Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?

THE Relationship Blog


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‘Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?’ (Lyrics from Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’) Well, do you?

We recently took our daughter and friends to a Lady Gaga concert. It is amazing what you learn about your child when you actually listen to her conversations with her friends. One of the things they talked about was the above lyrics. They called the lyric stupid, nonsense and questioned the intelligence of the writer. Now we won’t be making an argument that this has the depth or allusions of ‘Sound of Silence’ but we can argue that the question and feelings are valid.

Throughout evolution people have flourished and advanced in community. You do not see hermits taking over the world any time soon, do you? Human beings are social creatures. We evolve emotionally in relationship. Try to think about who you were before the first time you fell in love. Are you the same person? Of course you aren’t! We also know that sad in Zimbabwe is the same as in Siberia. Research in facial expressions has proven time and again that happy comes with a smile and sad comes with a frown. The emotions are also described similarly. So, we can conclude that emotions share universality.

So when Katy Perry talks about the plastic bag we can balk or look at the imagery. The imagery reminds us of the film ‘American Beauty’. In that movie, Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning play this really messed up couple. She is obsessed with perfection and he is going through a sort of spiritual awakening where he realizes that he is not happy and goes in search for it. He is the plastic bag. He has allowed the world and wind to buffet him around. Be a businessman. Be a family man. All of these things are accomplished in his life as if they were programmed but without his own enjoyment in the process. Then he wakes up one day and says ‘This isn’t my life!’

Are those really the themes of that film? We have no clue. That’s what we remember, sort of. But the idea of the plastic bag being pushed around by random gusts of wind and being at the mercy of something beyond your control is something everyone can relate to. Being a victim to your circumstances is not a feeling relegated to a certain sex or age group. We all can relate to being ‘put upon’ or ‘out of control’.

Just the ability to relate is a marvel. Why is that we can empathize and sympathize with people. We aren’t some organism hooked up to a central processor that relays everyone’s feelings and yet some people can generally tell what people are feeling. Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they angry? We say some because people have lost their gift of sensing emotions. We have become these autonomous beings who navigate the world detached and bemused with the goings on of the other autonomous beings. Or, simply put, we have become so absorbed with our own shit that we are completely consumed. Other people only matter when they do unto us or we fancy them somehow.

Feelings are universal. We are not alone. We are all connected. Perhaps if people understood the feeling of plastic baggyness or victimhood, they would become as useless as your appendixes.

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