My favorite musician for awhile now has been Ray LaMontagne. I found him on Pandora one day as I was driving to work, and his music resonated with me. Music has always been my way of coping when I haven’t had someone to relate to, a friend or family member who was really present, a therapist who was paid to validate me (and I am not mocking their job, it’s really important), or some other distraction that could be deemed unhealthy.
Something in Ray’s music speaks to that. Songs like “Empty”, speak to not being able to enjoy certain moments for what they are:
“And of these cut-throat busted sunsets,
these cold and damp white mornings
I have grown weary
If through my cracked and dusted dime-store lips
I spoke these words out loud would no one hear me?”
He’s aware of what’s beautiful around him, but he can’t fully experience it because he needs to feel heard. He doesn’t feel understood. That’s what preoccupies him. He feels empty because nobody truly gets him from his point of view.
I talk to my friends all the time about saying positive things to themselves, not talking down to themselves, that it’s important to be their own best friends, but we’re human beings, we’re social creatures, we’re meant to feel understood and to reach out and give understanding. We’re meant to provide healing and to be healed. We’re meant to love and be loved. We’re meant to forgive and be forgiven. We’re meant to evolve alone and together.
Ray speaks to me. Music speaks to me. Love speaks to me. Loneliness speaks to me. Heartache speaks to me. Let’s speak to each other instead? Really speak and listen with open ears. I know it’s hard, but think about all the people on the Earth, and all the different backgrounds and experiences that we come from and try to imagine having to learn a new language when getting to know someone. I suppose that’s what it really is. It’s not easy work. It takes sacrifice and effort, and dedication, not just from one side, but both. Look at the current state of affairs that we’re in – My head hurts thinking about it, and yet just a year ago, in 2016 I was graduating proudly with a Master’s in Public Administration thinking that someone like Donald Trump would never be elected — yet he was.
I don’t claim to know every reason why, and I don’t claim to know every answer, all I know is that everything I wrote about in my comprehensive exams, everything I discussed in class, everything I believe in, revolves around human beings attempting to understand other human beings. I struggle with this everyday. Sometimes I really don’t do the best job at it. That’s human nature. But, we have to get better at it. We all have to find a common ground. We can’t just keep the status quo. Where is it going to get us?
For me? It makes me feel empty sometimes. Just like Ray, and that’s no way to feel in this beautiful world that we’re meant to preserve and keep and cherish, and most of all, enjoy, and help others enjoy.