"After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same"

Graphic by me

The tile for this post comes from the “missing” verse to Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”:

Now the years are rolling by me
They are rockin’ evenly
I am older than I once was
And younger than I’ll be and that’s not unusual.
No it isn’t strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes we are more or less the same

It’s funny, I think, how some things sort of lead up to other things. Since the first day of Chanukah I’ve been playing a few Simon & Garfunkel songs on my mp3 player (mostly in the car and in the kitchen, while making lunches for the kids). It started with a radio newscaster mentioning the “Sound of Silence” and then I started humming and found an old CD.  This has lead to me playing (and singing along) to some songs that I really haven’t thought of in almost 30 years. 

The truth is, my father a”h, was a big Simon & Garfunkel fan.  I remember being in 2nd grade and listen to our LPs of their “Greatest Hits”, “Sounds of Silence” and “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”.  I learned words like “superficial” and “confidence”.  I’d listen to them all the time and can remember long car trips to Texas and Pennsylvania listening to the cassettes, as well.  Driving to and from work last week and listening to a song here and there has reminded me that I have always liked music and enjoyed singing.  At some point, I started equating singing secular music with my pre-teshuva past, almost on the same level (in my head) as eating non-kosher.  This is, of course, narishkeit (nonsense).  I’m happier when I sing.  Also, I even heard a difference this past Shabbos night in shul when I was davening.  My voice sounded better than it had in a long time during Lecha Dodi because I had been exercising my vocal cords.

I thought for years that by trying to control what music I choose to listen to and even drastically limiting what secular music I would play (every now and then) that I was on the correct path.  This derech is, as I’ve been thinking about since Tishrei, a major difference between trying to control and quench a bad middah or tyvah (urge) and harnessing it for our avodah.  Holding back from something that is part of who I am hasn’t brought me the shelaimus (completeness or wholeness) that I’ve been working towards.  So, despite my refraining from throwing in odd Simon & Garfunkel references throughout this post (and I had some good ones that I didn’t use), I will simply write that for the first time, in long time, I’m “feelin’ groovy”.

8 thoughts on “"After changes upon changes, we are more or less the same"

  1. tesyaa

    The reason you thought shunning secular music was the “right” path was because someone told you so. You didn’t come to that conclusion independently.

    I’m also a recovered secular-music-shunner, but I’ve been recovered for quite a while. I like some of the same music I like when I was a kid, but not all of it, and although I never used to listen to Motown, I found I really like it.

  2. Shmuel

    It’s interesting that I’m reading this now…

    I just found an old copy of Pearl Jam’s “Ten” in CD wallet my parents brought up to me a few weeks ago. “Black” still brings me to tears…


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