Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and my bill came to $41.41. The cashier, clearly not a Dave fan, could not quite comprehend my excitement. I'm sure she thought I was all riled up because apples were on sale. I didn't even try to explain. Then, I got in the car and saw that it was 41 degrees outside! While I prefer temperatures above 70, I find myself smiling widely when the display reads 41. And that's when I started thinking about all the ways that every-day life reminds me of the Dave Matthews Band, and what a gift that really is.
Bare trees in winter look like the Firedancer symbol. A painting that I love, in a downtown Asheville gallery is called Cornbread. I drove on route 27 while visiting family in Massachusetts, noting that the speed limit in some areas was 40 mph. I snickered inappropriately when a friend discussing an issue resolved that, “It is out of my hands for now.” I swear, that's exactly what she said. How could I not giggle? Every time someone says “recently,” “bartender,” “warehouse,” or “ants,” I beam. When my husband, a computer engineer, says that his server crashed, I start singing. Does any of this sound familiar?
It's not that we're a bunch of socially inept people who (ahem) “can't stop” laughing. It's just that we love this band so much and play their music so often, that our brains are literally conditioned to respond to these cues. Research suggests that listening to enjoyable music raises our levels of Seretonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness. We feel great when we listen to these guys jam, and we want to recreate that feeling in our daily routines. Noticing DMB related facts in our environment seems like the perfect way to brighten our day! Maybe that's why we see reminders even when they aren't really there. A Floridian friend of mine kept exclaiming, “Look! It's the Firedancer!” every time she saw a car with a hunting sticker on it while visiting me here in the woods. Now, even hunting stickers, which used to make me think of joining PETA, just make me smirk.
I think it's amazing that loving this music can turn otherwise mundane moments into little flashes of cheer. Like members of an illustrious club, we're privy to treasures that others may miss. And sometimes, it's those misses that are the most entertaining. Recently, I told a friend that one of my screen names is dixiechicken41 and he said, “You mean there are 40 other dixie chickens?” It's okay to laugh at friends sometimes, even if the joy is steeped in sin.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self