You can’t fix life. But you can make it better. No, no, don’t roll your eyes. I know life is daunting times a thousand. But how you can make it better can be simpler than you think, less expensive than you think (actually fairly cheap), and stoked with good emotion.
See “Alive Inside.” Let this documentary film inspire you. You don’t even need to expect that of yourself. Just let yourself tear up. A woman in the film cries and the man helping her asks, “Those are tears of joy?” “Yes,” she says. “I thought you were going to grow wings,” he responds. “I was trying,” she says.
Open up your hand. I want to put a word in it: music. Carry it with you when you see “Alive Inside.” As you watch the film, you will look at that word in your hand several times. You’ll nod your head in amazement at such a tried and true tool.
A social worker puts head phones on an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home. A bent-over lump of withdrawn human being pops with vitality. No cajoling could stir this. No pill could care-take this. More than that, a man who could barely utter a word can sing, can remember, can connect.
See “Alive Inside” for a range of soul-opening examples. Not cherry picked from a grope at an inaccessible horizon, such moments can be delivered by any family member who just didn’t know that making it better was a familiar piece of music away. Any volunteer can visit with an I-pod – tiny e-gadgets that can hold, what, a couple thousand songs. Health care professionals can see beyond a mostly numbing warehouse to a way to goose the system.
This film feels a little flat and incomplete when it covers its surrounding material. Nonetheless, the backdrops of information and science, of cultural and institutional forces, help round an experience that will make you feel better about our capacity and ready opportunity to make life better.