The Center Will Not Hold

The Center Will Not Hold

🌞 Wakey wakey!

This week has felt like a month and a half, what gives? Random thought: can anyone who knows me in person tell me whether I type like I speak? It's bothering me that I have no perspective into this. I don't know if I'd ever say "what gives?" in person but I tossed it out here so casually.

Anyways, if that thought gives off red flags about how I'm doing, just know:

Last week I promised a deep dive into my notes on change and how it ever so discreetly becomes your most consistent lifetime companion. After pondering how I'd like to present my thoughts I realized that I actually already have, just through a different medium (Instagram). Unfortunately, putting anything out onto the internet via IG is the equivalent of dropping your vulnerability and intimate thoughts into a violent maelstrom. There, they instantly get sucked into the maw and spit out into some deep sea trench somewhere. Not here though, this is a symbiotic relationship you and I have you see, you come and read my lengthy existential dribble and in exchange I reward you with hot beats and such. For real though, If you feel like cutting to the chase, please skip right through to the music, if not let's unpack some things, here are some collected and revised thoughts on the topic of change and loss, if this reads as familiar you probably already read some of it on my Instagram at the top of 2022.

I've been thinking a lot about change lately: the fear behind it, the instinct to recoil at the thought of it, the cultural zeitgeist that resists it at all costs. But I think I've been most fascinated by the inevitability of change as a variable. There comes a point in life where we all have to reconcile ourselves with the reality of change and its cousin, chaos. There comes a day, a need, when we have to stop and take note of all the areas in our lives where entropy has come and made itself at home. This day seems to serve as an awakening of sorts. It's the day you truly realize and accept that all you love will slip through your fingers like sand clenched in a fist, the tighter the fist, the looser the sand. We then need to truly understand that our worst fears are inevitable to some degree. We will lose our parents and dear friends, our relationships will fade and sink into the deep trenches of our memories, and one day we may look into the mirror only to gasp as we realize the eyes staring back are not as familiar as they once were.

Loss to me seems like the ultimate form of change, maybe because it's the only thing that immediately and fundamentally rewrites your experience of tomorrow. The fracture of loss reminds us how fragile we all really are. It changes how we communicate and show up with loved ones, it changes how we show up for ourselves in our priorities and decision making, it changes everything and threatens to do so again. It's a trial, a rite of passage, if navigated with presence and acceptance you can learn to instill a deeper gratitude for what was, and what remains. If you resist, you risk becoming the flayed man, the pain prolongs and the wounds fester.  Loss is ambiguous upon arrival but resolute upon departure.

I recall growing up being mortified at the idea that I may one day lose touch with the friends that once felt like home, that to change would constitute a betrayal. The artists and songwriters I found appealing in my youth warned against it: do not change, do not lose yourself or else! Then I think I started to understand that time serves to facilitate self discovery. Time is a praxis for self actualization, a praxis of departure - leaving one place to find another, an experiment in finding and unearthing the parts of you that have been lost, only to understand that to find your ideal version of self, you will have to lose it again and again. The journey to self-awareness is nothing more than observing yourself keep the boat steady on an ever shifting and expanding sea.

Why are we so afraid of becoming someone different? I think we're all terrified of being left behind. Our worst fear is that we wake up one day and the lover we've shared a bed with for so long has packed up and moved on without imparting so much as a kiss goodbye. We fear the day our calls go unanswered, or our love unrequited, but why? I think many of us will have to reckon with the notion that we've been potentially outsourcing our happiness and sense of self worth, anchoring it in the sun-drenched ideal of a memory, person, or place. Reality is, we may have been stuck in an illusory present. When all our fantasies abandon us we have no choice but to resort to building our temple with no help. What if no one taught us how to build? How do we take our hands and make anew something old?

Finding the answers to those questions may be the point entirely. Is this the nature of the human condition? Is the observation of change the work for which we’re born? Are we to go round in circles to learn how to build or destroy? If the world serpent always catches it’s tail can we come to understand the act as one of necessity, not gluttony?

Perhaps we’ll never know the answer to those questions until it’s too late. Perhaps that’s the point. Anyways, If change is the pull back to the apex of an arrow’s draw then to that I say: fly arrow fly and may your mark be true, but even if you miss your shot, wow what a view.

If you took time out of your day to read all of that, I appreciate you deeply. If you skipped right to the music, I still appreciate you deeply and admire that you know what you want. As always, if those words brought anything up and you feel like sharing, I'm here to receive.

Now for some tunes!

Before you go on, may I suggest brewing a cup of coffee or tea to accompany the following listens?

🎧 A Song to Study

Tame Impala, Nick Hakim, and Frank Ocean fans, you will love this one. This has got to be a top 5 favorite Tidal algorithm discovery for me. What stood out to me about this track is its drive, it lurches forward with this incessant energy that lets off the brakes just long enough for you to glimpse a street sign and catch your breath. Then its back to blurring down an empty neon-drenched highway fresh after a rainstorm in a car that seemingly floats above the tarmac, tires would bring too much friction to this ride. How does something possess such a massive energetic presence while still feeling delicate, inviting, and composed? I credit the walking bass-line that doesn't abandon you for a moment.

I also find this track to be an appropriately existential companion to the notes I shared above. Luke referred to songs on this album as: looking directly at living within time passing. This all is furthered by the woefully bittersweet and unimpeachable lyrics:

I won't give you empty promises
I can only give the promise of goodbye.
But I'll give you my time
on a rosy Sunday.

Enjoy, put this one on your driving playlists please.

Bonus: I've been abusing Midjourney this week and decided to generate some AI art that captures how I feel listening to this music. Check it out below!

🏡 An Album to Live In

Where do I begin with this one? First off, I have zero awareness of how popular/unpopular this album ever was. Second off, I usually skip the first song on this album, I pretend the album starts with the second song 🤷‍♂️.

I discovered this album during my final year of high-school in 2013 after stumbling upon one of the most popular tracks from the album, Invest, on an Alternative R&B playlist on Spotify. I was instantly hooked by the approachability and catchiness of its song structure. I then took a chance on the album and shortly found myself living within it for the next few years. I consulted it like a first-aid kit in moments of dejection. I found the soundscapes within to be healing in the way that a sad movie can make you feel more alive. The album didn't try to yank me out into a brighter and happier place. Instead, it swam those heavier and more nebulous spaces between emotional states towards a deeper understanding, one that would help me to find the beauty within all things grey. That being said, this album is no stranger to lightness. This record sounds like you're walking out of a misty forest in the last few hours before dawn. The album ends with dawn's first light singeing the evening dew as you breathe deeply and feel the arrival of a beautiful day.

When I was 19 years old I had a bit of a hermetic phase while my friends and I navigated our first year after high-school. I treated my house in the suburbs as Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond. It was a deeply introspective time marked by many early mornings watching the sunrise outside my window over Northeast New Jersey. I would listen to this record frequently while journaling fresh insights in my iPhone's notes app. I would occasionally do it like Captain Kirk with starlog style voice memos. Oh the romance. Anyways, enjoy.

Bonus: Midjourney listening art, or should I say Not Art?


👋 Until next time...

I understand how sacred privacy is in our day and I feel tremendously honored when someone trusts me enough to let me into their inbox week after week. Thanks for being here ❤️.

If something resonated from this edition please do not hesitate to reach out, I hope for this to be a two-way communication channel. Let's chat and discuss music and/or ideas.

Where Do We Begin?
Meet Christian Archer. Learn what to expect as a subscriber. Understand the meaning of Attack and Flux.
If you want to learn more about who I am and wtf "Attack & Flux" means, I suggest giving this a read, consider it a proper intro.