Today, stopped at a busy intersection, I had a front row seat to this scene: On the opposite side of the intersection from me, two young men pushed a stalled car around the corner, headed for the nearest driveway that would get it off this road that would soon be buzzing with traffic when the light changed. To the corner the slope had been slightly downhill, but after the corner, it was clearly getting tougher as the slope shifted uphill. I watched to see what would happen—my light was still red—and I must have blinked, because I missed where she came from, but a young woman who had not been anywhere on the scene came running up, smiling, and joined in to push without anyone missing a beat. Slowly they succeeded in getting the car, an indistinct model with faded paint, to the driveway of the shopping center. My light turned green and I followed and saw them push the car up the driveway and safely to rest. Then I was past and they were gone from my sight. Must have been one grateful driver in that car.

Earlier, in the morning radio broadcast of Weekend Edition, indie-rock singer-songwriter
Mitski Miyawaki was interviewed. Should I confess at this point that I don’t have a high opinion of current music? What I’ve heard are tuneless wails inexplicably fascinating to young pedestrians. So much so, that, earbuds in, they stride through intersections without so much as a glance at traffic.

But I was hooked upon hearing the description of Mitski’s music and stayed by the radio. Her  definition of happiness has been “skewed more towards ecstasy rather than contentment.” But clearly she is thinking and feeling deeply in her art. “I’ve been learning that I can use many different things to try to chase that feeling, but the most unhealthy thing is the chasing itself.” Sounds like wisdom to me. Not that I have anything against ecstatic moments and trying to make them last. She was asked about the track called “Happy.”  She said, “When I was writing this song, I just wanted none of it. I didn’t want the happiness and I didn’t want the sadness that comes after it. That’s kind of what the song is about: not wanting to go up or down anymore.” She described the kind of happiness she feels now with her career, and it’s contentment. Not the end of the story, but she is clear-eyed, and is writing music that sounds like something very cool. And it has tunes!

There is a koan that speaks of many eyes and hands and seems to be talking about great  compassion in the universe. I saw happiness today, easy fellow-feeling, and the gifts in musical arts. All in the young. And it makes me content.

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