Vienna Waits For You

I found myself listening to Billy Joel’s hits this afternoon, after a Facebook post referencing his 1977 tune “Vienna” in a travel photo caption prompted me to. Listening closely to the lyrics of that particular song, I’ve realized that it was such a relatable composition to the youths of any generation.

“Where’s the fire, what’s the hurry about?… You’ve got so much to do and only so many hours in a day”

This seems a lot like our Coffee Culture today, where it’s become acceptable and “cool” to express our stresses on social media, collecting coffee cups as medals we’ve earned for working so hard and wanting everyone to know that.

In modern interpretation, that last line about doing so much is how we like to appear constantly on-the-go through SNS. There are #lateposts about travels on days you’re actually just at home, mobile apps like Swarm that inform followers of your whereabouts (which, IMO, makes you susceptible to stalking), and Instagram Stories and Snapchat that allow friends to follow your every move. We’re so obsessed with collecting experiences and showing them off that it becomes a distraction from potential nuances and the present.

“Slow down, you’re doing fine, you can’t be everything you want before your time.” 

Children are in such a hurry to grow up. This generation, which has been made to believe they’re special and can do anything, has become too ambitious. We’ve been raised on the notion that we’re all going to be successful. We’re all going to be the next Steve Jobs in time, so we set unrealistic goals with only the intention of becoming Steve Jobs, that when reality checks in, we’re disoriented and ultimately, depressed.

To all these dreams, Billy Joel says, “Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true.”

That’s when we get to the most important line in the song that seems to have no connection to us, but actually makes the most sense: “When will you realize Vienna waits for you?”

What’s in Vienna? Why was it so special for Billy Joel, an American singer and songwriter, to entitle a song after it? For that, I had to do some extra research. In 2008, The New York Times conducted an interview with the artist and asked him what the song meant. After he was estranged from his father at eight years of age, they were later reunited in Vienna after a little over a decade. Billy Joel found his father in a completely different country from where they parted. And for this, Vienna connotes a homecoming in the place where your family dwells. When we’ve exhausted ourselves from overworking, aren’t occupied trying to look like we’re somewhere else, or when we actually are somewhere else, there’s always home and family to help us gain repose. And the singer phrases it in a wake-up call manner, where we’ve got to realize the significance of a home and family in our lives. For many, it’s a starting point, but in “Vienna”, it’s a sporadic pitstop and the end-goal.

Billy also recounts his visit to Vienna and his encountering a sweet 90-year old lady sweeping the street. His father reassures him, “She’s got a job, she’s useful, she’s happy, she’s making the street clean, she’s not put out to pasture.” According to Joel, the senior citizens in Vienna aren’t put in homes or retired, but rather valued and put to use in the community, as opposed to how they are treated in other countries. Another meaning behind “Vienna” unfolds. After this fast-paced life of doing this and that, making something of ourselves, trying to feel important, Billy, too, reassures us that there’s Vienna — both capital of Austria and a hypothetical situation that secures our future when we’re seemingly old and “useless.” I think that the fruitlessness of old age and being forgotten are two of the greatest fears of youth. Fret not, young ones, because according to this soulful 67-year old, Vienna will be waiting.

In Case of Emergency, Just Read

Every event that follows a graduation at any level is a blur. I just marched down one of the most important aisles I will ever have to walk down, and no I did not get married nor go to the grocery store. I’m talking about graduating college almost two months ago. What ensues is the perpetual questioning of what your plans are now that you’re an “adult”. This is where the fear comes in. What if you’re not ready to handle the reality of paying taxes (honestly, how do you go about these buggers?!), job-hunting, and leaving the ol’ family behind for good? I know graduation has caught me by surprise.

Here are a few things to remember:

  1. Take your time! Once you get employed, there’s no turning back. It’ll be bye-bye, vacations ‘til God knows how long. Allot time for travel. Cash in your parents’ graduation gift and travel the world for a month or two. I know I would’ve missed an awesome Japan trip if I sought employment right away. Also, don’t forget to chill with friends and family before you get down to dirty business.
  1. Think, think, think! Settle what you really want to do for the rest of your life before you send out that resumé. After all, you don’t want to get stuck doing something you don’t love. Avoid getting pressured by those Facebook statuses about your friends’ first days at work; it’s not as fun as it looks. Anyway, it’s better to be prepared for the war, than to be firing bullets blindly.
  1. Work doesn’t always come after graduation. Consider pursuing a master’s degree or go to that awesome conference abroad. The more experiences you garner, the better rounded you’ll be. In the end, you’ll come out the winner with your polished resumé and your new lease on life.
  1. Just breathe. Relax, you’ll get settled sooner or later. It might take time and the habitual, “What am I doing with my life?” but you’ll get there.  Everyone is just as scared as you are when it comes to making big life decisions.

I am speaking from experience when I say, sit back and enjoy the ride! It might be a bumpy one, but hey, c’est la vie.

Media Trumps Human Purpose: A Map to Contentment

Admit it, you’ve caught yourself at least once in your life harbouring jealousy towards someone prettier, taller or wealthier than yourself. We, too, want to achieve that excellent physique, pearly white vinyls, non-frizz glossy hair and the ability to max out our credit cards with no worries of any debt, not to mention the other several you keep with you at all times. The cause of development of the green-eyed monster? The media. The glorifying creator of all things “perfect” in this human world. We put up on a pedestal the traits they favor because we think possessing these will give us better lives.

Another common belief is that acquiring beauty, fame, and fortune would bring us much praise and would make our lives complete, but I tell you this: these things will suck you and your humanity dry, spit you out, and leave you empty. Leave it to me to tell you that once you’ve gotten everything you’ve ever wanted through the most questionable and time-consuming means, you will never stop wanting more. A vicious cycle ensues after, and you begin to tire of everything you’ve ever wanted and will never be content nor happy. This is never living. Life is not about the quantity of your achievements and the despicable capability to flaunt it to other people’s faces; it’s about living simply and pursuing the wellness of others. My university education has taught me the most valuable lesson one could ever learn in this life, and that is we are in this world, not for ourselves, but for others. Your outward appearance or sum of money won’t amount to anything in about 80 years of walking this planet. What matters most transcends the earth as we know it, and this is the legacy you leave behind that lives on in the lives and hearts of others. This feat may be done through our little daily acts of kindness partnered with undying optimism and faith as hard as the hardest of rocks. Touching lives may sound corny, but it is what counts most in life because not only did you live for yourself, but you’ve managed to extend your life through the quality goodness you’ve shared with others. After accomplishing this moral task, I assure you, you will never hunger or thirst for those worldly temptations again.