December 27, 2007

Music is my Christmas

"My head is like some ridiculous barn packed full of stuff I want to write about," she said. "Images, scenes, snatches of words… in my mind they're all glowing, all alive. Write! They shout at me. A great new story is about to be born - I can feel it. It'll transport me to some brand-new place. Problem is, once I sit at my desk, and put them all down on paper, I realize something vital is missing. It doesn't crystallize - no crystals, just pebbles. And I'm not transported anywhere."
--Sputnik Sweetheart, p.16

Yesterday I started reading Haruki Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart. The frustration described above by the book's character Sumire must be a familiar one to anyone who's tried to put words or feelings to paper, I think. Even with something as basically simple as writing a weblog, often a brilliant idea comes out as a very mediocre succession of words.

I tried to post about the conflicting feelings that over the last couple of years have become so familliar to me around Christmas time. Don't get me wrong: I like Christmas. But right next to all the happy coziness there's a prominent place for loneliness, bittersweet memories, missing people dead or far away, and that mysteriously nagging feeling of guilt and/or shame. It's a sort of anxiety that doesn't really stand in the way of good times, but just sort of sits there, lurking in the back of my mind.

Family, colleagues, friends and even strangers often give me the impression that to them Christmas really is that magical thing you see in movies. For a little while, they are transported to a world full of beautiful, if somewhat naive spontaneous love, friendship and peace.

Me, I do like being with my family. I like the food, the lights.

It doesn't crystallize - no crystals, just pebbles. And I'm not transported anywhere.

It was only when I got back home late last night, alone, turned on my stereo and loudly played The Magnetic Fields' 100,000 Fireflies that I could experience beauty without reservations and feel completely comforted. For about 3 minutes and 20 seconds, finally also to me, everything suddenly seemed possible.

For that one person in a thousand that doesn't have it yet

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