On mix CDs and perspective

On Christmas Day, a friend of my parents’ dropped by for dinner leftovers after finishing up a long shift at the local CVS. She’d popped in for a bite to eat, I believe, and then disappeared with my mom and my step-dad to the front porch, while my sisters and I slumped on the couch to watch some romantic-comedy/action movie my little sister picked out because she didn’t particularly buy into my desire to watch “V for Vendetta.”

I’d had a lovely Christmas, but also a long one. I’d flown back to Texas from Missouri less than a week before, the interrupted environment and the back and forth to several family Christmases and the late night on Christmas Eve leaving me emotionally exhausted and prone to higher levels of anxiety.

Somewhere between playing a game of Temple Run 2 and half keeping up with the semi-predictable plot of my sister’s movie of choice, my parents’ friend wrangled all of us together to listen to a mix CD her son had pieced together of his playing the piano. The film was paused and all of us called to listen. I climbed off the couch and trudged over to the computer to listen more closely.

My parents’ friend pulled me to sit down on the floor next to her, insisting I listen closely and occasionally asking me what I thought.

“He’s pretty good,” I said. “I wish I could do any single thing that well.”

“Well, you’re a good writer.”

“I mean, yeah,” insert my imagined shrug here. “But I’m not that good. Besides, if I want to write well, I have to live longer, experience more, practice more. Good writing comes from good experience, and I don’t have that yet.”

“But you have a unique perspective. Has no one ever told you that?”

“I mean, I guess so. I’ve been told I’m a good writer, but I guess I’m always thinking in terms of how I want to be better, you know?”

“Yes, but you have a particular perspective that only you can offer as you are right now.”

“I guess you’re right. I forget that a lot.”

“I suppose we all do. You know, we have all these people who come into CVS to buy these cards that kids draw, you know what I’m talking about?”

“I think so. Are you talking about those cards drawn by kids who have cancer?”

The conversation wandered somewhere else after that, honestly I don’t quite remember what happened next except for getting up to make a bowl of popcorn and nodding along to the music.

But I was thinking about the cards. I’ve seen a few of them around the Christmas season over the past few years, and the thing about them is that they represent all levels of artistic ability, but the reason people are drawn to them isn’t because they were created by Picasso, but because they represent a perspective people care about and want to support.

I suppose there’s something to be said for perspective, that sometimes it has just as much to do with how good something is as the form and function. I get so caught up sometimes in the form and function and how I feel like (insert something here) isn’t good enough.

But I forget about perspective, that I’m never going to be the person I am right now ever again and that maybe, the person I am right now has something worth saying.


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