• Dian Loh


A reflective piece.

The lonely narcissist in me looks for essences of myself, fragments of my existence, in all that I see but particularly in the music I listen to. It’s the vanity really, because to a certain extent, I believe songs are mirrors. The looking glass everyone loves the most is that which reflects the clearest view of their perceived selves and I’m no different.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s something akin to wallowing in self-pity, because the songs I hold dear are always — at the very least — a little sad. They’re always a little broken. Ever so slightly cracked. Lyrics like crystal shards, glinting in the light, pretty and designed to kill. But I seem to love those parts the most. They cajole with their cuts, encouraging catharsis. Through the self-indulgent expelling of raw, repressed emotions, I’m given the opportunity to feel alive. Or perhaps it’s not self-pity at all, but the idea that something could be so befitting to my situation, tailored to my tastes, altered to my expectations. Seeing the familiar in what should be foreign suggests to me the involvement of a certain degree of destiny. It feels like a fated encounter, a preordained meeting and I’ve always been a sucker for idyllic ideas. It puts forth the grand, dramatic notion that something or someone out there might be looking out for you. It holds the implication that one is remarkable, enough to be granted the universe’s special attention and care. It feeds my need for recognition and validation — I eat it right up. Or then again, it might just be that I enjoy my existence to the point of its constant and active rediscovery in all that is around me. Deny as one might, but I suppose we’re all a little bit conceited, searching for slivers of ourselves in everything else. Songs are mirrors and vanity is such a human thing.

All these possible — and highly accurate — theories that are responsible for my musical inclinations inadvertently make way for the proposal that I might find something to improve on because of them. But my plan has only ever been to observe. I am watching myself without need for correction, and it has been a fascinating viewing indeed.

I’m writing this piece as no more than a means of reflection. In my prior article, I mentioned that I’d be doing a lot of that this year. I suppose there is something to be said for the satisfying feeling of translating messy thoughts into coherent sentences. In doing so, I can manage to suss out the reasons behind my inner workings that have become more instinctive than learned. It’s educational, the process of studying oneself — even if it may concern a topic as seemingly mundane as one’s preferred genres of music.

I hope I’m allowed more of these bouts of wistfulness and healthy rumination. They’re more useful than most people might believe. In my small, narrow-minded world, where praise is rewarded for debilitating toil, I think that it would be much healthier if we allocated time slots for ourselves to sit and watch and do nothing at all.

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