Lent is almost over, and I’ve done what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years or so: giving up music. (I also gave up caffeine, so if any of this post is incoherent, that’s why.) The ultimate goal of this annual Lenten sacrifice is to get myself to the point where I cease to listen to popular music at all. I did pretty well at that for about nine months last year, but the silence got to me, and I had to fill my head with something that wasn’t useless worries. Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say. So the music turned on and my brain turned off.
Anyway, as I’ve said on here before, the point of making small sacrifices for Lent is to train yourself to become more self-disciplined and to get more used to making sacrifices, so that if the opportunity to make a huge sacrifice comes, it will be second nature to be selfless. This may be a profoundly negative outlook on life (or maybe just a product of me reading far too many books about World War II), but I always think about what would happen in a pre-apocalyptic scenario where food and water are scarce and the world as we know it essentially shuts down because of a great war or natural disaster. Would I be able to sacrifice for the people I love (or even the people I dislike or just tolerate), or would I become bitter and angry over the loss of modern conveniences and necessities?
The other, less dramatic reason I give up music is because most popular music is, objectively speaking, garbage. Much of it talks about “love,” but it’s a manufactured, clean, processed, idealistic, happy-go-lucky, purely hormonal infatuation that makes no effort to get through hard times and does not last. Many “love” songs are about the honeymoon phase of a relationship, before reality sets in and both partners become visible for who they actually are. Young people mistakenly believe that infatuation is love and that the type of “love” that is portrayed in music and movies and TV shows is real and lasting.
I, being more sheltered and naïve than most teenagers, used to believe this. That if you loved a person, you would constantly be infatuated with them, that my relationships would never be like the “bland,” “stale,” unsmiling, everyday thing that exists between my parents or my friends’ parents. Music got into my head, and to this day, I believe that I subconsciously absorbed the message that love is superficial.
Now I think that love, more than anything, is perseverance. It’s getting up in the morning and choosing to love your partner. As the cliché goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes time and practice. Love involves sacrifice for the greater good of the relationship or for the greater good of the other person. It is hard to sacrifice when you have been single and done things your own way for many years, but one can train oneself in sacrifice. There is hope.