On a particularly useless winter night almost two years ago, I set Dave Matthews’ “Christmas Song” on repeat, glued to the abrasively honest lyrics, “drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers, like you and me, searching for love.” Almost four and a half hours later, I gave my wheezing stereo and whirring CD a rest after forty-nine consecutive performances of that acoustic pronouncement of human psychology.
The cyclical tendency of life abounded that evening in a surprisingly tangible sense, finding me mouthing syllable after syllable in predictable succession. Yet, the truth of that event strikes me philosophically as the past invades every moment of the present: I believe in the endless loop of history, running in recognizable patterns, waiting to break.
Unlike others who may find the most appropriate examples of recurrence in fashion and music, I look to international relations and government, especially in times of revolution or conflict. If I were not such a social studies fanatic, perhaps I would not waste hours of every day wrecking the silent majority, testifying for my crimes at My Lai, marching from the Capitol to Arlington Cemetery, desecrating my relationships with political motives, or relating more to 1966 and 1976 than I do to 2006. Then, I watch news reels of insurgent warfare in Iraq, and I continue to question why America is on repeat.
History’s determined scowl makes these trends incredibly obvious, and this becomes the most terrifying when I consider how many times international leaders have disregarded the clues of the past. I yearn to seclude myself on an island where I can live barefoot and sleep in a hammock, paying no attention to the outside world. I scold myself when I remember that only an active electorate and participation in government can bridle history in such a way as to avoid the mistakes I mourn daily.
And Dave Matthews wails in the background, “everybody wake up if you’re living with your eyes closed.”