In college, I inadvertently took a bunch of classes where linguistics came up. We’d spent a lot of time discussing names: what they represent, what they miss and how false they are.
Even though the subject interested me, I realized pretty early on that such lines of thought were a black hole of reasoning: one could spend all their days thinking about the falseness of the word “tree” and be none the wiser for it. Better to call a tree a tree and just order lunch and move on.
But still, there is some difference between what a “tree” suggests and what a tree actually is. I was thinking about this difference in regards to myself. A lot of who I am is a result of who I wanted to be. In 10th grade, I decided I wanted to become well-read; I made a choice to read a lot. Am I different than someone well-read who didn’t have to make that resolution?
Last spring, I fell for “Scenic World” by Beirut. The lyrics resonated with how I was feeling about my life at the time. I decided then that six months hence, I wanted that song to evoke cold mornings in March, walking to the subway, feeling confused about my life. I listened to the song a lot that spring, in part because I liked it, but also because I wanted the song to represent that period in my life.
Tonight “Scenic World” came up on my iPod, and I was instantly transported to one of those mornings. My plan worked, but I can’t help feeling like I fooled myself.
I’m listening to “Scenic World” right now on repeat. In about eight months, when I hear it again, it’ll probably remind me of how obsessive and weird I thought I was for making it remind me of spring. Talk about meta memories.