My wife and I went to the Roots ‘n Blues Festival over the weekend. We were pumped to watch The Avett Brothers. They have a song called January Wedding and we were married in January, so creatively, we, like everyone married in January in the last five years or so, played that song at our wedding. We were excited about the food too, and ended up consuming a large batch of kettle corn and some delicious Seoul Tacos. The food was great, the music good, and the weather sublime.
As I watched the family of four (dad, mom, and two young girls) in front of us dance and sing together like happy lunatics, it was hard to imagine life getting much better—the rhythm was there, I guess.
Then, as the night went on, the two young girls curled up in little balls on the family blanket, while the parents swayed together in the twilight.
This is the world as it was meant to be, I thought. Lovers swaying; children snoozing.
Then a college-age girl came striding through the crowd toward us, and the little family in front of us. She looked like she had had a bit too much to drink, as she stomped along. Then, too late, I noticed her footfalls were on a crash course with the family’s blanket. It should have slowed her trek—like a warning track in baseball—but it didn’t, and she stomped onward.
I rose. Again, too late. She stepped gracelessly on the snoozing younger girl’s hooded head, looked down, and then walked on, away from the now-sobbing youth. The child’s mother picked up and caressed her daughter, while the father woke the other child and gathered their things to leave. The band played on, the crowd sang along, but for them the music had stopped.
And such is life, I think. We can numb ourselves to some of the realities, but always somewhere a head is being stepped on, so to speak. It is a tough place—one of pain and tears. And no matter how sweet of music we surround ourselves with, no matter how delicious the popcorn, or how pure the sunset, stare at it long enough and your eyes will redden. Even the happiest lunatics know that gravelly reality.
But there is hope, and it isn’t in the numb places we escape to. Hope doesn’t push all the bad away or yell lyrics so as not to hear the hum of the underlying muck. But hope embraces the good and the bad, because it is willing to cling to the better.
I hope that better for you and for me.
I want to savor the good things, but I want to always remember the better ones. The ones that last and count and redeem. The ones that turn the bitter to sweet.