Recommended Listening Soundtrack: Cool Rock Boy by Juliana Hatfield
Who has found themselves laughing while watching the opening scene of one of the greatest satirical films ever made- (at least if you live in the US and have my mind) Office Space, while the dreaded commute to work is taking place and the ever so high-strung and very white character named “Michael Bolton” is ironically rapping away in his sedan? And then, as he sees a black man selling flowers on the street he actually shrinks into his seat, locks his car door, and turns down the music; only to turn it up again once he gains distance from the flower peddler. All you can do is LAUGH out loud at his absurdity. This is what I call a low point- a moment of strangely misplaced fear yielding the ultimate “uncool” goo, yet ever so funny for the audience.
Why is it so funny? Good question. I recently had my own experience of oozing “uncool” goo that might shed some light on the subject. As you might have noticed, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Yes, sticky sweet summer is here, and with it comes sticky sweet pop songs made to lure us in with their simple jangles about new love and ultimate love disasters.
And then, there was me. Driving home myself one early evening doing my typical dance with the radio. Changing the stations over and over again with high hopes that maybe it would deliver something cool. Suddenly I found myself drawn into one of this summer’s truly sticky sweet pop songs by Justin Timberlake titled “Not a Bad Thing.” I actually had it turned up (and it was not freedom rock), singing along in a trance induced by subtle brainwashing when I realized I had to stop at a light. Of course, there were 2 younger people on the corner. I found myself turning the music down to a nice quiet mute.
Yes, I found myself too ashamed to allow these unsuspecting “youths” know my dirty little secret. That I sometimes like cheesy pop music and even listen to it at elevated volume levels as I drive. Now, I am going to own my uncool and face my shame with you! I can’t help but laugh out loud at my own antics with drive-by music that is ironically titled “Not a Bad Thing.” But really, this whole musical shame episode is not really about music- it is about my own judgments and insecurities, and how I project them onto others.
Time to own my uncool.
Now, let’s face the music. As I have been laughing at myself for what I did, I have been thinking about why I can’t just enjoy music of any kind and not feel embarrassed for enjoying a certain pop song. I have to admit, there is a part of me that does not respect a lot of what the pop industry generates, but yet there is an internal battle I have difficulty ignoring. So how can I turn this perception about the pop industry into something with meaningful purpose, empty of my attachment to judgments?
We can relate this pop song dilemma to all aspects of our life. That is the magic of a perception conundrum. Without the attachment of our emotional drama, a perception is just a perception- and it can be rooted in negativity or positivity. But either way, they exist because we are humans having an ego experience. By focusing on our intention behind a perception we can see if it is limiting or not so limiting. My perceptions around the pop music industry are limiting because I limit my joy in life by judging myself for simply having fun with a song, even if it is sticky sweet.
How can I challenge myself to confront my judgment? The next time that Justin Timberlake song is playing on the airwaves, I’m going to turn it up, with my windows down and be that singing-out-loud person without a care for judgments, including my own! Maybe it really is “not a bad thing” to just let it go and have a little fun every once in a while!