GE;TS (01.11): Ben Folds – Learn to Live With What You Are
By Timothy Falk Monday, 8 Jun 2009

“Good-Evil; The Soundtrack” is a weekly feature that showcases an editor’s song pick complete with a small write-up and a YouTube video or streaming version of the song. This week’s selection by Falk is “Ben Folds – Learn to Live With What You Are.”.


Ben Folds – Learn to Live With What You Are (live)

Ben Folds – Learn to Live With What You Are (video not embeddable)

This song isn’t my favorite Ben Folds song. It’s not even his best work. But it has a very special significance to me. Music is a great many things to many different people. To some, it is merely art. Something to be listened to and critiqued. But for others, myself included, music can soothe the soul, move the heart, and ease the mind. That’s why this song is held very close to my heart. A couple months ago, I had a complete and total breakdown. It was a stressful time in my life, and all transgressions past finally caught up to me when I was at my most vulnerable. I literally felt like I had nothing. I experienced some of my darkest thoughts during that time. It was a place I had been once before, and a place I never wanted to go back to. Slowly, as I wallowed away in my room for what seemed like an eternity, but was most likely only a few days, I just laid in bed. I didn’t leave my room. And I played the same few songs on repeat, over and over again the entire time. I cried. I wrote. I cried more. And I shut down. And all the while, every so often, I heard this song. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds, this song spoke to me in a manner that I needed to hear. It told me “Yeah, you can change some things about yourself, but the fact of the matter is, you’re going to be a great deal unhappy with yourself until you come to terms with the fact that you are, in fact, flawed. And there’s nothing wrong with that.” I believe there’s a Buddhist term for it…Wabisabi I think. The general idea is that perfection actually lies in the acceptance and embrace of your imperfection.

So I sat down and I listened to this song. I listened hard. And I broke down harder than I already had. It was a state not of despair or hopelessness, but it was a moment of pure self viewing. And I cried harder than I had the entire time. I had found a certain transcendence in this song, and I was living it at the moment. I was finally expunging all of my self pity, loathing, and pain from my body. I tear up a little bit just thinking about. That moment when I realized I was at the lowest I could ever be, and decided that instead of staying there, I’d get back to living. I’ve been slowly, but surely, coming to terms with everything I am over the past couple of months. I’ve been a happier person for it. Ben Folds has been a huge inspiration through all this. It seems he has a song for every emotion I can think of, and it helps. But none of them have helped me more than this song. I hope to someday meet Ben, just to thank him. The music video is kind of weird, but fun.

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