Recently, in an email, Aaron
said something that I think he should put in his blog, but I'll put it here, at least:
"It's odd. I think that blogging was keeping me sane and my outlook positive. I tended to work a lot of things out while blogging and to share the things that were good that were going on. When I wasn't blogging, it was too easy to focus on the rest of the stuff going on. Not all of which is happy. It's not that the water level in the glass was any different. It was all in how I look at the glass. For some reason, when blogging, I don't see it as half empty."
For me, entries like the last one are part of the process of working things out. I wouldn't want people to think that something I write down (either good or bad) necessarily stays with me beyond the writing of it. Creation is a sort of purgation, after all. Although I certainly miss K. (quite badly), I think the real reason for the increased angst quotient recently has just been more time to chew over this stuff while I'm all by my lonesome. When I (or Aaron) vents about something that's bugging us, it shouldn't be taken to mean I am constantly mopey or have reverted back to being 18 again.
And the things that can cheer you up can be so, so simple. Kaz, a guy I know from around and from work, once lent me Stars' Heart
LP, one I'd been curious about but a bit hesitant to buy due to the nature of the acclaim (you know how it is - some kinds of praise, for no discernable reason, make you vaguely suspicious). I'm ultimately glad I only borrowed it; the first four songs and "Look Up" itself are classic, but the rest of the record I can easily do without. What a great EP it would have made, in the same order: "What The Snowman Learned About Love", the deathless "Elevator Love Letter", "Heart" itself, which may yet work itself into another Floating World column, "The Woods" and then "Look Up". That I would buy, and rank as highly as Belle & Sebastian's This Is Just A Modern Rock Song
EP (one of the few other examples of the form I own).
But it's "Look Up" I turn to when I'm feeling like I was feeling when I wrote about Twice Removed
. The opening and closing are a bit ragged, the choruses perhaps a tad too clipped and stuttering in the backing, but they grow on you, and the chorus redeems all. "Look Up" is one of those songs that, when you remember it, you're really only remembering something like a fifth or sixth of it. But who cares? Those are the best bits. The song has the decency to not hold the chorus in reserve for very long, and Amy Millan has a gorgeous voice, although at first you might think it's a little plain; keep listening. And what does she sing?
You're cold, maybe you just missed the sun
You fall, feeling like it's just begun
So far keeping it together's been enough
Look up; rain is falling, looks like love
Why does this make me so happy? Well, part of it is delivery naturally; that last line I would find impossiblely hokey under other circumstances, but here it suffuses me with that sense of well being on music can bring. The second line is a fine depiction of how it often feels when your emotions, positive or negative, control you. Time dilates. And that first line! The way Millan sings, there are two ways to look at "maybe you just missed the sun": Maybe you're feeling this way because you forgot about the sun, or maybe you're feeling this way because you haven't seen the sun and you miss its warmth. In other hands the question might feel rhetorical or maybe even snide, but Millan sings it with such obvious affection and hope that you can't help but feeling the same way. Maybe you do
just need to look up. Maybe the answer was up there all along, so obvious you just misplaced it there in the sky (remember the line from Rosenkrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead
about truth being there all the time so that it becomes a blur in our eye). Maybe you just forgot you can be happy. The simple faith "Look Up" has that our problems are solvable, that the solution has been there all along, makes my heart swell, something not nearly enough songs do. In the right circumstances, why might not falling rain look like love? Why shouldn't we strive for more than just keeping it together?
And so my heart breaks a little, again. But hearts are infinitely malleable things; sometimes they need to crack a little to be mended, to flow like mercury until once again seamless. When your heart is broken, really broken (something I thankfully have little experience with) it feels like it goes on forever, like something inside you has gone away, but soon enough the heart flows back to where it belongs; it thaws and solidifies again endlessly, and all it needs it our permission to do what it needs to. Of course songs break your heart, with sadness or beauty or passion or anything else; they need the practice.
Maybe we just missed the sun. Let's go outside and look for it.