A Real Moment:

I’m in a large cafe north of Greenwood. Kesha’s song Tik Tok is playing in the background. The playlist for the past hour has been music from the 2000s. All I can think about is my dull sense of hunger and how awful the music has been. I’m supposed to write something for you. But I don’t know what that is yet.

I am guilty of wanting to identify with music too much. I have a tendency to find a song that feels like a reflection of what I am going through at the moment. And I listen obsessively, closely paying attention to lyrics and interpreting them in a way that makes them about my life. (Because I feel like the main character.) I treat songs like boxes. I hide in them. I can hide myself behind the walls of the box and not have to feel my own situation. Sometimes songs feel better than my subjective reality.

I don’t recommend listening to music in this way. It’s not healthy. —Find a way to live your own life.

There’s a quote by Kierkegaard that I find relevant here. It goes something like this: Insofar as you label me, you negate me.

Sometimes we prefer to label ourselves rather than deal with the real complexity and ambiguity of our situation. We put a little box around ourselves, and we say that we fit in the box and only in the box. But we’re bigger than any box, and we can make new boxes—come up with new words and new labels as we change.

The other day I was listening to a song. I really felt the lyrics. And I’ve been listening to the song frequently. I wanted to identify with the song, as if it were a reflection of my fate—a prophecy about where things in my life were going. But songs are not fate; they’re art. They’re not a box to hide in; they’re blocks to build with.

I sang along, badly, resting in the knowledge that my fate is different than my interpretation of lyrics.