“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?”
…are the opening lines of what is perhaps Rent’s most iconic song, “Seasons of Love”. I had heard the song many times before, yet had never actually seen the musical, so with a few hours of free time last night, I watched it for the first time online. To fill in for those of you who haven’t heard of Rent (I’m sorry, that’s absolutely tragic), it’s a Broadway-based musical about a group of young artists living in New York City, and their struggle to survive with HIV/AIDS and poverty. As intermission ends, the performers onstage begin the second act by singing this wonderful song.
How does one measure a year? Not by numbers, figures, or any arbitrary scale of time that can be easily shown on a clock or timepiece. No; as the song so beautifully portrays, it’s the things we do with our lives that count, and reasonably, that’s what they should be measured by. The characters know that their limited time on Earth is short- and much more so due to their illnesses. They NEED to fill their lives with something, anything, to make their experience of being alive surreal and worth it. Roger, for example , wants to make “one great song”, something that he can put his name on and call his legacy to what he considers at that point an otherwise empty life. But even Roger is prone to sometimes forget that even the things we do and are remembered by aren’t necessarily the things that make our life worth living. Assuming so would mean that the most prominent figures in history had the best quality lives; and by just a brief study of these historical figures, it’s easy to see how false that assumption is.
So if it isn’t creating this great legacy, what is the most important value in life? Don’t get me wrong: I already said at the top of the previous paragraph that the things that you do in your life DO count, and they can serve as a measure of anyone’s life. But I don’t mean to say that the actions you carry out are the sole factor in this measurement. Is that confusing? Well, I’ll explain: it’s not just what you do in your life that makes the time spent living worth it, but the connections you make with other people that these actions bring. When people realize this and begin to live their life accordingly, their years will no longer be measured by the number of five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes series their health can sustain before kicking the bucket, but rather “In daylights, in sunsets; In midnights, in cups of coffee; In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife”.
“Measure your life in love”
Thanks for reading!