Sentimental Tuesday questions, Hirokazu Koreeda edition
I suspect I would have liked Coldplay’s song “Clocks” in any case. The chiming piano chords at the beginning would probably have hooked me the first time I heard it. (I’m a sucker for that kind of sound.) Toss in the lyrics that evoke coming home after troubled times and I’m sold.
I would almost certainly have liked it anyway.
But as it happens the first time I heard those opening chords was in a video made to promote a summer camp where I used to volunteer. This particular camp was for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. I was part of the infirmary staff.
It was easily my favorite place on earth. The week I would work there was the single best week of my year.
In the video the camp director addresses the camera and talks about the mission of the place, what’s it’s meant to provide for the people who come. As she speaks, those opening chords play in the background. When the music swells, the visuals shift to a montage of images from the camp. And then it transitions to clips of the campers having fun, counselors talking, etc.
Friends, Pavlov himself could not have designed a tidier study or found a more perfect example of conditioned responses than Yours Truly. For months after I first saw that video, all it would take was hearing the opening bars of “Clocks” to make my face go all scrunchy and my throat constrict to straw-like proportions. Considering how popular the tune was, for a while this phenomenon occurred with distressing frequency. Thankfully, the effect has waned over the years, and now I only get choked up about 30% of the time when I hear it.
Suppose a God, roughly analogous to the Big White-haired Man Sitting on a Cloud so commonly depicted. Further, suppose that Dante was pretty accurate at the end of Purgatorio, and that everyone goes to heaven by way of an Earthly Paradise. (Sadly for him, he was totally wrong about Inferno, because it turns out that God isn’t keen on tormenting people for eternity and it doesn’t actually exist.) Finally, suppose that God really is as wonderful as all the nice parts of the world’s religions say, and lets everyone design their own personal version of the Earthly Paradise that holds heaven’s gate.
Mine would look like a campground about an hour outside of New York City. There’s a small pond and a swimming pool and a flagpole that leans a bit to the side. St. Peter has been temporarily replaced by a woman with sandy blond hair who runs the place with a perfect combination of giddiness, compassion and competence. And somewhere in the background the opening chords of “Clocks” are playing.
What would yours be like?