I am six days away from my 25th birthday; therefore, I will soon be celebrating my first quarter-century on this earth. With my penchant for any number that is a multiple of 5 and my tendency to extract some great meaning or lesson from every potentially important day, is it any wonder that I’m experiencing some sort of quarter-century crisis?
By crisis, I mean those lingering questions: am I the person I want to be? By now, my moral character and personality are pretty unchangeable, I think. Do I have fatal flaws that will doom me in the future? Have I accomplished enough? Am I reaching my potential?
These are ridiculous questions. The logical part of my mind (small though it may be) understands that I’m probably ahead of the curve compared to even my own expectations. After all, just this past year, I was hired to teach college freshmen just two months after I turned 24 years old. I’m well on my way to earning a Master’s degree in English. I’ve begun traveling much more often than usual. I’ve lived on my own and managed to pay rent, bills, and necessities for three years now.
Still, the questions remain. I have a List full of unaccomplished goals (but, as I keep adding to the List faster than I can accomplish those goals, I realize that the List will always be lengthy). I am single, and many former close friends are married and raising families, making me wonder if I’m missing out on that important aspect of life. (Don’t lecture me in the comments, folks. I love my life, and I’m not ready for a family just yet. But a girl wonders sometimes.)
In light of all these emerging questions and my impending 25th birthday, I’ve found myself listening to a certain playlist on my iPod recently. I’ve got dozens of fun playlists filled with great music, but this one is special, and it’s not one that I play for others often. It’s one that I just call “The List,” one that corresponds to The List of Things to Do Before I Die. I save this list for the moments when I let my mind wander through those questions, when I think about all I want to accomplish in the next quarter-century of my life, when I let myself reflect on those desires and goals that I truly have: not the ones others have for me, but those times when I ask myself what I truly want. It’s essentially a carpe diem playlist. And I thought I’d post it on here. Don’t be surprised by how often Switchfoot shows up.
1. “I Am,” Train, from their self-titled debut album.
This one is the opening track because the song seems to be about a list of unaccomplished goals:
“I never been on a railroad / So many times they pass me by / I never crashed in the desert or seen a rodeo / Don’t know much about the world wars or Vietnam / I’ve yet to read about Uncle Tom / Never climbed a real rock or seen Colorado / Am I the son I think I am? / Am I the friend I think I am? / Am I the man I think I want to be?”
2. “Let It Be,” The Beatles.
Because, really, who doesn’t need a reminder not to worry so much?
“When I find myself in times of trouble / Mother Mary comes to me / Speaking words of wisdom / Let it be”
3. “Burn Out Bright,” Switchfoot, from Oh! Gravity.
Sort of a cautionary tale against an average life:
“Does it have to start with a broken heart? / Broken dreams and bleeding parts / We were young, and the world was clear / But young ambition disappears / I swore it would never come to this / The average, the obvious / I’m still discontented down here / I’m still discontented / If we’ve only got one try / If we’ve only got one life / If time was never on our side / Then before I die, I want to burn out bright”
4. “Bullet Soul,” Switchfoot, from Hello Hurricane
“I wanna sing one for all the dreamers / I’m singing this one for the sparks / Here’s one for the friction makers / We are the bleeding hearts / Don’t care whoever you are / We rise and fall together / Our hearts still beat below / Oh, you can’t stand by forever / You’re a kid with a bullet soul / Are you ready to go?”
5. “Without Reason,” The Fray, from Reason EP.
Sometimes, a little spontaneity helps:
“I do it on a whim / It’s rhyme without reason / Whatever comes to mind, I’ll pull it from thin air / I’ve learned to improvise, to fill my time / I don’t want to live this life without reason”
6. “This is Your Life,” Switchfoot, from The Beautiful Letdown
Essentially, the most important song on the playlist…and one of my all-time faves.
“This is your life / Are you who you wanna be? / This is your life / Is it everything you dreamed that it would be / When the world was younger and you had everything to lose?”
7. “On the Bus,” Evan and Jaron, from Evan and Jaron.
Probably the first song I claimed as one that inspired me to simply live.
“Never say never / And don’t wait forever / It’s the perfect time to see that now is the time / To take a chance, take a shot, take control of the situation / I can’t stand around here telling you / About the things I’ve done and what I’ve gotta do / So are you on the bus or not? / ‘Cause we’re leaving the station.”
8. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Journey.
Everyone’s favorite anthem. Plus, it’s about a small town girl. Also, do I really need to quote the lyrics? 🙂
9. “Up Around the Bend,” Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Exciting things happen around the next bend in the road. Just ask CCR:
“There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’ / Just as fast as my feet can fly / Come away, come away, if you’re goin’ / Leave the sinking ship behind / Come on the risin’ wind / We’re goin’ up around the bend”
10. “Butterflies & Hurricanes,” Muse, from Absolution.
Seriously, I should wake up to this song every morning. It’s an epic anthem:
“Best / You’ve got to be the best / You’ve got to change the world / And use this chance to be heard / Your time is now”
11. “The Journey,” Dolores O’Riordan.
I found this one a Paste sampler last summer, and it’s a perfect closing track for the playlist!
“When I was lost / I saw you pointing toward the sun / I know I am not the only one standing here / And in the darkness, I was walking through the night / I could see your guiding light very clear / This is your life / This is your moment”