It is a highly intriguing aspect of the career of the band Broken Bells that the two albums they have released have so far contained songs that described almost too perfectly the state of my life at the time. In 2010, the song was “The High Road,” dealing with a situation where the high road was definitely hard to find in a months-long series of wearisome arguments and debates that took a lot out of me . For the stage of life that I’m at in life right now, the song “Holding On For Life” represents the state of my life at this time, and that of others I happen to know as well. To be sure, this is not a stage of life that will last forever, but it is certainly a stage that has lasted far more than I really want it to.
I have been greatly struck by the fact that there are quite a few songs that deal with the difficulty of what to hide and what to show. We live in an age of very conflicting tendencies, and it is not exactly clear how this will work out. On the one hand, we have strong societal pulls towards honesty and candor of a degree that suggests our cynical and jaded mindset that seeks to dig up the dirt on anyone to show that there is nothing noble or glorious in our civilization. Even on trivial levels, the photos we tag about our partying, the freedom with which we express our personal lives and political opinions, and the way in which even the mundane places we go can become public record. On the other hand, we feel grave concern about the surveillance of government agencies and private companies on our posts and the way in which what is known or seen about us can lead to judgment and sometimes serious repercussions, even to the level of imprisonment for liking the wrong post by the wrong person.
There is a certain sort of intelligence and skill that goes in image management as well as in social decorum that is not always an easy or a straightforward matter. What is a benefit in some areas of life is a liability in other parts of life. Even if we are fairly well-rounded people, we will generally possess areas of imbalance that give us experiences of being able to serve as an example in some areas of life and also gives us the opportunity to learn in other areas of life. Our limits of time and attention and resources as well as the warp and woof of our native temperament give us all slightly different collections of talents as well as shortcomings, which all combine to make life exciting and interesting. This is not always an easy matter to deal with, but it helps make our lives more interconnected and gives us all both humility as well as a certain confidence and knowledge of our worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.
Since most of the difficulties in our lives revolve around areas of weakness, we may often be of the belief that our lives would be happier if those problems were dealt with. However, what would be the case is that we would have a different set of problems, because there will always be some aspect of life that is comparatively weak compared to others. An example of this would be in Sense & Sensibility where Willoughby chooses the wealthy dowry of one woman to solve his debt problems, leading him to act in a dishonorable and ungentlemanly fashion to the poor Marianne Dashwood. Yet had he chosen love over money, he would not have been solved of his problems, necessarily, but rather would have exchanged one set of problems for another. So it is often in life, as we solve one problem and find others in their stead. Let us do well enough at solving our problems so that we can move up in levels of responsibility as well as challenge, rather than simply going around the same problems over and over and over again.