With the demise of both the local jazz and SF’s classical music stations, I’ve been adrift on my car stereo dial. I settled in to the area’s top 40 station and had forgotten what the music rotation on a station like that is. While in college I had done a stint on a top 40 rock station in Sacramento. The format on stations like these calls for the top 10 songs to get airplay every 60 minutes, the top 20 every 120 minutes.
That means I’ve been introduced to Lady Gaga’s new song, “I Was Born This Way.” Not only introduced but it’s been drilled into me over the past two weeks. Though, to me, there’s nothing remarkable about the song, I still find myself tapping my fingers to the song while driving. It’s an ingenious repetition of techno/disco beat that can’t help but mesmerize a person beyond the point of discretion.
The inevitable analysis followed. Why is the mind captivated by something you know you don’t care for? Or more directly, how easy it is to pick up cultural impressions without overtly subscribing to them! It’s one thing to tolerate Lady Gaga and yet another to be swept up into the rat race. I don’t know about you, but I find myself buying in on all sorts of levels to things I don’t really subscribe to. An insidious hijacking of personal identity.
Maybe that’s why we instinctively surround ourselves with people that see life mostly the way we do. It helps us assuage the hard task of thinking for ourselves, finding ourselves. But of course, that’s a trap as well as they reinforce other subtle influences on us including corporate fears, enemies and ambitions.
The closing Psalm of our Epiphany season, Psalm 99 reminds us of the privilege we have to privately commune with God and to subsequently hear from Him. As our Creator, He is really the only one who has our best interests at heart. When we really listen, he tells us how and why we were born. How and where we should go. Who and what makes our lives unique. The exercise can be transformative.