On my way to an Indian takeout spot in San Francisco’s financial district, I overhear an older man talking on the phone as he crosses the street. He’s wearing baggy dress pants that flap around his ankles with every step. His head is down and he’s preoccupied with the phone pressed up against his ear, talking loudly about frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s.
“They’ve got enchiladas and burritos and Indian food. Lily and I put one in the microwave when we’re too tired to cook dinner.”
The man shuffles across the street and turns right. I go left. And for some reason the conversation depresses me. This short man in his baggy pants talking about frozen dinners and being too lazy to boil water or grill a hot dog, sticks with me for the rest of the day and I can’t shake it.
Everything you ever sense, in touch or taste or sight or even thought, has an affect on you that’s greater than zero.” says David Gregory Robert’s in his novel, Shantaram.
Our perceptions shape our understanding of reality – that’s brilliant insight. And it explains why I felt so affected by the lazy man on Market St.
I return to my desk and look for a spark – something to jump start my day. Music! But it’s no guarantee. The first few songs wash over me and become a means of distraction to block out water cooler banter. But suddenly a lightning rod strikes – a song with chord progressions, a steady beat and lyrics that shoot down to my very core and paint new life in the contours of a bland week day.
Originally I wrote Washed Out’s sound as too idealistic, too drenched in shimmery synths and gliding guitars to be taken seriously. A song from their album Paracosm comes on…
Even though that we’re far apart / We’ve come so close and it feels so right. I don’t give up.”
At first I wanna yell bullshit! You should give up! You’re gonna end terribly and no amount of musical refrains or synthesized keyboard chord progressions can convince me otherwise. But that’s the lazy old man’s skepticism.
So I give in.
And halfway through the song, I’m a goner – completely immersed in Washed Out’s idealistic pull, doing a little two-step on my way back from work.