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Hey, God…

What makes a song a favorite song? Is it the memories invoked, or the longings provoked? The identification experienced, or the inspirations evoked?

Some of my favorite songs over time have led me to dream bigger, run faster, consider the unconsiderable, to be good, to be naughty, to swell big, to shrink small, to sing loudly, to weep quietly. And to reminisce both fondly and with bittersweetened regret tainted with shamed relish. Today a fun song (not my current favorite) inspired me to perfect my ability to spit gum out the passenger window as I was driving. Aim high, calculate the trajectory, assess the traffic patterns and have a backup plan in case it lands in the back seat and starts to melt into the upholstery.

Usually I can identify what it is about a song that makes it my favorite, but not this time. Like I prefer to wait and see what the tide brings in rather than rush up to it and lose the overall effect of the moment, allowing the song to wash over at will without pursuing it, seems to help maintain its allure.

In this day of instant gratification, can a song be a favorite if it can be summoned and experienced upon command? I remember having to wait to hear a favorite song, played at the will of another. The anticipation and subsequent joy of experiencing it allowed for heightened savoring and insight, just as awaiting the treasure of the tide rather than pursuing it up close. It is better to stay seated and allow the water to rush in and see what it does to your senses…whether soothingly warm or sharply chilled, if it respects your boundaries or overcomes you, and if it deposits a treasure, or hurries back out of your realm without leaving an imprint. Do your feet sink a little further, or was it not strong enough to alter what was?

Just as I prefer not to peer too closely into the wave to see what it has stirred up out of the sea until it is sure it wants to present it as a gift to the shore, I would rather not listen too closely to the lyrics, lest they not be exactly aligned with my expectations, or one line be askew of an otherwise perfect song. Therein spoils the beauty of the experience, and diminishes the point at which two creative forces brush up against one another.

This is akin to my disdain for music videos…how to ruin a perfectly good song with the images of someone else’s idea of what the song means. Someone else defines it for me, as if I were devoid of my own imagination, as if I had no need to dream. Someone else’s dream came true, and they got a piece of the pie in the process. And my notion of the song is inextricably altered, forever, prisoner to another’s ideas.

Have greed and control overrun our natural ability to imagine?

How does one reconcile what seems like wisdom in waiting and ways of the past, with the ways du jour? It is indeed fun to rush up and see what the tide has brought in, but in doing so, the song loses its mystique and allure. The draw is in the unanswered haunting that beckons me to wait and see. I love this song right now because I don’t hear it as much as I think I would like, and I long to know and hear more.

But I don’t, and I will myself not to pursue it.

I will wait in my beach chair and see what the tide brings. In the meantime, doing so allows me to savor, to dream, to imagine, to relish, unspoiled, to relax in knowing that not satisfying my inclination to pursue will yield even greater returns as the tide wills. And it will forever remain my own music video, in my head.

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