I was driving northeast in the beginnings of a blizzard to my brother’s wedding. It was 3:30 pm, so the outside was darkening already, and I was alone in the car, save for June Bug. And save for Regina Spektor, and her new album, Remember Us to Life. Everything felt significant, that night, that weekend.

The ninth song on the album is called Obsolete. It’s slow, sad, soft:

This is how I feel right now
Obsolete manuscript
No one reads and no one needs
Pages lost, incomplete
No one knows what it means

I listened to this song over and over, swirls of snow obscuring my vision, Junie curled up to my right, a warm cabin beckoning with two of my favorite people cozied up by the wood stove, hidden from the world in a dark spruce forest, burnt up several summers ago, now blanketed in thick, thick snow.

This song became the constant mind hum of my weekend. Its melody and velvety, pulsing piano rode the waves of my mind as I soaked in the hot springs with my girlfriends, as I witnessed the marriage of my brother and Lilly, as I slept outside in the blowing snow, as I skiied in the empty burnt snowy forest, as I ate Alaskan blueberry pie over a card game right before midnight on New Years Eve.

Minds grow dark, so suddenly
I was lost on your street
Hey I’m talking to myself
I can hear you listening in
To my thoughts, to my dreams
What I want, can’t compete
Obsolete

It’s difficult to say why this song felt so important this weekend, why I was so struck by it. I’ve been turning the lyrics over and over in my mind, searching for connections with what I was experiencing at the cabin.

Take me to the water’s edge
Let me stand in the sand
Let me hear the waves crash-land

Useless part
This useless heart
Useless art
What am I? why am I
Incomplete?
Obsolete

Although I’m still searching for the meaning, I’d like to share my best guess with you. We go through each year with a myriad of yearnings, fears, celebrations, tiny challenges, significant accomplishments, adventures, disappointments. We strive so ardently for happiness and fulfillment. We connect with some and lose touch with others. Endless experience. Yet, in the end, the year ends. The entirety of what we’re left with over the first breath of the new year is exactly where we are at that moment. The old year, in effect, is obsolete.

Standing by the bonfire at midnight, I felt a budding desire to examination myself anew, to look at this idea of “What am I? Why am I incomplete?”, questions that so many of us ponder. This dichotomy of feeling a genuine self-significance while at the same time knowing that our lives are due to end, our time in this body and mind is finite, and that one day, far in the future, we will be completely obsolete.

This is how it feels right now
Obsolete manuscript
No one reads, no one needs
Useless part
This useless heart
Useless art
What am I? why am I
Incomplete?
Obsolete
All I want
Can’t compete
All I want
Is a sleep
All I want
Incomplete
All I want
Obsolete

It may have been the dark and stormy night that I was hurtling through, it may have been the wedding of my baby brother, it may have been the stark beautiful loneliness of that burnt up spruce forest, but I believe all the deep emotions I felt while listening were inspired directly from Regina’s magic. Happy New Year.

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