The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Watching the landscape, or cityscape, pass by in the windows as music is playing too loudly in the background, and I sometimes feel like I’ve warped into a music-video world. It helps if the music is fast enough to keep time with the view, is catchy, but more obscure than pop (this isn’t about a sing-a-long), and bonus points for esoteric lyrics that require some level of reflection. It made me think about the world, not just America and it’s problems, but how the world seems adrift.

Today’s candidate for perfect music-video song came on just after noon when my iPod carefully selected the Cure’s Charlotte Sometimes. And Robert Smith’s repeated cries of “Sometimes I’m dreaming!” seemed to fit the ride, and the day, perfectly.

Songs, so full of memories for such different reasons, suggest the silent soundtrack of our lives played out without music but in our thoughts and memories, both conscious and subconscious.

Events of the day, had otherwise triggered thoughts of the past. And, of course, as we all do when triggered, I drifted back to the recent and more distant history and contemplated life on a grand scale. I imagined how we could change the world, if we could just maybe shift the country’s views a little closer to compassion. But the world doesn’t seem to want to change. Instead it seems prefers to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Ouspensky’s wheel once again revisited. Our current Presidential campaign depresses me. President Obama moves to the center because he has to if he wants to win. And the other side? The seemingly built-in misogyny, racism, anti-gay bigotry, and hatred of the poor -–even the working poor -–is so foreign to me. Getting in bed with the religious right and rewarding corporations (GE notoriously submitted a 57,000 page tax return and paid no taxes on a $14 billion profit), while repeating rhetoric about fighting for the common man. Really?

The judgments come from those mostly removed from situations. And dialogue with ideologues is not too far from dialogue with a brick wall. I stopped trying. Explanations are often interpreted as excuses. And most people don’t have any good ones. We just have to trust that most people are trying to do the right thing and for the most part succeeding. Then let things fall into place where they will. Because they will anyway.

None of us is so different as we would like to believe we are. The human condition does not produce many truly unique situations. More than one person has walked on the moon. And whatever you’re feeling, a million other people are feeling at the exact same time. That fact alone, upon reflection, should make empathy easier. But empathy equals weakness and appears disingenuous in a national campaign.

Most of us are just not as good at hiding our true selves as politicians are. Growing up Catholic I was trained at an early age to be confessional. I blurt what I think matters. But the majority don’t want to hear true confessions because they want to be lied to.  Some don’t care. Some can’t empathize. Some understand, but keep it to themselves. Some just don’t like the act of blurting. Most politicians are so rehearsed and reserved, that you don’t need to listen, and blurting in the two-party mainstream is absolutely verboten. And the one’s that do show any passion are punished immediately. Remember Howard Dean?

After watching the politics of the right spewed by Mitt Romney, the millionaire son of a millionaire, repeating calls for hard work and sacrifice, I was incredulous. What could he possibly know about sacrifice? If the Little Prince actually wins, and that is a distinct possibility, I think the country will have truly pulled the spigot from the drain. And many people will go down. Today was one of those disheartening days, but in a way those days are necessary to reinvigorate what I consider the good fight.

Some say, “We are who we are and we’ve done what we’ve done. And there’s no changing any of that.” But we can change the future. I have two young children and I don’t want to leave things for them the way they are.

Sometimes I’m dreaming.


Image: graur razvan ionut /