Soundtrack for Life

Today I found an old mix CD that I made about 11 years ago. In typical fashion, I hadn’t written anything on it so I had no idea what it contained. I gave it a listen.

I was slightly embarrassed by a few songs, surprised by others, a few I’m still a big fan of and apparently I was going through somewhat of a country phase at the time.

It’s funny to me how we think we know the words to some songs at certain points in our life. When I was little, I sang the words to Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts” — or rather, I sang what I thought were the words.

Fast forward 20 years and I remember when I sang the song again after not hearing it for two decades. Suddenly my childish take on the lyrics was improved, and the words were correct. It was as though I’d been reprogrammed with some innate understanding of the lyrics. Weird.

When I made today’s CD 11 years ago, some of the songs held special meaning to me at the time. Some were pining for love lost, others were more bolstering and renewing in their message. Today, none of those songs hold any meaning to me, except for the ones I still like and which have stood the test of time. But even the meaning of those doesn’t venture much beyond merely reminding me of good times, hot summer sun and maybe a cold beer.

Some of the songs I can still sing along to without tripping over lyrics that have spent years gathering dust, while others I’m suddenly able to harmonize to when I never tried before.

Finding that old CD was a lot like thumbing through an old journal. You remember the situations at the time, and you remember the power they held over you. Their aftermath, either rife with happiness or a somber spirit (there seems to be little in between during one’s younger years, no?) affected the way we sang our tune then, and it had a direct impact on whether we were able to harmonize with it — in other words, whether we were able to see things from a different perspective and look at all sides objectively.

Words we thought we once knew but which we now know, harmonies we couldn’t sing then but which we’re able to now and the singing of lyrics that have never faded from our memory — the same way some of our strongest habits will never leave us — is what makes life a symphony that we’re able to enjoy, find a new arrangement for, record, re-record or scrap entirely. The beauty of music is that it can be composed however we want it to be, and the beauty of life is the same.

Tonight I am thankful for the shared bond between life and music, and the common thread that reminds me to write my own tune. Whether I choose to keep a few bars from younger years, add a new melody in my current years or find new harmonies with others to make up my soundtrack for life is the joy in each of us being our own composer.

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