“Congratulations, you are officially alive.”
-Brad Paisley, Officially Alive, from the album Wheelhouse (2013)
It’s safe to say we are not the same people we were a month, a year, ten years ago. We cause tumult within ourselves and rip off layers of outdated skin. We look into the mirror and fog it up with a sigh full of determination, then evaluate what the hell we’ve done with our lives.
No one is exempt from this reform, no matter how solid their character seems. As written before, our own worst enemies rest inside of us. The flaws throb faster and more painful than the very rhythm that moves us from day to day.
Some new issue emerges, like a blemish smack-dab in the middle of your forehead, or an old one shakes off dust, like the amount of time you sat in a restaurant after the ‘love of your life’ ran out. Within moments, you’re experiencing pain, and it shoves you back to Square One. That’s okay.
That’s what makes us officially alive.
When I stumbled upon this song, it played me like a pianist plays a piano, with fervor and complete understanding. Maybe songs don’t usually mean much to you, but they do to me. They’re how I reflect and adjust. However, if that isn’t your cup of tea, I’ll rehash everything.
“So you ruffled some feathers, yeah, you’ve done it now…turned the tables in the temple clean upside down…you’re out on a ledge, and one thing’s for sure…when you got ‘em all wishin’ you’d never been born…”
The song goes on to say that a heartbeat doesn’t mean you’re alive, being in love, pain, and life-changing situations does, that you don’t realize how much you’ve missed until the opportunity is long gone.
It doesn’t just sing, it speaks. Volumes.
Easily one of the best songs Brad Paisley has ever written or graced, it teaches, as all great songs do, and it brings perspective, as all great writings do. With that perspective, I have drawn my own conclusions about what makes us living.
It’s true, a heartbeat doesn’t mean you’re alive; it means you’re living. Being alive is a different story. It’s when you make regretless comments, and the media swarms. It’s when you fall in love, despite knowing the other person is, literally or emotionally, hundreds of miles away. It’s when you go from living in a small town to attending college in the chaos of a big city.
Simply put, it’s the chances, sacrifices, and leaps we go through with that make our hearts race. When our passions flare, and the sound of our heart rate overwhelms everything else.
The government may make you fume, but that means you’re aware. Your past may result in emotional breakdowns, but that means you can feel. Wherever the road leads may scare you, but that means you want to move forward.
You know who’s alive? That annoying guy on Facebook who makes posts about current events. A broken woman who finds the strength to leave her cheating husband and start over. The little boy who finally threw a punch after being bullied for so long.
Our current NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.
Who knows how to ruffle feathers better than Brad Keselowski? No one. Because he is loud and stirring the pot, it causes NASCAR to somehow react.
That makes the sport alive.
We should thank those who go out of their way to be aware, feel, move forward. We should also aspire to be like them.
So, as you lean closer to the mirror to examine your new zit, you begin to mumble about how you need to buy a new brand of facial scrub. Pulling away, you remember tears rolling, a black dress sprinting out the door, awkward silence ensuing as you slipped the diamond ring back in your pocket.
You close your eyes, breathe. It disappears like it visualized, quick and jagged. Open your eyes and smile. You’ve survived to fight another day.
Be happy that you’re officially alive, that you’re not the person you were a month, a year, ten years ago, that you’ve done something to piss someone off.