Keep Breathing: Ingrid Michaelson

“People are dying. I close my blinds… I want to change the world; instead, I sleep.”

Being self-centered is the easiest thing to be. Most of us are taught from a young age to think of and consider the thoughts, feelings, and circumstances of others, but like most etiquette training, thinking of others is counter-intuitive and something that doesn’t come naturally to us. At all. We must be trained to do this, and we always fail, some of us far more than others. It is totally natural to be self-centered, to be fixated on one’s own problems and only consider the problems of others sincerely when their issues affect us, either directly or indirectly. It is easier to commiserate with someone when you have common ground with them and it is easiest to side with and consider the perspectives of those who’s affiliations match our own. So many of us spend the majority of our time ruminating over our own problems, whether the grievances we face are legitimate or otherwise. It should be a staggering slap back to reality, a badge of shame, that we can be aware of wars being fought, genocide committed, people around the globe dying of dehydration and hunger, and yet their concerns fail to linger in our minds as profoundly as the thought of our own kids’ private school tuitions, our car payments, and getting that promotion in order to show up the neighbours that we’re generally ambivalent about, until it comes time to gloat over some assumed point of superiority.

Why is that? Why do people only matter for what they can do for us, what they can give us on a material and psychological level? If other people only matter because they give us food, shelter, money, attention, and admiration, then do we really value their humanity, or does the cusp of their existence rest on their ability to validate our own?

Hostage: Sia

“It all begins with just one kiss.
I’m held hostage by your love.
Put me in cuffs,
Lock me up;
I’m held hostage by your touch.
This prison is rough, but
I can’t get enough.
The secret life of us keeps me in handcuffs.
Don’t lock me up!
Don’t you wanna free us?
I’m held hostage by your love.”

 

So often, in various forms of art, love is referred to as a prison, a state of entrapment. Perhaps it is. Love can make servants of even the most powerful and self-sufficient, turning us into slaves to our emotions. The compulsion to feel and act on feelings that are confusing and consuming can be terrifying and tumultuous. Luckily, those feelings can often be adrenaline-inducing and amazing, and cause us to be quite cozy in the little jails of our hearts.

Baby gone: Asa

“I wish I’d kissed you deeper…”

 

Nigerian singer-songwriter Asa (pronounced like “Asha”) was my musical surprise of 2013. A friend sent me one of her songs on Spotify (“The way I feel”) and while I was impressed by her unique vocal stylings and obvious talent, that was about it. Almost a year later, back in January of this year, I heard a few of her other songs and wanted to beat my head against a wall for not having plunged into the deep ocean of beauty that is her music. Songs like “Tinderbox” and “Glow” felt almost magically surreal and beautiful. Songs like “Jailer”, with an overt political message, showcased a rather attractive social consciousness. But “Baby gone” is Asa at her most emotionally transparent and vulnerable.

It is often difficult to take accountability for our own actions, especially in a love gone wrong, where our emotions are often still too raw to process the end of an era, let alone our hand in it. “Baby gone” highlights with such captivating sincerity that pride has no place in love.

No One’s Gonna Love You: Band of Horses

“No one’s gonna love you more than I do….”

Hasn’t everyone been in this situation, where you are so in love, a love bordering on addiction, that you feel that no one else could have ever or will ever love this person this intensely? Even more common is the feeling that, once that person leaves and takes their love with them, you will never love anyone else ever again. The former is impossible to know but the latter is rarely true. However, I love that Band of Horses captures the fervency of infatuation and love, however fleeting, so eloquently. We’ve all been there, so why not?