Click here to return to the Shaking Through Home Page


  Shaking WWW


 Archive Home | Movies | Music | Books | Comics | Editorial


Different Wavelengths

What is Rox Populi? | Archived Columns

Posted: December 19, 2005

By Christopher Roberts

A long, long time ago, in an institution of higher learning, I took part in a discussion about nature's indifference to mankind. Yeah, I know, deep stuff. But wait; it got worse. We went on to discuss the vastness of the universe, and the insignificance of the individual in the ultimate scheme of things. (Yes, Virginia, it's true what they say about college being a four-year break from the real world.) Something occurred to me at the time, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. To paraphrase Morpheus from The Matrix, it sat there like a splinter in my mind.

Years later, while driving around listening to the Clash on a cheap car radio, I had a moment of clarity. I remember it vividly, because I don't have many of them. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky. The greenest trees you ever saw were waving gently in the wind. I was born anew in the awesome beauty of nature. The next day, the transmission literally fell out of my car, leaving behind a twisted puddle of lubricants and metal bolts. As I stood there aghast at the remains of my car, I looked around. And guess what I saw? The sun was shining in a cloudless blue sky. The greenest trees you ever saw were waiving gently in the wind. That's right -- nature really did not give a crap about my misfortune. There's always a disheartening feeling when you're reminded that the sun is not shining "just for you." It was truly a realization of my place is the cosmos.

But finally that splinter in my mind came loose, and I realized that I had a secret weapon. I gave the squeaky radio knob a turn to the left and heard the pounding rhythms of Iron Maiden assaulting my auditory senses. All right! These dudes felt my pain! I sat there for some moments, bathing in the melodic shower that was "Run to the Hills." It didn't fix my transmission, but it did adjust my surroundings to fit my mood.

It isn't just nature's indifference to man that makes us feel alone when things aren't going well -- it's our indifference to each other. When things are going well for us, we're stepping light and living easy. But remember, that same warm sunshine illuminating your perfect day is also shining on some dude with one lung, pissing blood outside a bar in Juarez.

Okay, perhaps that's a bit extreme, but you get the point. Ever been in a foul mood and had to deal with someone who is just having the greatest day? It's difficult, isn't it? Their glee is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Life, when you get down to it, is a series of conflicts between individuals on different wavelengths. You may go home and crank up Alice In Chains, while the happiest dude you've ever met with gets in his car and turns up Hootie and the Blowfish.

That's when I figured it all out. Sure, we'd all like to believe that the world is a benevolent, nurturing place that rises and falls on our successes and failures. But the sad truth is that it is not. As has so often been said by those far more eloquent than I, "the world is what you make of it." And music is what helps us turn the world into whatever we're going to make of it. It wasn't nature that followed my mood on that great day I had; it was the music of the Clash banging out of my cheap car stereo speakers that sparked my euphoria and colored my vision of the world. And the following day, it was the music of Iron Maiden pumping up my adrenaline levels when my car fell to the fickle winds of fate.

When I graduated from college, I don't remember what music was being played at the ceremony, but I can tell you with total certainty that U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" was playing at the party afterwards. We can't keep the sun from intruding on our crappy day or rain from dousing our perfect one. But we can always find the soundtrack to our soul in music.

And so this Christmas season, as we reflect on all the troubles in the world, I won't get all sentimental on you ask you to ponder the beauty or the cruelty of life. But I will ask you to remember that the world is "what we make of it." So crank up some Judas Priest, some Yanni, even some Frankie Goes to Hollywood if that's how you swing, and let the music move you to a happier place. Me? I'm gonna crank up John Lennon's "Happy Xmas." After all, in the grand scheme of things, we're only around for a pretty short time, so "let's stop all the fight" and get on with the business of living as best we can, you dig?

"A very Merry Christmas
and a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear ..."

Site design copyright 2001-2011 Shaking All original artwork, photography and text used on this site is the sole copyright of the respective creator(s)/author(s). Reprinting, reposting, or citing any of the original content appearing on this site without the written consent of Shaking is strictly forbidden.



 Ratings Key:
 5.0: A classic
 4.0-4.9: Stellar work
 3.0-3.9: Worthwhile effort
 2.0-2.9: Nothing special
 1.1-1.9: Pretty bad
 0.0-1.0: Total disaster

Archived Reviews

Most Recent

Highest Rated



Best Of Lists: All

Rox Populi: (Latest) (Archives)

Halftime Reports