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“Your Life is Now”

Posted by purplemary54 on February 20, 2012

When I think about music I find inspiring, I don’t generally think about John Mellencamp.  But “Your Life is Now” has always struck a chord with me.  It’s from the eponymous disc he released in 1998, sort of mid-career, I guess.  He’s feeling his age a little bit on this one, but still not taking it any easier.  This particular song is pretty average for him, with nice country rock playing (including a fine fiddle) and the same kind of “it’s my world and y’all are just livin’ in it” attitude that Mellencamp excels at.  Although for him, this is positively mellow.  The general message is like John Hiatt’s “Slow Turning”: This is the only life you’ve got.  Live it.

Zen Buddhism (how’s that for a segue?) holds the principle that time is an illusion.  There is no past, no future, only now.  Part of the point of this idea is to drag people away from meaningless suffering over a past they can’t change and future they have no control over.  Live in the now, because that is all that exists.  It is liberating to look at the universe this way.  That’s the feeling I get from this song.  “Your life is now.  In this undiscovered moment, lift your head up above the crowd.”  It is freeing in a way to “shake this world” and essentially re-create it.  Although that’s not quite it either.  Just shaking the world off implies leaving it and dumping everything for something new.  That’s not what he’s saying.

There are many people, some of whom I love dearly, who believe that life is just a series of compromises.  Compromised dreams, compromised principles, compromised relationships (okay, I’ll give them that one; you can’t have a healthy relationship without some give and take).  And to an extent, these people are correct.  But I think compromise might be the wrong word, because it implies a negative connotation.  “Do you believe you’re the victim of a great compromise?” Mellencamp asks, as if a compromise is something you make when you have no other choices, when you’ve been backed into a corner.  But that’s not the right way to look at it.  In the very next line, he sings “‘Cause I believe you change your mind and change our lives.”

It’s all in the attitude.  To look at you life as the disappointing results of previous actions is to be perpetually disappointed.  Even if you love how your life turned out, you’ll still always have that shadow of a doubt, that niggling feeling that somehow you didn’t live up to your potential.  But if you look at it as the opportunity to live a new life every single day, then there is no limit.

This is not always possible.  I have struggled with dreams and goals and a distinct lack of achievement all my life.  But I am finding that if I try to change my perspective just a little bit every day, then maybe I can change my life.  Maybe I can even change the world.

“This is your time here to do what you will do.”

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