This week in the Florida Keys, a sick sea turtle swam to the entrance of the only hospital in the world that is solely licensed to treat sea turtles. After giving the turtle some space, staff members treated him for a bacterial infection, and will continue to monitor him until he is well enough to be re-released into the ocean. To some this may seem like a happy coincidence, but to those of us who believe that everything happens for a reason, this is just another example of the magic of the Universe. Granted, many readers might dismiss this logic as too happy-go-lucky, especially when so many of our hopes and dreams don't actually pan out. But that's where serendipity steps in. Instead of getting what we hoped for, we end up with what is truly meant to be.
Whether this paradigm suits you or not, there's no denying that The Dave Matthews Band is where they are meant to be. From their humble beginnings in Charlottesville, Virginia to their current status as a band with the ability to sell out stadiums within minutes, they've risen to stardom like the proverbial phoenix. That's not to say that troubled times have never crossed their paths, but the band has never let dark times get in the way of creating great music. In fact, some of our all time favorites stem from precisely those moments that the band would probably have avoided had they been given the choice. Take #41, which is rumored to pertain to the soured business relationship between Dave and a former manager/mentor for whom he “wanted to play,” until the mentor's greed got in the way. At the time, it was probably quite a painful endeavor, certainly not a circumstance that Dave would have welcomed with open arms. And yet, today #41 is one of the best loved DMB songs around.
Another unanimous winner, “Halloween” also appears to have emanated from events that were quite distressing at the time, namely Dave's unrequited love for a past girlfriend. Isn't it interesting that songs that reportedly stemmed from bitter interpersonal discord are capable of bringing so many people together? Sure, there are songs, which will remain unnamed, that fans may disagree about, but who doesn't love “#41” or “Halloween?”
Come to think of it, doesn't most amazing art stem from heart-ache of some kind? Without sorrow, songs like “Grace is Gone,” “Gravedigger,” and “Let You Down,” would be nothing more than tales of loss and grief. The emotion behind the song is what connects us to the music in such a powerful way. Because these musicians are exactly where they are meant to be, every experience that they have will come alive through the music, whether they purposefully compose it or not. Their willingness to play from the heart enriches the songs, making them deeper and more related, adding another dimension of meaning to their moments of adversity. And as listeners, it gives us the shivers.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.
Author of Serendipity and the Search for True Self