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The Harmony Of Memories And Melodies, by JJ Wiparina

To the world, a classic; to my parents, a symbol of their boundless love; and to me, Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls is a celebration of life, a remembrance of my mom. With my mother’s recent passing, I find myself putting this song on replay, like a broken record that refuses to reach the pinnacle of a song. It’s all so cyclical. As I listen, one moment is like a rock in my throat. The next, I’m playing catch across the couch with our fondest memories, avoiding despair beside us.

“Iris” is a cut that needs no introduction; you sing your heart out to it, your mom won’t shut up about it, and your mom’s mom whistles to it — a passage to life, per se. Delving into “Iris,” I discovered it was a song written for a character in the film City of Angels (a late 90s fantasy-romance film starring Nicholas Cage) that adhered to the concept of humanity and muddied their boots in the waters of morality and love. I find this endearing, paralleled by my appreciation of the fragility of life and the acknowledgment of death’s role in the human experience. For this next chapter of my life, in the absence of my hero, “Iris,” will serve as a guide alongside the unwavering love that my mom left behind.

The character presented in “Iris” mirrors our own journey in a way. We, as humans, use introspection to navigate the depths of our emotions, especially love. The lyrics in “Iris” speak of a longing to sacrifice and to endure life’s obstacles to feel the embrace of love, a feeling that resonates strongly in my relationship with my mother. She had SMA 2 (spinal muscular atrophy) and had been wheelchair-dependent all of her life. Because of this, she was always down to the ground and felt incapable of giving out proper physical affection, like hugs. Eventually, she struck gold and landed on a chair that could extend up to five feet. For the first time in her life, she could give a proper standing hug, a symbol of breaking the physical limitations set upon her. In this moment, I connected this theme of seeking and cherishing love and how it aligns with our innate ability to interpret and appreciate art in various ways. 

Like the character in “Iris,” art is a medium structured like a canvas always open to interpretation. Art is inviting, shepherding us to dig up the roots so we, as the audience, can pull out our own personal understandings. Likewise, the character in the song yearns for that human connection and what it means to experience love. It’s this magnetizing pull to understand things that make for an individual’s desire for art; for all of us, our experiences, emotions, and perspectives — all of this engraves one’s understanding of art. 

In this harmony of memories and melodies, “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls will forever be an anthem in my life, a family heirloom. All it takes is one person’s melody, strum or stroke to leave an impact on you. So, what does art mean to you? Why should we care about the melodies that liberate our souls and the words that speak to our hearts? 

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