A love letter inspired by the body of works as produced by the band Passion Pit

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This is a love letter that can be seen addressed to a variety of forms. It is directed to one person and a collection of ideas. This is to the inner strength have to I tell myself that I have and to the friend that lets me sleep on their couch. It’s to those who give me mix playlists. It’s to the music and to the thoughts it gives me.

One of my favorite bands is Passion Pit not because I listen to them all the time or because I think they’re the best, but because their stories of emotional struggle and resilience are universal. It’s a story many people can relate to in their own perseverance. Passion Pit’s music largely deals with love, growth, and the mental health issues that the frontman, Michael Angelakos faces. An overwhelming amount of the songs are sonically upbeat and happy-sounding. Isn’t that true though? You have this inner sadness but you seem so happy to others.

Passion Pit has many loyal fans, fans that have been there from the beginning with Chunk of Change and the clangy, raw, powerful cut of “Sleepyhead.” The EP was actually a Valentine’s Day present that Angelakos made for his girlfriend at the time. The whole EP was him, tracks and vocals, but once the music gained traction, the band fell into place around him for the debut LP. Producing art, whatever form, is the greatest sense of happiness an artist, and especially one that has blue-tinted glasses on, can have. If an artist gives you part of their happiness, that is love.

The band came into themselves with Manners, a body of work like a book, an ode to the sweetness of the beginnings of things. A growing up version of love. It was an album that carried me into the last leg of my high school days. There was something else, however, besides the EP’s caring sentiment. There were songs like “Moth’s Wings” and “Swimming in the Flood.” These songs were boomy, base-driven. They were about how thoughts, like blocks, build and build to amount to our personalities. There wasn’t something wholly happy about the album, although the songs were mainly upbeat, dance-inducing. A little tug of intrigue that I didn’t think much about until their next album, Gossamer.

Gossamer came during the beginning of my sophomore year in college. Freshman year is a challenging time for everyone, I think. I don’t think there’s anyone in college that can say: “I dealt with no issues during the first year that I entered a new level of young adulthood.” There is a level of uncertainty that buzzes in your brain that whole first year. No wonder so many people turn to the party scene. I did and I was part of the culture solidly that second year.

I would listen to this album during my workouts at the gym the morning after the booming late-night rendezvous. I never turned down an evening, I liked the release.

Gossamer was a similar tone. Tracks that had a fast heartbeat and bubbly falsettos. If you listened closely to the words, there was doubt and self-defeatism embedded in the songs.

At these parties I told my friends my problems, my worries, the deep sludge of my thoughts about my self-image. The world was blurry at this point. It was a subconscious tactic to get away with saying what I felt. “Oh I was drunk, I didn’t mean it,” was my nasty little trick I played on myself and my friends. I wasn’t realizing the gravity of what I was doing since in the daylight I was happy and laughing with those same friends. So I carried on, living a normal college existence.

But listening to Gossamer was when I questioned myself. Gossamer was an album about a pain that I understood and I wasn’t really sure why.

A lot happened between Gossamer and Kindred. The albums are a contrast of each other. Gossamer is in the midst of struggling with denial and darkness whereas Kindred is looking up to the sky and wanting to be good to those you love and telling them you’re trying, you’re trying so hard. You didn’t used to have to work this hard.

I first listened to Kindred this year at the coffee shop I lived near in Syracuse. There were three weeks left of school. At this point in my life, I am learning to let go of denial about myself. I need to change how I act. The self-pity routine hurts people who love me and I can’t have that happen anymore. Thinking patterns are my nemesis. So is general anxiousness about everything.

I listened to this album when I was feeling peaceful, a low-glowing lamp that shone on my homework and a coffee by my side. I remember reading an article that day about how Angelakos made this album for his wife. It was about how much he loves her and how hard he is working on his issues with depression for her. It was about how she has helped him through so much.

When you listen to the album, Kindred is a love letter, as Chunk of Change is, but it is so much different. Chunk of Change is youth and learning what it’s like to express your beauty for someone. Kindred is commitment. Kindred is apologizing for the pain of the past to move forward. Kindred is looking at someone and letting them know where you’re at and how you are working hard for them. How you want to be healthy for them.

Sometimes I think of myself in this electrified cage. It’s a nasty electrical charge if you get too close. If you know me from afar, you can’t even see it. I laugh and I joke and I ask about how your day is. People smile and walk by and I’m relieved they don’t really know me. If they do get close, then they see the prison I have created for myself, and it puts them off. They don’t want to get electrocuted, who does? Not everyone leaves, though, and we learn to be friends with what I have.

Then there are the people that have known me for my whole life and they don’t notice the cage. They aren’t phased by my texts asking whether or not an indent on my skull means I have a fracture or texts about how because I said a weird joke, that must mean I’m a bad person. They tell me to knock it off and I do, and for a time I forget about my cage. For a time I remember drawing chalk cartoons on the driveway and smiling.

But then there’s that person that comes and looks at me with longing and happiness and rushes to me, not missing a beat, knowing to be close to me. They grab at the bars of my cage and are scared, hurt. This is the person where their stomach sinks when I say “I’m the worst.” They are hurt by my pain and when I look at them and I feel a fear, a real fear, one that isn’t part of the irrational cloth of nervousness. This fear is that I am hurting people vividly, and that I am hurting someone I care about so much about with words about myself.

This is when I know I need to get out of the cage.

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Run fast and angry – “Cradle” by the Joy Formidable

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I don’t like admitting when I’m angry. In fact, it’s probably the thing I am worst at doing. I don’t like when I’m pissed off at someone and I don’t like when I’m pissed off at myself. I’m always so worried about keeping the status quo and it sometimes comes back to haunt me.

I’m still trying to get better at expressing anger, but when I was in New York City during the summer of 2013, I found something out that was vital.

I could run.

I could be angry when I ran.

No song better explained my feelings than when I listened to “Cradle” during my morning run through the city. It wasn’t so much of a run-to-a-park kind of a run, it was let’s-not-get-hit-by-cars kind of a run. It was a run to over-wrung my already wracked mind. I wanted to be distracted, and I wanted it to be difficult and something that I could accomplish.

“Cradle” was my anger, “Cradle” was me coping. “Cradle” was my way of breaking plates or screaming or crying. “Cradle” was me letting out the emotions, letting it flow out rather than smack someone in the face who didn’t deserve it.

And something that it taught me was that I was angry much more than I originally thought.

Fare to the well – “Kindred” by Passion Pit

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What do we say to something or someone that changed our inner being?

What do we say to those with no access to context, yet all we can do is talk miles of exposition, of our backstory, of our history? What do we do when we find someone and all we want is to unlock the secret of their significance in our lives?

What do we say to those that can never know what we become? What do we do when we ache as we wish that we can take them with us?

What do we do when the same smile falls from person to person over and over again when we leave? What do we do when we get used to seeing that blankness? What do we become when we start to throw caution, brevity and social graces out because we’ll be a memory soon enough anyway?

Where do we go to feel relevant? Where do we go to stop living in the past and exceed beyond what is expected of us?

What do we do when we find the ones that we love more than the sky above and yet we know we have to let them go? Why do we have to learn to let go so early on when these presences have only just woven into the fabric of our lives?

When should you stop and look at the ground to notice the worms wriggling? Will these lost moments haunt us when we look outside of office building windows onto the pavement that are stories below?

Why do we wonder? Why do we allow ourselves to think into so many holes, into so many crevices? Why do we forget that we’re so unabashedly, unequivocally loved, so intensely present with people here? Why do we think we’re alone? Why is there sludge in our minds?

When is the right moment to part? When is the right time to smile and say the words that we dread? Will we make those we leave happy with our actions? Will we inspire those who have time to catch up to us? Will we overdo it? Will we not put enough effort into it? Will we ever feel satisfied or fulfilled?

When we are sitting on a summer day, when the lightning bugs are flittering around and everything is sweet in the air and droopy, drowsy smiles seem to hang on everyone’s faces, will we think of the beauty of this moment? Will we think of you?

Will we still wonder what we are wondering now?

Why do we have to leave?

Why do we have to say good bye?

The Climb: Raglan Road by Luke Kelly

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At this point, it’s another climb, so you’re okay with it.

The first time that you ever had to climb the hill, wow, that was really tough. It was back when summer blanketed the world with temperatures of ease and normalcy. When 70 degrees was cherished. But man, that hill. You didn’t want to go over it alone. So you didn’t, but people told you to not be afraid of going over it alone. But you were still wary. Because every day? You were supposed to go over this every day?

Ah, but you grew up where bravery was contagious. Where adventure was a treasure to be won because you were looking to find the challenges that would enhance you. That first time you went over the hill by yourself, oh gosh, look at you go! It was such a relief. You could do it. You could trust yourself to push yourself over it.

There were some days where your mind just didn’t let you go there. You had to take the long way so you didn’t have to shorten your breath or think about the strain of doing it. Not everyone thinks like this. This fastidious attention to detail. But there are many that do, so you knew you weren’t alone.

There were days where it was so hard. So hard to just push yourself. To just keep going. Why didn’t everyone just understand that just being this way was sometimes difficult? You weren’t trying to act against anyone, it’s just that sometimes you felt like you were putting extra weight on your shoulders. And you still had to do the climb.

The climb started to numb you, though, and you didn’t even mind after awhile. It was quicker to walk over the hill so you were going to do it anyway.

And then you were invigorated by the hill. Every day you exerted yourself. Every day you tried, even if at the very base of it all it was just climbing a nasty hill.

And maybe you made mistakes. Maybe there were things you shouldn’t have done or maybe there were people who didn’t love you back the way you did. Maybe you took awhile to find your footing. But you loved. You loved and loved and loved and loved and when it wasn’t people, it was at least art. It was at least nature and beauty.

The best was when you were at the top and looked all around and saw the world’s pockets of houses and miniature trees. Where you looked at the Dome the same way you did when you first got there. A look-out point you could experience every day.

There are times where you can worry about the little things. Then there are times where the weightier ideas creep into your everyday thinking process. It’s in these periods of your life where you can’t just assume someone’s going to make it go away. A tissue in the bathroom during class – it’ll help. But you can’t be a kid anymore. You have to help. Or at least do your part.

So you keep going up and down, up and down, up and down. When there are other things in the world, one hill isn’t going to stop you. In fact, it’ll define you. And your strength will only increase.

Because you keep having energy. You keep having persistence. You keep going.

A Sensation of the Softness of the Snow: “Watering Hole” by The Apache Relay

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As you drink your coffee, your tea, what have you, you think about how there’s just so much shit to do. There’s just so much to do and you’re not sure how it’s all going to get done. But really what this self-talk shows is that you’re entertaining your self-pitying side of you. But why judge yourself? Everyone does it. You’re just not as sure as you used to be, and my God, this snow just is not letting up. It’s colder than Antarctica. Antarctica! You’re not a penguin. 

And you’re also a little sick, which is just zapping your sense of good vibes in the first place. It’s like your lungs are balloons you filled up with squeaky air and you’re holding that little opening to the balloon and then when you finally let go, the balloon (your tears) just ends up flying everywhere, noisy and breathy and just cumbersome to the people around you (or at least that’s what you tell yourself, but really you know that people are willing to help out).

The weirdest part of it all, though, is that deep down you’re so, so happy. Is this, like, some weird part of you that likes to punish yourself? I like to challenge myself is what you go with when people normally point this out. It’s all about positivity, man.

But yeah, you’re really happy because it is all about positivity and perspective. Where else in the world would you be able to do these things? Where else in the world would you meet these people? And oh, the people. With their little smiles and hugs and pokes and you know you’re going to be okay because look at who you’re with right now. My God, they like you! My God, you don’t need to wonder about being weird or silly or strange because we’re all just little balloons floating around, bumping into each other every now and then.

The snow, as cold as it gets, is soft when I touch it with my fingertips. And I look at it sparkling and I walk every day to get to the life that I chose. The life that I got to create. Maybe it’s just for a few more months where I’m the author of this particular story, but man, I couldn’t have asked for a better cast of characters.