Life has an unfortunate habit of abruptly becoming very busy, challenging, stressful, and overwhelming. In those moments it is important to step back, breathe, and realize that perhaps our big problems aren’t so big. Perhaps, much of our stress and worry is arbitrarily and unnecessarily self-inflicted. Perhaps much of the discomfort we feel is more a product of outlook than of circumstance, in which case it is easy to dispel. Perhaps life is too short to spend so much time buried in artificial misery, and it would be better to smile a lot and laugh a lot and say nice things to sad people.
When I find myself in need of a change in perspective, certain lyrics tend to drift through my mind- wonderfully apathetic and reassuring lyrics, from songs of peaceful resignation. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites:
1) “I’m gonna live it’s alright, I’m gonna die it’s alright, it’s okay”
— Good Old War (That’s Some Dream)
This is the phrase I come back to most frequently. It’s the chorus to a beautiful and soothing acoustic song by Good Old War, which, for me, has an incredible ability to shrink all of life’s problems down small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. This might be my favorite lyric of all time, man, just give it some time to sink in.
2) “Take a step before running, take a breath now before you die”
–The Black Keys (All You Ever Wanted)
This line comes from another great song, “All You Ever Wanted,” which I find to be smooth, steady, and inviting. While the label “songs of peaceful recognition” may not accurately capture the essence of the song, it certainly does for this line- so casually incisive- which always jumps out at me, and offers a similar effect to the Good Old War lyric.
3) “It’s the end of the world as we know it… And I feel fine”
–R.E.M. (It’s The End Of The World)
This is a pretty obvious choice for songs of peaceful recognition. It boldly states: the world is ending, and I don’t care. The song itself is not very soothing, its actually quite stressful…So don’t listen to it if you’re stressed! But, you might want to let this one line drift into your mind. It’s a great rephrasing of the central idea of this blog post: Whatever happens, happens. Not everything is in your control. Too much worry is counterproductive. Breath, laugh, listen.
4) “I know the rent is in arrears, the dog has not been fed in years, it’s even worse than it appears but, it’s all right”
–Grateful Dead (Touch of Grey)
This is one of my all-time favorite songs. The awesome lyric above, together with the other lyrics in this song, seems to produce a message of acceptance and resignation. Things are bad but it’s okay. Actually, things are worse than we thought, but that’s okay. This wonderful message is affirmed by the chorus which rings: “I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.”
So there you go– a few great song snippets that often help me take a step back and feel alright. My suggestion to turn to ‘songs of peaceful resignation’ in times of stress and worry is not meant to instill a sense nihilistic emptiness; I don’t wish to argue that nothing matters so you don’t need to worry about anything.
I simply want to say that it’s easy to get caught up in the motions of daily life and lose sight of what really matters. And that’s no good. There’s too many real problems in the world for people to spend so much time worrying about the frivolous ones. We all need a change in perspective sometimes, and for me, songs of peaceful resignation tend to do the trick.