What’s Going On

In memory of “Paula” for sharing pain, joy, and this song with me

Whenever I hear this song, I get an instant memory of Paula who played this song for me in my office one day. She strongly identified with the line “I scream at the top of
my lungs “what’s going on”- it was her tag line of the frustration with her life, her frustration with her lengthy to do list, her sense of being out of control.

Music does this. It evokes memory. Good times, bad times, happy times, sad times.
Think of a period of time in your life, there’s probably a song (or several) that are associated with that time. Think of something positive that happened in your life- wedding, graduation, or other life cycle event. Now think of the song that’s connected to it. That was pretty easy (and maybe fun). Now think of something painful, find that song……..
It’s the songs of our pain which are the ones we hear the loudest and the ones we grow from.

As we head towards the holiday season, some songs will be hardest to hear. The music amplifies our pain. I have noted this in a prior post . We recognize that our tables may have empty seats, may not have the same chatter or laughter as in years past. It’s painful to recognize this after working through loss. These families will have a “bittersweet symphony” . That symphony has its expectations built in: “It’s the holidays and I should be happy, but I’m not”. It’s the sadness of the season that gets to us.

Some families however may have joy and laughter at their tables over this holiday season. There may be great changes since last year’s holidays. These families may reflect back on the miracles of the past year. Tables may have new members, or have new and improved relationships. The songs heard in these households will have a bounce and rhythm all their own. They are in the moment, not reflecting back on past or worrying about the future. They are enjoying what they have; they have the gratitude of the season.

Whether you are sitting at the “happy” table or the “sad” table, remember that you have a seat. You are at this table, and will experience your feelings. It’s part of how we change. For people like Paula, their holidays ended. “What’s going on” is an anthem of awareness, it’s a statement of “trying to get up that hill for a destination”. To Paula, thank you for giving me a lasting memory. I hope that all families experience their lasting memories during the holiday season.