By chance, I saw a three-minute short film titled “Recalling Coexist.” With pictures of cute polar bears as the backdrop, and a soothing indie song flowing in the background, the video was well-made with those two components supporting the main focus of the video, the profound words about “coexistence.” I was happily surprised to hear the background song, ‘First Day of My Life,’ by a Nebraska-based rock band Bright Eyes, since I hadn’t heard it in a while. The wavering voice of vocal Conor Oberst, well harmonized with the soft melody of an acoustic guitar, peculiarly comforts me.
The song itself is quite simple, and is even further enhanced by the heart-warming music video, which was directed by John Cameron Mitchell, the director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2000); it is a movie still loved by many. The music video is a beautifully depicted compilation of scenes of couples or families of different races sitting on the couch listening to and empathizing with the song. Young couples, a father and a daughter, same-sex couples, ordinary couples with a baby, a pregnant woman with a fetus in her womb, a widow with a picture of the deceased husband… Anyone could tell at a glance that these people cherish and love one another.
Whenever I watch this music video, it makes me think back to the special moments that happened at least once in my lifetime. Those moments that changed the whole of my perspective all at once overnight, as if it was ‘the first of my life’. The moments might have come along with the person I loved or some unexpected luck. There must have been moments when I felt such happiness would last forever; or I at least hoped it would. However, no matter how intense my love was, no matter how much happiness filled me, those moments never lasted forever. Therefore those moments actually prompted bigger regrets and feelings of bitterness.
Since that special moment is engraved in our minds, we dedicate our entire lives, more or less, to getting that happiness back in our hands. We resort to endless traveling, seeking out new and exciting experiences. Or on the other hand, if you are a person who has yet to experience that unforgettable, special moment, you might be waiting night and day for it to come. That is how badly we long for happiness, as expressed in the lyrics of this song, ‘I’m glad that I didn’t die before I met you’, ‘you’ being either a person or a thing that could make us happy.
Maybe this is why you feel bitter at the same time the music video warms your heart: it reminds you of the unrecovered happiness that once came to you and coldly left. You know, of that happiness ‘out of pocket’. But you also want to have happy smiles on your face like those in the music video. And you even feel curious whether they still live with that happiness portrayed in the video clip. In those mere three minutes, all kinds of thoughts go racing through your mind.
Is it truly our destiny to swing back and forth between the happy moments of the past and the happiness that has yet come, just like a pendulum to soothe our bitterness? We already know that the best moment, even though it might come again, is just transitory. It might be time for you to ask yourself: would it be worthwhile to bet my life on looking for the same happiness that was once present in my life that I cannot even show others? If the answer is ‘not really,’ you shouldn’t hesitate to change the destination on your life GPS before it’s too late. You should start seeking ‘the special way’ that will make every moment in your life ‘the first day of your life’, rather than ‘that special moment’ that will vanish anyway.