Dan Recommends: “Mad World” by Tears for Fears

You may wake up one morning and wish you hadn’t. You may turn over in bed, check the time, and try to will more minutes into existence between 7:30 and 7:45. You may consider calling in sick, knowing you have the privilege of a job that lets you do so, knowing that a headache and sleep deprivation are perfectly adequate reasons to take the day, never-mind the fact they’ll subside after another two hours’ sleep. You may deem sleeping a little longer and arriving to work late — ten minutes at most — a good compromise.

You may finally get out of bed, finally put on some clothes, and finally brush your teeth. You may finally leave your apartment, forgetting your lunch in the fridge again, and you may finally walk to the train. You may finally put on your headphones and finally hear something other than the blood in your ears.

You may then encounter a song you’ve heard before, but it may now stand out differently; its electronic drums and droning synthesizers now perfectly underscore your every move, as you descend the station steps, swipe through the turnstile, and make it to the train in time to squeeze through the closing doors. You may feel a catch in your throat as the singer moans, “going nowhere, going nowhere.”

You may involuntarily suspend the ironic, self-conscious detachment you’ve constructed between yourself and the song’s refrain, and for once just listen:

I find it kind of funny

I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I’m dying

Are the best I’ve ever had

You may be startled, remembering you’ve had dreams like this.

You may not be quite as histrionic as the song, yet the images that flash before you remain potent: the way your own birthday can be the most disappointing day of the year; schoolyard ostracization, where not even the teacher seems to see you; seeming to be stuck in an infinite loop.

You may find yourself completely devastated a mere three-and-a-half minutes into your commute, by a song you’d previously written off as kitsch.

You may turn around, go home, go back to bed. You may close your eyes and take a moment to thank the stars you’re not the only person who has felt or will feel like this.

It’s up to you.

(Song recommendation by D.R. Baker)

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