Today I was thinking about a quote – you know the one, that says “Pain is your friend, it lets you know you’re still alive” – and I realized that I couldn’t place it. And it occurred to me that this is likely due to the fact that it’s such a universal idea, employed by nearly every war/drama/comedy film out there.

[Just as I was writing this I remembered where the exact line is from: G.I.Jane, as spoken by Viggo Mortensen. Aha! Writing solves everything.]


Universal ideas: they have a 50/50% chance of wreaking havoc on your life. They’re everywhere: everyone dies, love is all we need, love with kill you, money talks, good will out, etc. Check out some Beatles albums – you’ll find many. And for all their generality, they usually turn out to be true. My 18th Century British Lit professor will hate me for saying this, but the universal human condition often turns out to be just that – universal.

So I suppose as I relate the following anecdote, many of you will know where I’m from – and if you don’t, oh just wait, you will.

Let me say that as of late, my life has become a cluster fuck. And like any good English major, I love this phrase because it brings up so many appropriate images in varying intensities. While there are several aspects I could go into here, I will say that the heart of the cluster – the chewy center, if you will – is my personal life.

This weekend, determined to get away from it, I hiked up to the top of a hill in a local park, with one of the best views in Sonoma county, and just sat there for a bit. Totally alone, wind in my face, watching the falcons swoop up and down on the wind currents. Peaceful, right?

And that’s when the little God who controls the Ipod shuffle intervened. I kid you not, every song that came up was somehow echoing the exact thoughts in my head. And I thought to myself, either I am projecting my troubles heavily onto everything around me, or everything around me knows my troubles.

I chose the latter.

I am becoming ever aware of the fact that life is messy. And frustrating. And causes people around you to punch the sides of armoires. But in these moments there is a reassuring sense that you are somehow participating in the angst of the world – a universal pulse. Maybe no one’s pain is exactly the same, but maybe at the heart of it all, it is more alike than not.

I cannot help feeling that if all I gain from these trials is a deeper understanding of country music, so be it. Maybe it’s the eternal optimist in me, but I feel like whatever may happen, at least I’m still here, being frustrated, and upset, and thoughtful, and alive.

And for the record,

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