spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureBooks I own but haven't written
Whenever I feel the urge to write a book, I sit until a title arises. The book for which this blog entry could be a chapter goes by the title Full of Vowels and Consonants: Signifying Nothing. Perhaps it is my Masters Degree in Style and Rhetoric that obliges me to undertake this close reading of the first line of the Beatles’ song “We Can Work It Out” – “Try to See It My Way.”

Unlike the paper I wrote for my Masters in S & R, a solo act, if you want to play along, you may. To get started, speak the line aloud as if it matters. You have some choices in how the words get said.  If you can move your head outside the song itself, you could adopt a querulous tone, like it’s not the first time you have suggested this. Emphasize the “try,” dragging out the word until it sounds six to ten letters longer. Let your voice be whiney. You might mentally add an exasperated “please” in front of the “try.”

For an alternate reading, place the emphasis on “my,” implying that in the past you did your fair share of listening to the one or ones whom you now address and, with some expectation of fairness, you rely on an unspoken hope for reciprocity.

To continue, I am assuming a relationship between the original speaker and the significant other(s); ergo I locate the nexus of the problem with the pronouns, both present and missing.

Of the four sentence types, this one under consideration is an imperative sentence. It gives an order to someone unnamed but open to hearing it. I assume so because the song continues, suggesting that whoever received the first line hung around to hear the next 31.

The unincluded “you” at the start of the line is a big mistake, relationship-wise. As another song suggests, “It takes two to tango.” And to omit the necessary other  indicates to me that the other doesn’t matter as much as the intensity of the asker’s need to get his needs met, regardless of the feelings of the “unnamed” other.

Consider “Roxanne!” by The Police: “Roxanne/ You don’t have to put on the red light…. The first line shouts the woman’s name. The second line shouts “You.” It doesn’t assume she knows to whom the words are addressed. Roxanne has to know the words are for her. The intensity of that energy signifies deep almost “I-Thou” intention, ala Martin Buber. Roxanne hears herself named about 25 times. There can be no mistake!

From the get go, then, without a named recipient, the Beatle’s line “Try to See It My Way” reveals itself to be hopelessly self-centered, uttered by one whose desperation is directed toward relieving private angst, pain that results from not being understood. This resonates with me. I don’t like it one bit, myself. It seems to happen often.

Now let’s consider the pronoun “it”. Somewhere is the referent, the situation or meaning that “it” denotes. Do the two in this one-sided plea understand what the “it” is that needs to be seen “my way”? I doubt it. This lack of specificity strikes me as purposefully vague and intended to put the other at a disadvantage as her or his mind searches for what exactly is “it”. Her or his “it” might not coincide with the singer’s “it.” A more relationship-savvy person would have clarified “it” and dissipated the surrounding vagueness.

And last but not least is the real problem pronoun “my.” Buddhist studies invite me to grapple with confusion arising from being “me” and not being a “me” who is a separate self. I am the “me” of causes and conditions and this “me” is a delusion that will clear up once I get it. In the Beatles’ “Try to See It My Way” line the confusion presents itself. Since all are one and not separate, the singer’s way is the same way as every way or at least not a way to be insisted upon as the right way. Clearly, it is one way and saying so would be a more open way of asking to be heard.  

I hope my exegesis on the first line of the Beatles’ tune helped to clarify issues you might be having with your own communication. Although I am, as always, open to alternate explication, please try to see it my way. Thank you.

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