Stay Lucky

March 13, 2011

Regret and melancholy have always been intimately intertwined with Lent in my memory. It wasn’t some sort of conscious thing on the part of my parents, and I didn’t even grow up in a tradition that made Lenten renunciation a big deal. Sure, you always talked about giving up something for Lent, but whether you did or didn’t ultimately didn’t matter much. And my posture towards Lent seems somewhat incongruous given the fact that the whole thing leads up to what is the most subversively triumphant moment in the entire church calendar. But, just as Advent makes me dwell uncomfortably on the tenuousness of the incarnation and human life in general, Lent has served, and continues to serve, as a reminder to me of how utterly terrible life can be, and what evil things we are capable of.

My mood in starting these reflections isn’t helped by world events. Over the past few weeks we’ve watched a madman in Libya commit to slaughtering his subjects and observed in terror as Japan was first rocked by an earthquake and then washed away by a tsunami.

Regret, melancholy, loss. This is what Lent does to me.

The Gaslight Anthem gets this, although maybe not in a “Lenten” way. Their albums dwell extensively on the conditional nature of our lives, on how quickly a person can go from seeming to have everything to possessing nothing. “Stay Lucky” epitomizes this attitude on their part. The song careens along with reckless speed, like the guys are afraid the whole thing will fall apart, just like the life of the subject of their song. And Lucky? Lucky ain’t. He’s trying, and trying too hard, to recapture his past glories. “All the other rooms are a party tonight, and you never got an invitation.”

But the band gets it, too. “Them old records won’t be saving your soul.” Their subject is just a skipping LP, repeating the same scenarios and mistakes, hoping and thinking that it’ll be better if things could just be like they were before. Trapped by his(?) own inability to change, the band’s attitude towards Lucky might be best summed up by the line leading into the chorus: “And it feels like all you have to do is step outside. Stop pacing around and waiting for some moment that might never arrive.”

Far be it for me to try to end on a note of forced positivism, but if Lent is supposed to make us reflective, mightn’t we take a lesson from Lucky? Like the man cured of his delusion that he was seed, yet retained his fear of chickens, Lucky’s fixation prevents the full apprehension of the possibility in life just sitting there waiting to be taken. To my personal disappointment, I see a lot of myself in Lucky.

One Response to “Stay Lucky”

  1. Mahlon said


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