A selection of articles from all our issues - go to 'The Magazine' to read them all, including exclusive interviews from Aston Barrett Jr., Niko Moon, Serena Ryder, Canaan Smith and many more...
“We’re all kicking, we’re all screaming, we’re all sleeping at the wheel, We’re all California dreamin, playing house and paying bills” “We’re all going through the motions, just following the script, If we don’t stop and smell the ocean, boys, we might just miss our ship”
On first glance, this seems to be a rather depressing and morose title - but don’t let that fool you. This is a three-minute audio-capsule of concentred inspiration to go out there and carpe the heck out of every last diem. The message of Jake Owen’s ruminative track is not a new one - it’s essentially aimed at making the listener realise that we don’t have anywhere near as much time as we think. Instagram is littered with motivational quotes telling us to ‘be in the moment’ and ‘live our best life’. Drake’s been warning us that ‘YOLO (You Only Live Once)’ since 2011.
“Every heart breaks, when the summer snapshot fades, Every teenage kiss ends way too soon”
But ‘Everybody Dies Young’ reminds me why David and I started Mindful Melody in the first place. We often see bits of wisdom for living a happy life online, and while they might impress us initially, by the time we’ve scrolled down onto the next hilarious New Girl clip, we’ve forgotten all about it. We’re bombarded with so much information that it’s difficult to discern and absorb what’s actually useful. Music, for me at least, is a much more effective, memorable and lasting way of transferring life lessons. It makes you really feel something, whether that’s through the power of storytelling or simply through the emotional weight of the song. We’ve all been told since we were at school how quickly life goes by, but even if we believed our teachers, it didn't really change our daily outlook. Everybody Dies Young’ forced me to just stop and re-evaluate things. I’ve always been terrified of death, but at least, as I’m 24, it’s so far felt like something lurking ominously on the horizon, rather than presenting any immediate threat. But Owen’s lyrics put an interesting spin on mortality.
“It don’t matter how long we’re here, it’s never gonna be long enough, It ain’t about the amount of years, it’s about the amount of love It don’t matter if you’re 18, 45 or 91, we’re all waiting for our moment in the sun, Everybody dies young”
Part of me has always liked to think that, when we’re about to die, we find some kind of inherent, intuitive peace and acceptance about that. But having recently lost two of my family members, it’s clear to me that this isn’t necessarily the case. Nobody is okay with dying, whether they’re 20, 50 or 90. When I was processing the loss of those loved ones, because the grief was an uncomfortable feeling, my solution was to constantly look ahead to happier things that I had planned in the future. This rippled throughout all areas of my life. For instance, if I was feeling miserable about work, then I’d set my sights firmly on the relief of the weekend, and that would bring me some comfort. Similarly, if there was a particular event coming up that I was excited about, I’d look forward to that to escape the discomfort of the present. But of course, this was counter-productive. Because I’d gotten into this habit of looking ahead, by the time the weekend came, my mind would already be feeling disgruntled at the prospect of Monday morning. I couldn’t even fully immerse myself in the events I’d been so looking forward to, because they’d be tinged by the sadness of knowing that, once they’d started, they’d soon come to an end.
“From the moment that we’re born, we start running out of sand, You can’t bargain with the mirror, you can’t ever fight the hands of Time flies by like the fourth of July sky, When the morning sun high fives the moon”
This forced me to appreciate a few things. On a personal note, praying and strengthening my relationship with God really, really helped me more than anything, but I know our readership isn’t necessarily religious, so I won’t focus on that in this article. I realised that happiness can never be found by looking ahead to the future - by the time that thing you’ve been looking forward to comes around, you’re mind will still be stuck in the future. ‘Everybody Dies Young’ really emphasises that for me - it says that the solution to being scared of death is not to run away from that fear. It’s to invite that fear into the present and sit with it. This links to a classic Buddhist meditative practice. While you’re meditating, uncomfortable thoughts, worries and anxieties might arise. But Buddhists underline that you should not try and push these away, as this only makes them stronger. Instead, you should acknowledge them, accept them, and then return your focus to your breathing. By embracing those fears and thoughts, it removes all the power from them.
“You only get one life, so you better live it, You only get one heart, so you better give it up”
In ‘Everybody Dies Young’, Jake Owen isn’t saying that we should pretend we’re all going to live forever in order to enjoy life. He’s saying the exact opposite - by openly looking the prospect of our own mortality straight in the eyes, we take away all of its power. We embrace the fact that we only have a limited time on earth, and this fear can then be transformed into motivation for making the most of the moments we do have. This song has become a touchstone for me for this life lesson, and gives me a much greater jolt to bring my mind back to the present than any Instagram quote could. My mind still runs away into the future, of course it does. But gradually, by embracing the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings we have, and by sitting with them, it makes you realise that they’re not as powerful as you thought they were. This makes it easier to be present and arrive into ourselves, because we’re no longer trying to run away from them into the future. As a wise wordsmith once said: “the present is a gift - that’s why they call it the present.” Press play on this song whenever you’re feeling like you can’t fully immerse yourself in the moment that’s right in front of you. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how old or young we are - all we get is this moment. Why waste it wishing on the future or dwelling on the past?
Buy print editions of Mindful Melody Issue 12 below!