantic, nostalgic feel. That doesn’t mean that the memories are any less meaningful, perhaps more so. It’s just that the music that accompanied the writing wasn’t life, life was the music. The Music of life.
I have this friend named Brittany. Brittany and me worked together at Bubba Gump’s. We also lived pretty close to each other, so naturally, we rode the same bus to and from work each day. And each night we would ride home on that bus, and at the place where we would part ways, there was a Mel’s Diner. And we would go to that Mel’s three, maybe four times a week. Now, I can’t tell you much about what me and Brittany talked about at Mel’s each night. I remember flirting with the waitresses and confronting Brittany about how gross it was that she put mayo on her fries, but other than that, theres not much to report. Those nights at Mel’s were pretty ordinary. But that does not mean that they were not meaningful. In fact, quite the opposite is true. All those nights at Mel’s are some of my fondest memories from last year, and despite the “average-ness” of our interactions, Brittany is one of the people I miss most.
You see, I’m starting to become convinced that the “average-ness” is what the heart of life is made of. I think I somewhat expected life to play out like a movie. That the high points would all be accompanied with theme music and the low points all accompanied with rain. I subconsciously thought that life was made during moments where music was playing in the background. But what I’m finding out is that life is made in those moments where there is no music, in those moments of “average-ness”. Life is made in those moments of bus rides, burgers, boredom and routine. Life is celebrated in moments where theme music is playing. Weddings, graduations, prom’s. We celebrate life to theme music. But the music of life is written when the couple is fighting, when the senior is studying and the girl is shopping for the prom dress.
I have a couple of friends who make their livings as musicians. I am extremely jealous of them. Pop singer Cyndi Lauper said, “An artist’s job is to take a snapshot that explains what its like to be alive at that time.” A musician has the incredible privilege of taking a snapshot of life, and putting it into song. From there they play and perform the song, allowing themselves and their audience to relive that moment that they have captured. I think its important to realize that the moment came before the song. Beautiful love is not based off of beautiful love songs, beautiful love is based off of hard work and commitment, beautiful love songs celebrate that hard work and commitment. I think we go through a lot of life looking for the beautiful love songs in our own life, without taking into account the work that it took to make that song possible.
I kept expecting life to play out life a movie, when in fact life is more about writing the script.
I think thats where a lot of people get into trouble. We’re so accustomed to watching things go smoothly in movies. If you’ve ever seen (or been) a guy trying to pick up on a girl, you know it never goes as smoothly as it does in the movies. Either there is an awkward silence, or he fumbles his phone as he pulls it out, or she hears his name wrong, or there is confusion as to where they’re going to meet. It never goes perfectly! And the thing is we all know that, but we don’t always take that into account with everything else in life. We expect to get the good job, but we don’t take into account the years of school, the weight of debt, and the countless wasted resumes. We expect to find the perfect guy or girl, but we forget that first he must fumble the phone, and she must hear his name wrong. There is an awkward silence before the perfect kiss.
We so often forget about the awkward silence because its much more enjoyable to focus on the kiss. We think that life is lived in the theme music, in the parties, in the last scenes. But life is much more often lived in the dull moments. Life is lived on the bus. Life is lived studying in the coffee shop. Life is lived in the grocery store. Life is lived at poker night. We talk about the moment where Johnny won the big hand on poker night, without realizing that he spent a lot more time folding before he won.
I’m tired of waiting for those big moments. I’m tired of living in hopes of hearing the theme music. I want to live more when the only sound is breathing. I need to realize that life is lived to the sound of breathing, and celebrated to the sound of music.
I’m going to quit focusing on dancing to the song, and start focusing on writing the lyrics.
I’m going to start writing the music of Life.