THE BLOG

How Carly Simon's Song "You're So Vain" Helped Me Keep My Resolution to "Contemplate the Heavens"

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

One of my principal resolutions is "Contemplate the heavens." It comes from one of my favorite quotations, from Boethius: "Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things."

It can be hard to contemplate the heavens during the tumult of everyday life. And what does it even mean to contemplate the heavens?

I had such a moment today.

I was working in one of my favorite diners, Pisa Pizza, and Carly Simon's song "You're So Vain" began to play over the loudspeaker.

I've heard this song a million times, of course, but this morning, for some reason, I remembered a very specific moment of listening to it.

I was a little girl. My mother was driving us to Milgrim's grocery story. The song was playing as we turned into the parking lot, and I distinctly remember looking at the big blue apartment building across the street, as I listened.

The interesting thing about the memory is that I remember what I thought about the song at the time. I remember not recognizing the word "gavotte" (which remains fairly obscure), I remember being puzzled about why the man's horse would have "naturally" won, I remember thinking that the line "my dreams were clouds in your coffee" made no sense at all.

Why did this memory make me contemplate the heavens?

It made me feel very deeply, for a moment, the passage of time. Once I was a child, now I am an adult. I understand things better than I did.

It makes me think, once again, that only the fact that life unfolds very slowly preserves it from being unbearably poignant. The days are long, but the years are short.

If you'd like to read more about happiness, check out Gretchen's daily blog, The Happiness Project, and join the Happiness Project group on Facebook to swap ideas.