It’s raining. A man runs into his favorite Italian restaurant for shelter. He greets the waitress and orders the usual: spaghetti ragù with fresh chilies. As he’s eating his meal back home, he wonders how his life ended up this way. He’s studying for a degree that he hates, he’s applying for jobs that he’s never going to get and he can’t stand the face that he sees in the mirror.
It’s midnight. He gets a chocolate cupcake from the fridge, it has a candle on it. He lights the candle. Before he blows it out, he makes one wish: that this will be the year things change, that this will be the year he’ll change. Wisps of smoke can be seen in the darkness. Happy Birthday.
“Days in the sun / And nights in the rain / Summer is over, simple and plain...Already told you, I don't feel the same” – Majid Al Maskati, “Summer’s Over Interlude”
A billion streams. Twelve weeks at number one. Outselling Beyoncé. Summer’s been good to The Boy.
When I first heard Views, I hated it. I wasn’t a fan of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late so I was annoyed to find out that Views was more of the same old Drake that we’ve become accustomed to since 2013.
Views is the soundtrack of a person set in his ways. It’s the soundtrack of a person isolated in his fortress because it’s easier to burn bridges than build relationships. Views is bitter, petty and paranoid. Views is every emotion I promised to leave behind after spending my birthday by myself last year.
It’s easy to criticize artists for sticking to their old habits but how often do we change? How many New Year’s resolutions do we actually keep? How many times have we cursed ourselves out for not being better? It was only after I listened to Views for about the hundredth time that I realized how unfair it was to expect of Drake what I once stopped expecting of myself.
“Feeling it overtake / All that I used to hate / One by one every trait / I tried but it's way too late” – Tame Impala, “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”
Change is a painful process. It’s a constant tug of war between the person you are and the person you want to become. You want to change but not so much that you become unrecognizable, you want to see the world but you’re worried about leaving home, and you want a relationship but you’re scared of love and commitment.
Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” is a perfect example of this struggle. With each verse, you can hear the typical back-and-forth that goes on in our minds just before we’re about to make a big decision. Every time it seems that we’re ready to make a step in the right direction, our subconscious holds us back to remind us of our failures and past mistakes. Our internal house of mirrors may have shattered but the shards of our deepest fears and insecurities lay beneath our feet.
The good thing about change is that it happens. Whether we capitalize on it or not is a different matter.
In his TED Talk ‘The Psychology of Your Future Self’, social psychologist Dan Gilbert claimed that people only appreciate changes in hindsight. This is because, according to Gilbert, people find it easier to remember the past than to imagine the future.
It’s easier to be nostalgic about the music we loved than to appreciate the music we have now. It’s easier to dwell on the friendships that faded away than to be excited about the new ones we’ll make. It’s easier to be haunted by our failures than to work towards our future successes.
When Drake says that he doesn’t know what’s left for him, it’s only because he insists on looking at life through a rearview mirror. Maybe he’ll speak up more on social issues, maybe he’ll finally marry Rihanna, maybe he’ll reach a new peak. Whatever it is, it’s unlikely that this is the last version of Drake that we’ll see and the same can be said for all of us. We all have the potential to change, we just need the courage to actually do it.
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you've ever been. The one constant in our life is change." - Dan Gilbert, The Psychology of Your Future Self
It’s sunny. A man casually walks into a French restaurant. He’s greeted by family and friends. As he’s spending time with loved ones, he reflects on how much his life has changed in one year. He’s got a job in a different industry, he’s moved back home and he’s the happiest that he’s been in almost a decade.
The birthday cake arrives and everybody sings and cheers. The man quickly blows out the candles; his wish has already been granted. Wisps of smoke can be seen in the light. Happy Birthday.
Art Credit: Benjamin Gary Richards