I don’t listen to music as much as I used to, say, three years ago, but I still happen to enjoy it when it’s on in the car or when I’m writing an article.
Last Friday, while working from home, I was playing music by Kanye West. He’s my favorite artist and has been for some time, even before the internet came for him with pitchforks (and in some cases, rightly so). In fact, I enjoy Kanye’s music so much, I got his 808s & Heartbreaks album cover tattooed on my right arm, just below another tattoo I have of a cancer ribbon.
The reason I got that tattoo was simple: the album meant a lot to me, especially in a time of great trial in my life. When I was sick with cancer five years ago, I would sit in my hospital bed listening to Kanye, mainly that 808s album and some of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which is probably the greatest rap album of all-time, in my opinion.
There was a song on 808s and Heartbreaks that really hit me back then and shifted my perspective on life — “Street Lights” by Kanye West.
“Seems like street lights glowing happen to be just like moments passing in front of me,” Kanye raps. “So I hopped in the cab and I paid my fare. See I know my destination, but I’m just not there.”
It seems to me Kanye was rapping about how fast life moves, and not being able to stop and appreciate the moment or the people around you. It seems like he had a goal in mind, and he forgot all else around him but that. You see, before this song came out, he had just broken up with his fiancé, someone he was with for six years — and his mom had also died from complications during plastic surgery. I have no doubt these lyrics had immense meaning to him and how he felt.
At the time, I was battling cancer, listening to these lyrics with an open heart and mind and I began to realize even at that age I didn’t stop to appreciate those supporting me or the moments of happiness that I had encountered. Listening to this song put things into perspective, and it made me want to soak up all the love surrounding me.
Growing up, I was always an anxious kid — and I still am today. It’s just who I am. Now that I have a career, I’ve definitely gone off the rails a bit and have forgotten to stop and appreciate, while also constantly being stressed.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful. I just get so caught up in the journey upwards that I forget to stop and take a breath, or stop and tell those supporting me “thank you” or “I love you." It’s something we should all do more of, especially in this world of social media we live in where things move at light speed.
Sure, things need to get done and progress needs to be made in all aspects of life but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the moment. Go tell you mom, dad, brother or sister — or all of them — you love them. Go for that walk with your dog and throw him/her the tennis ball.
Give grandma a call and check in on her. Read that book you’ve been putting off. Hug your partner and let them know how much you appreciate their support.
I know this pandemic has been hard on all of us, especially from a mental standpoint. So that’s why I am writing this. I know living in the moment, appreciating the little things and the big things, can help alleviate that pain and anxiety.
Honestly, do anything that makes you feel like you’re living in the moment because those moments won’t last forever – only in memory. If those glowing street lights happen to be like moments passing in front of you, then it’s time to change your perspective if even for a moment.
Life doesn’t last forever. Try to enjoy the small moments – and the big ones, too.