One of the songs I chose for my wedding was “Once There Was a Hushpuppy” from the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild. This is a film that came out in 2012 about a young girl and her father dealing with the aftermath of floods in the Louisiana Bayou (that is a very simplistic summary. I recommend you check it out for yourself).
Anyway, this song is one of my favorite instrumental pieces. It makes me think of wild, untamed landscapes. I could listen to it while standing at the edge of cliff in Ireland, while the wind whips my hair around my head. I could listen to it while coming to the top of a mountain at sunrise.
Music like this stirs something in me. It creates stories in my mind of adventures I could be having. Through this music, Hypothetical Sarah drops everything and travels to India or Africa. She doesn’t care about due dates or rent. And heaven forbid she thinks about student loans. Hypothetical Sarah lives a glorious, travel-filled life, packed with adventure and spontaneity—one that grossly contrasts my life now. Because I do need to think about due dates and rent and student loans. My brain just can’t seem to find the balance between mundane life and fulfillment. My tendency is to focus on the former, and in all my spare time not thinking about debts and bills and teaching, I’m so exhausted that the last thing I want to do is go out and—as they say—live it up.
The beasts in my life are not external. There are no monsters that I have to defeat. There is no dragon standing in my way, blocking my path. There is only me. There is only my laziness, my dependence on comfort and convenience, my practice of inaction. There is a reason that I have a hard time remembering what I do during weeknights—they all seem to blend together in a haze of snacks, Facebook, Bubble Shooter, and Netflix. I am my own beast, blocking my way and not allowing for some sort of reconciliation between Hypothetical Sarah and Actual Sarah.
So when I listen to music like this, it dredges up these primal desires for something other than monotony. It is a six-minute window of opportunity, an open hand beckoning me to close the laptop and live in such a way that could make this music a soundtrack for my life.
Do yourself and favor and listen for yourself.
A born-and-and-raised Grand Rapidian, Sarah (’12) is now a seventh grade language arts teacher in the Seattle area. She has been living there since the summer of 2015 with her music teacher husband, Mike. She loves reading, watching Netflix, playing games, watercolor, and walking at the off-leash dog park (even though she does not have a dog).
I haven’t seen the movie, but I come back to the soundtrack again and again. Now, I think I know why.