"Jem picked up the candy box and threw it in the fire. He picked up the camelia, and when I went off to bed I saw him fingering the wide petals. Atticus was reading the paper." -Harper Lee
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It’s the simple things in life that matter. This tried and tested truism has been proven time and time again. Fictional motifs, true, and our own experiences have painted this so clearly that life’s canvas is overflowing. And yet why do we yearn for the complex? Family, love, community: they never seem to be quite enough. While sitting in my dorm this past week, chugging away at some calculus, Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I” shuffled onto my iHome. And, as the soothing music coaxed me through the stressful evening, life’s complexities deteriorated.
You and I (video) — Click on the link to watch!!
Michaelson’s hopeful melody is the epitome of blissful simplicity. The cool ukulele and light singing is reminiscent of friends enjoying each other’s company around a campfire. And as they sing in harmony, they reduce the world’s biggest problems to trifles. They sing of the perfect means of realizing happiness, “Let’s get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France. Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance. Let’s get rich and build a house on the mountains making everybody look like ants.”
Her deductive process is both astounding and thought-provoking. Her first proposal typifies the material definition of happiness: make enough money to buy a house in one of the most breathtaking regions of the world. However, Michaelson makes clear the point that it can be much less and more realistic. Simply looking down off a hill and feeling bigger can be fulfilling.
Ingrid Michaelson’s poetic music resonates from the mountaintops. The world passively deliberates on how best to solve issues such as world hunger and poverty. But, as rich countries argue over comparably trivial aspects, Michaelson counters that if she had the money, she would know what to do. She would supply a sweater for the shoulders and dance lessons for happiness.
Clearly, wool and wobbling is not in itself enough to change the world. But why do we deliberate on big projects and sums of money, and take so long that nothing happens? Wouldn’t love, support, and even acknowledgement be an equally effective first step until the details are ironed out? After all, it is the simple things in life that matter, and the simple things that matter in life. Isn’t it?
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