Quinn came to visit Grand Rapids back in late June/early July. The primary purpose for his visit was to attend a nearby wedding that many of us from Cedarville were going to, but the plans quickly grew from a casual weekend jaunt into a fully fledged 10-day trip. I had no complaints about this evolution.
During one of those particularly sunny, lazy Saturdays, I found myself hanging out with Quinn and Shanna on a blanket in the nearby Riverside park. Armed with snacks, bluetooth speakers, a pre-meditated soundtrack, and good dispositions, we made a day of it near the river. Occasionally I’ll wish for the ability to perfectly freeze a moment and bottle it up for later use, and I wished for that several times that day.
I always recommend keeping a couple of good people in your pocket that will effortlessly improvise ideas with you. We laid there on the blanket jamming to Radiohead and Mutemath while comparing notes on the abstract shapes of the clouds. For some reason, it seemed like a good time for me to debut an idea that had only begun to take its own abstract shape in my head; Pod Theory.
Pod Theory: The idea that there is a limit to how well we can know anyone, and conversely, a limit to how well anyone can know us. We can grow closer and closer to others; terribly close. But at a certain point, we are limited to the confines of our own pods. We can only be understood so well.
I have some very vivid illustrations of this idea in my head. I sometimes desperately wish that I had any sort of ability to draw, but it’s just not in the cards for me. So for now, those visualizations will have to remain in my head.
I think the idea of Pod Theory is both freeing and saddening. It’s freeing because it reminds me that, to an extent, my ability to know someone and be known is out of my hands to a degree. It’s saddening to acknowledge that there are limits to how fulfilling a human relationship can be. But either way, to me it signals a desire that proves to be as ubiquitous as it is innate; the desire to be known fully. The desire to be known seems to be one of those things that is embedded into the codes that explain human behavior. If you look for it, you can detect that theme hiding (or not hiding) in the roots of so much music. I would actually argue that it lies within the roots of most music.
How many songs are out there about unrequited love? There’s nothing quite as cathartic as reveling in the vulnerable pain of someone else’s unrequited love song. Have you ever listened to John Mayer’s The Search for Everything after a breakup? You’ll feel like the guy lived next door to you for the last 20+ years. However, peel away the layers, and you’ll find that underneath, songs about unrequited love are really about an unfulfilled desire to be known by someone else. They’re about feeling too inadequate to warrant someone else’s attention. to who you are.
This brings me to Super Far, a track from the relatively fresh pop group LANY. I kind of hate that I like this music, but help me if this album isn’t catchy. Their self-titled debut LP explores the full range of emotion that accompanies love; from the sublime to the crushing.
// Can you show me that you care? //
Super Far falls towards crushing. The singer expresses the frustration he has when he invests deeply unto someone and she leaves him hanging. It’s a decidedly lopsided relationship. He gives her all the affection he can afford and sadly waits as it remains unreturned. Ultimately he realizes that the love he’s seeking in his partner may not actually exist; that it may be merely the product of his own idealization. When I listen to this song, I listen to someone who is struggling to accept the uncomfortable truths of Pod Theory.
// If this is love, I don’t want it //