Thursday, October 14, 2004


I know that I promised to write about Jimmy Eat World...and I will but the writing exercises on this site have always been very instinctual and very reactive to the world around me. There is very little editing (occasional spell-check) and very little censoring. My only objective is to protect the anonymity of the people I know.

I received an email from a friend just the other day and she sounds pained. I feel awfully helpless. While I can control the way I feel, I cannot convince her to feel any better. Now, I truly believe in the potency of pop music. I have always been an advocate for listening to lyrics, no matter how trite they are and try to gain some understanding of ourselves from them. As a child, I was told that who is wise? He who learns from everyone.

While I was in the supermarket, Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter" played over the speakers. Don Henley, who coincidentally was my first concert, was never one of my favorites even at a time when I stood at the altar of Billy Joel and Elton John. Henley's voice was too raspy, too unrefined. Besides, I hated the Eagles--they flat-out irritated me. If I heard "Hotel California" one more, I would never check in even if it were the last hotel on earth. Although, if they had a nice spa...

I digress. "Heart of the Matter" with backing vocals by Bonnie Raitt (yes, it gets worse) is an important song because of the lesson it teaches us. It's encapsulates a very healthy perspective on heartbreak and the process of moving on. While looking through the fruit and vegetables aisle, I took notice of the words:

"I got the call today
That I didn't wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin' on the phone
She said you'd found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
and the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you"

Henley acknowledges man's or woman's worst fear; the ex moving on. It will happen and we are kidding ourselves into thinking it won't. In fact, it's better for our emotional health if we count on it. Moreover, we see that while the song's characters' relationship was not ideal, nevertheless, Henley believes that there is no such thing as something unworkable.

"I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again
I've been tryin' to get down
to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about...forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore"

With words like this, "Heart..." could even be an emo song. It's ok to move on in your life and still miss someone. This is a natural and normal reaction. In every aspect of our lives and in many capacities, we lose someone, whether it is a boyfriend, girlfriend, father, relative, etc. Missing someone is not a weakness, it's a strength. Henley comforts the listener by saying accessing your emotions is healthy. Denying them is not. The more he or she knows about the "other" or the more he or she tries to find out, the less easier it will be to embark on a new stage of his or her life. The words of this song that I admire most are the part when the Californian songwriter speaks of forgiveness. Yes, you were wronged. You are hurting but sometimes the high road will make you feel better. You are entitled to your anger but sometimes, you have to see that this has nothing to do with you or who you are. Forgiveness, my friend, is essential. It's a quality of yours that makes you a better person. I don't believe in forgiving and forgetting--remembering for the future and learning from the experience is why we take chances in life.

The ending verses are my favorite. Henley warns us about the world of cruel emotional detachment where many of the people we encounter build up walls and seek temporary comfort in the fleeting pleasures of physical intimacy. Moreover, these people also play games. I cannot even recall how many times friends have suggested that I stop being so expressive and communicative. In the past, I believed them and followed their advice but all that does is make you regret the things you never said. They say restrain yourself from revealing too much. While it's not in my nature to do so, I do see the perverse success of these games and thier emotionally-stunting strategies. I, for one, stand against this ever-popular trend. Henley tells us that the person you love one day will love you back unconditionally. There will be no time for games. See below for the hard-hitting line: "Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms."

"Ah...these times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined
and people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
Ah...the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They're the very things - we kill I guess...
Ohh pride and competition
cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us
you know it doesn't keep me warm
I'm learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby"


"Even if, even if, you don't love me anymore
There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby; cause' life goes on
If you keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside, baby
I've been trying to get down
to the heart of the matter"

And finally, Henley tells us to let go of the anger. It doesn't do you any good. In fact, "it'll [just] eat you up inside"' and the person you are angry with will never know about that feeling. The now-defunct Eagles drummer knows that you shouldn't allow anyone to affect you this way. Just get down to the heart of the matter. Specifically, your heart. Because ultimately its yours and its important to upkeep it. You will use it again in the future. I assure you. The heart of the matter is that you are amazing. And despite the way you feel right now, everything will be better.
I swear.

[Dedicated to those people I care about]


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