I recently had the delight of dinner with my father, brother and nephew, we went to a very dive-y little place that served the best chicken fried chicken I’ve had as an adult.
I’m only telling you this because I know my brother doesn’t read this and I’ll be damned if he finds out that I appreciate his taste, let alone publicly! If you’re ever in VA Beach, let me know I’ll give you the name.
All that aside, there is a life lesson that I’m here to teach you so read on!
After this delightful dinner my father, who I am more or less (definitely more) estranged from wept as I said my goodbyes. If you know me then you know I need a therapist and am not moved by displays of emotions. This weeping made me deeply uncomfortable so I told everyone about it.
A person who knows my father from the past burst into laughter when I told the story. Having known him for nearly 40 years (though not on friendly terms for half of those) they asked if I knew what my father’s favorite song was. I too also laughed— my father’s favorite song is Cats and the Cradle.
I laughed because if you know anything about the song you’d know that I just became the villain in a story about the hardships of being a father. I’m the ungrateful child he worked so hard to provide for.
It’s a brilliant strategy, picking a song and living it. It’s actually one, ironically, that I have employed myself*. There a few tricks to making this life plan work, so keep reading.
Firstly, you must start young. Harry Chapin releases Cats and the Cradle when my father was 10 years old, he was still obsessed with the song in high school, and I was aware of his love of this song from jump (only I thought Cat Stevens sang it, I guess it’s a cat thing…). That means that while the man was still in elementary school he was planning his future disappointment in me!
I didn’t find my song until right after I graduated college, but I’m a late bloomer in most social contexts, so cut me some slack. But I live my song everyday. I sometimes listen to it as a refresher while commuting to work.
Once you’ve picked a song, you must, as I alluded to, make it your personal anthem. It’s the song that plays while you enter the boxing ring of life, play it loud, even if it is mostly a low energy hippy dippy anthem. You owe it to yourself to make sure that everyone associates this one song with you, that if/when it plays on the radio people turn it up and go “So-and-so loves this song…” even if they’re just trying to figure out why.
If ever you end up on a path that diverges into a yellow wood, do not be sorry you cannot take both, stand firm in your song and follow the path that leads you deeper into it. Lean into the lyrics, they are your spirit guide.
There will be many things that will happen that will pull you away, much like the job and the airplane in my dad’s song, but you know you don’t have to literally live the song, it’s your spirit guide more than anything.
With any luck the song you live your life by will be played at your funeral, and all in attendance will smile and nod and finally understand.
Best of luck.
*My song is Time to Pretend by MGMT