This morning a song came on my iPod as I stepped off the B train at Rockefeller Center. As it played, I walked slowly through the station towards the exit. I nearly began to cry. I’m almost embarrassed to say what song it was, but I’ll suck it up. It was “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.
I’m not, nor was I ever, the biggest fan of R.E.M. - I never really got into them when they were big, and even having listened to much of their music in recent years, I remain more or less disinterested. Yes, I appreciate and enjoy a couple of their tunes, and I can see why they became so popular, but I missed that boat, apparently.
This morning, though, “Everybody Hurts” started to play and something turned on inside my head. That song has always reminded me of something. Of another song, another age - something. It has one of those melodies, that timeless alternating I-IV chord progressions - it feels familiar, even it you’ve never heard it before. I remember learning relatively recently that it was an R.E.M. song and being legitimately surprised it hadn’t been released 30 years earlier.
Change to present tense:
So it’s playing this morning and everything comes sharply into focus. All outside noise disappears and I just see people. They all look the same. There is no such thing as age. Race. Gender. Class. Religion. It’s clear to me in this moment how much we share, how deep the connection runs. How much pain we all feel. How alone we all are. Each one of us, walking in this world, feels isolated. A societal focus on individuality separating us in our minds from the vast interdependent organism that is Humanity.
In this moment of intense stillness and quiet, I have an incredible sense that the hurt and loss and loneliness we feel is somehow good, somehow right. That it is one of the many things that connect us as human beings, one of the multitude of ways in which we are never - can never be - truly alone. That it is the imperfections and inconsistencies that make life perfect.
That no other day could possibly exist. I smile.