One of my favorite songs of all time is Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. The song was released in 1997; I remember the first time I heard it I stopped everything and focused in on the pulse of the lyrics thinking – yes- that is how I’ve been feeling. That explains the human condition – the despair some of us feel to simply exist, mingled with glimmers of the possibility of joy. I think this might be how Solomon felt in the beginning of the Book of Ecclesiastes, “So I worked hard to be wise instead of foolish – but now I realize that even this was like chasing the wind. For the more my wisdom, the more my grief; to increase knowledge only increases distress”. (Living Bible Translation) Solomon later concludes the book by finding that everything in life really is pretty pointless and futile without God. I won’t wax on too much on Eccleasiates and Solomon, but for this Christ follower (and work in progress), music lover, and over-analyzer of lyrics, this particular book of the Bible is chock full of modern day utility. We are all to be reminded that there really is nothing new under the sun; all things pass and both a wise man and a foolish man face the same fate. In the end, we just die.
So what made this song come into mind, particularly today? Today is the last day of public school for kids in our area. I am blessed to have two beautiful children, one of which wraps up the elementary school years in a few short hours. As I sent them off this morning with a bit of mist in my eyes, I thought of the song and felt exactly that, “Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life.” Life is beautiful, like a symphony, yet full of complex dissonance. Moving on from elementary school tastes a bit bitter, mostly for an adult like me, as it is a reminder of limited time. It tastes sweet due to success – a milestone met.
The song laments that we are all simply working toward nothing; an endless pursuit to just make it to the next paycheck. To fulfill the roles society has placed before us – to fit in. To be a pleaser. Although it is one of my favorite songs, I have to, in my present state of mind, disagree. Life does not have to be this way. We can wake up tomorrow and decide, after stubbing our toe while arising from the bed, to curse and be angry or be grateful that we have a toe to stub. We can chose to make our efforts worthy or wasteful, simply by our attitude and frame of reference. In another post, Kissing the HELOC goodbye, I explore the wonder of relieving ourselves from the stranglehold of debt as a key step in not being a “slave to the money then you die”. We have all made mistakes and at times strapped ourselves into lives we didn’t intend, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can change. I am here in my mould and I CAN change. I don’t think I’m a brassy gal here – I really do believe we can change mostly anything we want. And the easiest thing to change is ourselves: our response to negative occurrences, our frame of mind, our attitudes toward others, our impact in the world. The great news is, guys like Solomon tried it all and concluded that, all we really need to do is be thankful for what we have and trust God. To find the sweetness in anything bitter and be thankful for both.
So today, as my eldest finishes elementary school and my youngest embarks upon the next grade level later this year, I am thankful. I am grateful that they’ve been blessed with wonderful minds, and pray for the blessing of another year watching them (and me) age and grow. I will encourage them to never fall into the mode of thinking imparted by one of my favorite songs. Perhaps it isn’t a favorite anymore, for I taste no bitterness.