Watch this music video. It’s lovely. You may know the song.
If you don’t find that beautiful and moving, then either you’re dead inside, or I’m way more of a hippy than I give myself credit for.
(Or possibly your tastes in music and art just diverge substantially from mine. I suppose it needn’t be anything dramatic.)
What still strikes me about this video is how little happens in it, and what a disproportionate effect it has.
The music itself is rather lovely, and although I’m paying as little attention to the lyrics as I generally do, no doubt they’re also very sweet. But the video is wonderful, charming, delightful, inspiring, adorable, heartening. If you were ever inclined to doubt that world is capable of beauty and kindness, seeing this will put any such fears to rest in just a couple of minutes.
Which is odd, because all you’re seeing is some people you don’t know, sitting on a sofa, listening to a song on some headphones. Sometimes they smile at each other, enjoying a shared joke, or chuckling at the artificial nature of the situation. There’s the odd glance of recognition between them, perhaps after a particular lyric connects in some way. One person just sits and holds a framed photograph.
That’s all there is. It’s barely anything at all. It’s a simple, unremarkable series of snapshots of perfectly ordinary people doing something perfectly ordinary for a brief moment in their lives. And it’s one of the most moving things I can think of.
Which I think means that, somewhere, a small bunch of musicians and filmmakers have tapped into a staggeringly important and borderline magical power of the human mind.
Seriously. I mean, how can it not be? The world is fucking horrible, you guys. Terrible things that should make any sane person want to abandon this whole spinning space-rock and go live on an ice moon somewhere are happening every day, all over the place. Citation utterly superfluous. Pick any half-dozen comments at random from basically anywhere on the internet. Watch an American news channel for as long as you can stand. Learn a single fact about the international arms trade. Everything is so far from optimal it’s terrifying.
But then you can look at some people being people for a couple of minutes while a man plays guitar and sings a nice song, and it all seems okay.
Even a shared experience as small and easily attainable as this, is enough to make us feel connected. It lets us feel like those people we’re watching are happy and splendid and that everything’s alright because the world is full of happy splendid people just like them. (You have to assume that they’re listening to the same song that we are, anyway. It probably loses its impact a little if you turn the sound off and imagine they’re spacing out to some dubstep.)
My threshold for having my perspective shifted to allow me to see the world as a place of beauty and love and joy and potential and hope is phenomenally low. The littlest, simplest thing can remind me of so much good, and make me feel like it’s all so valuable and important and wonderful.
That sounds like a fucking superpower to me. And it’s made all the more powerful if, as I strongly suspect, billions of other people share it.
There’s a lot that goes on in the world which is horrible and frightening and sad. But it can’t truly be without hope, or beyond redemption, while it can so easily seem wonderful again.
Classroom discussion questions
1. Ugh. Just how much of a drip am I?
2. Yeah, but go watch that video again. I’m going to.
3. Life’s not so bad, eh?