It's my birthday tonight! Today, the start of today. Happy birthday to me.
This evening I went back to LMU to attend the annual christmas LMU choir concert. My friend Aly is in the choir, and I always meant to go while I was at school, but the concert was always in the midst of finals and I never felt like it. Anyway, it was lovely. They sang in the chapel on campus. I have long loved this chapel, despite the fact that I am not Catholic and much of the decor is meaningful to others but manages to escape me. Anyway, it's a beautiful, cozy place, and it was glorious to hear the choir sing in it. They sang a good number of classic Christmas "Catholic" arrangements and some traditional ones I hadn't ever heard, like an African-American spiritual that made me cry, and a song based upon music from Empire of the Sun. Then of course there ws O Tannenbaum and all that good stuff. At one point they did a medley of carols, having the audience, us, sing the choruses with the choir harmonizing. That was terrificially spirited and beautiful, and throughout the whole thing my emotions were all over the place. Then again, that's my emotions on a usual basis.
I was very affected this evening by the traditional pieces. Partially because of what they made me feel about God, but also partially because of the tradition of the songs themselves, the idea that people have been rejoicing in this holiday spirit for so long. It's amazing to me that a collection of people that can sing and arrange beautifully and collaborate can be found in the world, let alone a single school like LMU, and the concept that this tradition has been carried through so many years in so many countries, this amazing celebration of beauty, I just couldn't stand it. I have an intolerable love for existence and history, the concept of the dead and the ancient things having as much value as those living and young (if not more, obviously). At times I become so aware of it that the only thing I can feel is pain and smallness, the overwhelming sense that it's all just too much. Similiar, though totally different, from what the weird kid says in American Beauty about the damn paper bag, about there being so much beauty in the world he feels as though his heart might explode. That's not why I feel that way, but that's HOW I feel.
Also, being in the Chapel and being able to sing along with such nice little carols made me consider their words, which are so glorious. The one that really got me was Come, All Ye Faithful, a song that we of course know most of the words to but which I know I haven't thought about since I was 4. The picture it paints is too good, and the plea "O come let us adore Him" weighs on me. The longing for Christ, or for fulfillment, has become glossed over for me in that song most Christmases, but tonight as the choir sang, the purity of it just struck me hard.
Anyway. Point was, my appreciation for the meaning as well as the tradition of these songs was driving me crazy, as well as my own thoughts about my birthday and what it means to get older. Like most people who freak out about everything, my birthday is usually troublesome for me and my existential ways. So throughout the concert I was a little ball of emotion, tearing up then furrowing brow in uffish thought, then tearing up again. By the time the concert was over, I felt lighter.
On the way back home, on the exact moment that I turned 23 in California time, I was driving the coast, listening to the Beatles and letting the cold air blow through my car. It felt good. I'm okay with my birthday this year-- I'm not where I want to be, however, I'm doing all right for myself. I'm not sad. Right now, anyway.
And so now I do my laundry, watch a bit of Rebecca before bed, and sleep. Tomorrow is the rest of my birthday, and I think I shall buy myself something nice.