Story of My Life: Korach and Rejection

At work they make fun of me for having the listening habits of a 16-year-old girl. What can I say I often get sucked up into the vortex of melancholy lyrics?  This holds true for “Story of My Life” ,a song recorded in 2013 by English-Irish boy band One Direction. I have nothing good to to say about the music or the video, but today I am still thinking about the lyrics.

The song opens with the following lyrics:

Written in these walls are the stories that I can’t explain
I leave my heart open but it stays right here empty for days
She told me in the morning
She don’t feel the same about us in her bones
It seems to me that when I die
These words will be written on my stone
And I’ll be gone, gone tonight
The ground beneath my feet is open wide
The way that I’ve been holdin’ on too tight
With nothing in between

The narrator is reflecting on his life and on the walls he has his memories. He is reflecting back to his younger days and trying to make sense of girl breaking up with him. There is nothing special to remark on a boy-band writing a song about a break-up or even waxing nostalgic about their teen years, so why am I interested in this song today?

I was thinking about this song because of the episode in Korach, this week’s Torah portion, when the ground beneath his feet is opens wide. What if anything does One Direction add to our understanding of the Torah?

Clearly One Direction’s metaphor of being consumed by the ground is Korach’s reality. In a deeper way it is helpful to understand that Korach is acting like a teenager. In his own well curated imagination he should be in charge. It is not that he was not allowed to make a bid for leadership, but he is ultimately consumed by rejection and he holds on too tight and cannot back down from his drive toward leadership. Unfortunately in the case of Korach, the song Story of My Life, and in life we need to make sure that we leave our hearts open even when we meet rejection. We know we will not always be successful, but despite or even because of this fact the story of our lives should be filled with memories of being vulnerable and openhearted. That is what is means to be living a full life.

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