I like all kinds of music. My iTunes account has all genres, from Mozart to Eazy-E. I like to plug my iPod into my car's audio system, hit "shuffle" and enjoy the quasi-random selection of tunes that play. One of those songs is called Ends by the musician who calls himself Everlast. The song itself was released in 1998 on the album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. I downloaded it years later, when digital became the norm.
I mention this song not because it's super-deep or has hidden messages, though it is a sad commentary on how the pursuit of money can end badly. I mention it because, even though I was well over 30 when I downloaded the song, I chose to buy the "clean" version that has just about every controversial word replaced with a sound effect. When I listen to it now, at age 42, those sound effects are annoying.
Why did I buy the clean version? It's not because I am super-conservative or a devoted Christian or that I have the delusion that my ears are "virgins." It's not because I don't curse or am offended by curse words. Back then, I bought that version because I thought I should.
It made me feel like a better person by purchasing the song with no naughty words in it. My mother would approve. My pastor at the time would approve. The image I had of myself approved. However, what I really wanted was the explicit version. Not because I wanted to giggle at the bad words. Not because I was a rebel without a clue. I wanted the explicit version because it was the original, genuine track that the songwriters wrote and the artist sang in its purest form. And, with songs like this, the "naughty" words are kind of important - they are slang words that give more meaning and feeling to the message. But I bought the clean version anyway. You know, because that was the right thing to do.
This is a small example, but how many times do you deny yourself what you really want because you're afraid someone else won't approve? That your culture or the society you live in would scowl if it knew? Every time we deny ourselves things like this - things that won't hurt anyone and are purely for ourselves, we're denying who we really are in favor of who we'd like others to think we are. Those acts cause an imbalance in the Force, if you'll pardon my geekiness. You're left with a strange, slight feeling that something's not right. You are not being congruent with your genuine self.
If you'd like to get to the point where you stop caring what others think, there's some great advice out there. One of my favorite articles to read and re-read was posted on a blog called Purpose Fairy. It's called 15 Reasons You Should be Independent of the "Good" Opinions of Others. I don't want to re-invent the wheel here, so check it out. Not caring what others think as long as you are following your own moral compass gives you something that can be very scarce: a sense of freedom.
Excuse me now while I go visit iTunes and download the original version of Ends. You can watch the video here and listen to it if you'd like. Just know that there are some naughty, naughty words in it, in case you're offended by that kind of thing.