You know those extremely annoying people who are never satisfied and constantly identifying areas for improvement? Yes… Hi, there! Hello. My hypothetical children are extremely relieved to find out that I am self-aware enough to determine we’re better off without each other and that I paid attention when my gynecologist talked to me about birth control options.
I’ve been complaining a lot lately; a lot of people in my life have been complaining a lot lately; we’ve been complaining a lot about complaining lately…
The thing about complaining is that complaining only serves to mire you deeper in the steaming mass of excrement that made you complain in the first place. (I think this is called wallowing. When I hear wallow I think pigs and mud. Enough said.)
So, I have decided that if I am going to complain, I can only justify subjecting my friends to a mud bath if I do something about my complaint.
One of these “latelies” has been the universal “I didn’t do this thing I should have done and now I feel like a waste of life at twentysomething” complaint. I didn’t study music more passionately; I didn’t read more widely; I didn’t get involved in this or this or that; I didn’t make enough effort to find new friends; I didn’t… the list goes on. (The list also includes not knowing enough about wine. I give you this aside to let you know that I am well aware of my own pretensions. Hell, I finished Tolstoy just to say I’d done it and read the New Yorker cover-to-cover each week. Judge accordingly.)
Specifically, I feel like I don’t know enough about the opera despite pretending to know about opera because, well, people expect me to know about opera. Admittedly, I did see La traviata in Prague and it was phenomenal and without doubt one of the best decisions I made during study abroad. But that was only my second live opera. The first, a whole four years earlier, was an English translation and modernization of the first epic in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. I thought for years after that I didn’t like opera (dude invented the horned helmet and two yellow braids stereotype, for reference).
Still, I haven’t seen any live operas since Prague, 2010.
Solution: Listen to operas on Spotify at work. (Multitasking – the siren call of my generation!)
Because, you know what? I am still in the first quarter century of my life and there is still time to learn and grow and everything does not have to have been accomplished yesterday.
I may not have time to spend hours and hours devoting myself to the study of opera, and I may wish that I had taken more music appreciation courses in college, but I don’t and I didn’t. I may not be able to change the latter, but I can certainly change the former. Starting today. I spend eight hours a day plugged into a computer, and most of that time is spent mindlessly listening to music because it helps me concentrate. Why not make that mindless listening productive? If I particularly like a song or an opera or a composer, I’ll know where to start if/when I ever find the time to do a little more in-depth research.
Complaint? Justified AND vanquished.
What have you been complaining about lately?
Today’s opera: Bizet’s Carmen. (Maria Callas, you are a goddess. Sorry that Ari Onassis married Jakie and you died alone in Paris.)