Monday, December 13, 2010

One little phrase

The Responsibility Project

I watched this video last week when there was a link posted to it on Facebook. Most of the time I end up following one of these links, I have to admit I skip through it, jumping over most of the talking, so that I can hear the music. This one didn’t have any whole songs in it, and most of the music was background for the talking, so I listened, and I’m glad I did, if only for one line pretty early on:

"If you're very lucky, you get one little phrase that gets into a consciousness, and somebody else down the line will hear it and it will help them to understand their lives at a certain moment."

I guess that’s the point of all art. We listen to music, read stories and poems, view paintings and films, and sometimes it speaks to us in some way. It helps us to understand something. But I liked the way he said it, and hearing it made me think of the songs and stories that have touched me in that way. There are songs I have listened to over and over for just a single line in them that meant something to me, and others where it’s not any specific lyric that’s important to me, exactly, but the whole feel of the song. There are stories that immediately have gripped me, that I’ve related to, and others that I’ve come back to reread years later, when I remember that there’s something in them that might be important to me. Sometimes it’s an entire novel, sometimes it’s a stanza in a poem. One time I picked up a book I had read once before and flipped through it until I came to a passage on the lower half of the right-hand page, where I had somehow remembered it was. I suppose it had stood out to me the first time through, given that I knew where to find it, but it wasn’t until a year later that I needed that passage, that it connected to my own life. And there are a dozen other things I can think of: a painting in a museum, a picture on a photoblog, a handful of books, poems I’ve copied into journals, songs I’ve listened to over and over, waiting for that one important line, that expresses exactly what I need to hear at that moment.

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