A Love Affair with Music

If you’ve actually met me in real life you know I suck at music and it’s obvious. I know nothing about popular tunes. I have no clue who is who at the Grammy’s, and if I sat next to the most famous singer in the universe on a plane I probably would have no idea (unless it was Bono).

But I have a secret. Though my life screams #MusicFail from the outside, I have a secret love affair with songs.

You already know that I’m a nerd about reflecting and evaluating the past as a way to move forward. What you don’t know (until now) is that this whole process in my head comes with its very own accompanying score.

Like every good movie, every life should have a kick ass soundtrack. I’ve been busy compiling mine, and I hope you’re working on yours too.

There is always a song playing in my head. It doesn’t matter if the song is old, or popular, comes from a genre I hate or has a bad tune. If the words resonate with my moment, they are playing in the background (usually on repeat). 

I love words (cue: You and I Both / Jason Mraz) and I grew up in the era when giving someone a mixed tape was the ultimate expression of endearment (cue: St. Elmos Fire – the feature song on my favorite college mixed tape entitled “around the world at z speed”). 

Music has a way to take you back. You can close your eyes and listen to the words of song that you loved ten years ago and return in an instant to the time, space and emotions of that moment. It’s kind of powerful.

I’ve never read the book “Love is a Mix Tape”, but its author Rob Sheffield said a few smart things.

“Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of life.” 

Since we’re in 2013, I’ll allow you to substitute the word playlist for mix tape (as long as you promise to recognize that sitting by the multi-deck tape recorder crafting a mix tape was a much greater labor or love than rocking out a new playlist on iTunes and uploading it to the cloud).

I make a lot of playlists.  In January I make a playlist for my year ahead based on whatever theme word I’ve chosen for my year. On my birthday I compile all the songs that remind me of the year of my life that has just passed. Every big trip, life transition, and long race I train for gets its own soundtrack. I even have a special playlist for surviving rainy season in Cambodia.

“There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one,” Sheffield says, and I couldn’t agree more.

As I was enjoying a run in the freezing cold rain in DC yesterday I found myself singing along to a mash up of two random tunes I recently discovered: “Stand in the Rain” and “This is not where I Belong” (Superchick / Building 429). I’m clueless if these bands are old or new or awesome or lame, but they are singing the stories of my current transition. And I love that the stories they are singing to me are so much better than the soundtrack that was playing when I ran these same streets years ago.

I love music. It doesn’t just accompany our story, it tells it in its own special way.

Life deserves a playlist. What tune are you humming today?









Going Forward by Going Backwards

Today I landed in Washington DC, my official hometown according to my drivers license. On my quest this year to discover what home looks like for me, I’ve decided to start somewhere familiar- in the past.

This doesn’t mean that I’m moving to DC, I’ve just come here to start the unraveling.

On the agenda this week is sorting through what remains of my DC past and presence- a city full of memories, a bunch of great friends and a storage unit full of things that I probably should have gotten rid of a long time ago.

When I moved to DC in 2006, I was in a similar state of mind to where I am today: starting over, anticipating my next steps and living in the questions.

In my favorite café today I have a moment of panic.  How can I be sitting in the same place I sat seven years ago and still be trying to figure out the same things?

Then it hit me, I’m not. Circumstances may look similar, but I’m a different person than the girl that used to walk these streets.

Sometimes we need to return to the static places we’ve been in order to recognize just how much we are the ones who’ve changed. Returning can be a physical way to find your reflection.

When I recognize how far I’ve come and what I’ve overcome, I regain my confidence that all will be well.There is beauty in the backward. Standing in the past allows me to believe in the way forward.

From my vantage point on a corner near the capitol today I’m reminded…

The best is yet to be.