Keep It Together, Don’t Lose It

When did it all get so complicated?

Simplicity is the foundation of beauty’s worth to the beholder. As we’ve progressed in life, that value has become a complex cost of happiness. We seem to take for granted the small things that add meaning to our lives.

Childhood memories become nested nostalgia as we grow up and realize that life was much simpler then. Some of us have had the privilege of swimming in pools with our best friends, having cookouts with our family, and leading late night conversations with the people we cared for.

Lily & Madeleine, an incredible folk-pop duo, reveal the significance of simplicity in their music. I imagine that their lives have plenty of complications. Both young ladies are on the cusp of adulthood; they seem to have a family and friends to spend time with, and yet they are on the road touring. It has to be challenging and frustrating to play a balancing act at every moment in their lives. But like their most recent album title suggests, the sisters somehow manage to Keep It Together.

From the beginning of “Not Gonna,” they seem to be balancing everything from personal and external expectations to being on the road, all to end up at “Nothing.”

Three songs revealed to me the three key aspects of keeping things relatively simple.

In “Hourglass,” time is crucial. Time seems to go on and on, and Lily & Madeleine are pleading: “let me stay where I am.” They realize that precious seconds are passing, but the moment they are in, currently, has to be treasured. And if the time continues to pass, they’ll “turn it over when it runs out.” The measurement of time does not bind their moment. The significance of an incredible experience is not coddled by how much time we spend, but by the quality of time spent.

“Midwest Kid” reflects on the amazing and miserable moments these sisters had while growing up in the Midwest. As Lily & Madeleine echo the sentiments of happiness, boredom, and sadness concurrently, it is “crazy how I feel so much older; time screwed me over.” Maybe there is regret lingering about the decisions made when they were younger. Possibly, that grief constitutes why they value time so much. But they will do their best to forget about the wasted time in the past because the moment is here now. There is nothing complicated about reflecting on the past, as long as we do not let it disrupt our current experience.

Living for the moment is something we all should strive for, but it means nothing if we are not emotionally vulnerable and aware in that experience. And in that vulnerability, we will need to communicate how emotionally connected we are to an issue. “Small Talk” reveals how important it is to deliver an emotional message effectively. Even though Lily & Madeleine are describing a guy that has a hard time initiating conversation, this spoke to me in a different way.

I know that I am not one for small talk. In fact, quality time is incredibly important to me as I am interacting with others. Sometimes I feel that the idea that most people have of “small talk” is a complete waste of time.

When most people elaborate on “small talk,” they usually tell us to initiate the conversation by talking about the weather, sports, or national news. But where is the emotional connection? If I ask someone how they are doing or feeling, I am opening up an opportunity for a significant connection to occur. But what I’ve realized is that people are afraid to open up in fear that they will lose control and cannot keep it all together. We’ve been conditioned to think that our emotions are a detriment to us; that they are too complicated to contemplate.

But it is those exact feelings and sentiments that keep us sane, authentic, and simply beautiful. Lily & Madeleine have said themselves that Keep It Together was an incredibly emotional and vulnerable album. They kept simplicity at the forefront by being emotionally connected.

Life has its complications. We are multifaceted as humans, and there are many complex ideas that we were created to figure out, but it does not mean that we have to live complicated lives. When we do not have all the answers to the newest challenges, we must not lose what we already have. Keep it together.

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