Living to Remember

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

Play the above song. Just do it.

This is West Jordan High School Madrigals’ theme song, as it were. I sang this with 30 other students to send out the previous year’s Madrigals and reign us– the next year’s Madrigals– in. The year after us sang it to send us off and take our place. This piece reflects some sense of happiness, togetherness, and accomplishment that is slipping or has slipped away– slipped into memory.

This song is so perfectly fitting for the Madrigal theme song because it vocalizes the exact poignant feelings a couple dozen high school students will experience when given nine-ish months of tight-knit togetherness, creating musical beauty and giving it out to the world. I can think of several particular life experiences that are more or less universal to some extent and relate exactly the same way: growing up as a child, raising a child, growing together with a spouse, and, ultimately, one’s entire life.

When one finds himself entirely beyond his childhood, he will likely experience this song, Remember, in his heart, supposing his childhood was associated with happiness. When one finally sends his child out into the void of the world after raising her for eighteen to twenty years, he will likely feel this song, Remember, in his soul. When when holds the cold, dead hand of the woman he loved and served and for whom he sacrificed for decades, the only sane response, aside from wretched grief and longing, would be to cling to this song, Remember, with all that he has left. When one is about to turn out of his mortal existence into a higher, holier sphere, one would hope he would have lived a life worthy of hearing this song throughout his entire tired, dying being before his vision became clear and he moved on to the next and greater chapter of his eternal journey.

It’s a bittersweet song– a bittersweet feeling. The song Remember and others like it describe better than human speech can adequately express the feeling of joy for what once was as well as the feeling of sadness for what once was and truly can never be ever again.

I experienced this piece in my soul when our short term of being Madrigals came to an end. I experienced it when my buddy and I finally premiered a movie we had both made together over the course of several years. I experienced it when I said farewell to family, friends, and dog to serve an LDS mission for two years. I experienced it when I said farewell to friends and loved ones in Arizona each time I moved to another area. I experienced it when I said farewell to friends and loved ones as I boarded a plane, was flown home, and was released from my calling and charge to preach the Gospel. Other experiences in my life ended less abruptly but no less poignantly: I experience this feeling as I think of my innocent, carefree childhood days. I experience it as I remember the fun exploration I had with a few close friends in my adolescence. I experience it as I ponder some of the projects I created. These are the kind of memories a person really ought to live for.

When one cannot look back and perhaps blink away the water in his eyes or in his soul as he ponders his positive past, perhaps one cannot look forward with much hope for a positive future.

It’s all too easy– especially in this century– to drown in the mires of responsibilities, expectations, contentious debates, and, most of all, distractions. When floundering in these swamps, it is infinitely impossible to be able to cast one’s mind back and half-smile while pondering the joys of the past and the possibilities of the future. A person crawling through the mud of mordant mundanity or the beehive of  bureaucratic business  will almost certainly look back at points of his life only with regret and emptiness. If a person simply lives for the present, or to simply survive, or only for his or her self, one cannot feel the depth of simultaneous bittersweet goodbye and hello, nor can he or she thus grow much beyond his or her current mental and moral stature.

So we must search for things higher than ourselves, never settle for simply being busy or making money, and do something extravagant and extraordinary, even if nobody else knows or cares about it. Often the extravagant and extraordinary things done are right in under one’s nose, too.