Something struck me as I frantically bounced from session to session at SXSW this year. Besides a debilitating case of FOMO and a better understanding of what a terrible planner I am, I realized just how exhilarating it can be to live in a constant state of open-mindedness to new experiences, new learning, and new perspective. Here’s what I’ve come up with this week.
Lesson 1: There’s always time to learn a terrible new word.
While reading a recent article in The Atlantic on the psychology and emotional state of being a sports fan, I was totally distracted. The writer hit me with an exciting new word: gluckschmerz, the sadness one feels because of another’s success or happiness. Most of us are familiar with its rhetorical kissing cousin, schadenfreude, the delight we take in another’s misfortune – but it’s nice to see we’ve now got a way to extend the shade we throw if our unfortunate friend ever turns things around for the better.
Lesson 2: Wade through the shit to find the shine.
On the final day of SXSW, I took a flyer on a bunch of bands playing in a bombed out old building. The code enforcement officers cased the place during the show and threatened to shut it down because there wasn’t running water in the men’s urinal trough and the toilet was out of order. The locals said the place was a flophouse that had been closed for years and that the event organizers slapped a fresh coat of paint on it the night before to provide a space for bands. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. I like the story.
One of the bands that took the stage, though: A dude bedazzled in country-glam garb on guitar. A woman in sequined cocktail dress slinging percussion mallets while tap-dancing on a bass drum. Together they coaxed out a crunchy strain of disco-billy that was intoxicating. What business did they have being here in this place that has probably hosted more murders than music? Hell if I know. But I’m glad I stuck around to find out. Watch them: