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Thursday, July 12, 2018

White Flagged

Dido's "White Flag" has stayed with me since I first heard it, and it remains a favourite, even though it makes me profoundly sad. I can never be sure of how to read the song properly. On the one hand, it seems a bit pathetic; here's a smart, talented woman pining over a man, vowing that he's the only one she'll ever love, even if it means being alone forever. And yet, if she stays true to that vow, part of me really admires the purity of her passion and her determination. I guess I love the song because it feels authentic, revealing a truth little-remarked upon: there are people out there who spend their entire lives single, either because they never found the right person, they're genuine loners who don't feel any need to mate, or, like the character in this song, they found the right person but the love isn't reciprocated. (The music video, of course, intimates that the object of the singer's affections does indeed return them, but you can't tell that from the lyrics alone.)

In many ways, this song speaks to a very powerful emotion that I endured for much of my 20s. Unrequited love is painful, but there's also something sweet about it, and even, perhaps, noble, as long as you really do manage to keep it to yourself to spare the object of your affections the awkwardness of having to reject you. On the other hand, there's a strong vein of cowardice and passive aggressiveness weaved into that narrative, too.

Something to think about. And a good reminder to myself to reflect on how lucky I've been to have love since meeting Sylvia. 

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