A drop of water in an endless sea is okay by me.

I’m a sucker for traditionally classical instruments in rock songs. Metallica’s “No Leaf Clover” played with a full symphony is probably my favorite example, but it’s not alone. This week I was transported by one of those songs, back to days long before I could put words to such preference. A song can do that. Take you back to a place and a time, the feeling of sun on your face, a breeze through a half-open car window, smelling like something close to home. You see the half-constructed jug-handle turn near the newly-built Pizza Hut…when Pan Pizza was a new thing. Your eyes stop seeing what’s in front of you for a second, a moment from years past so close you might be there now.

That’s what happened when “Dust in the Wind” – the original Kansas version – shuffled up in my playlist this week. I’ve heard it plenty of times, but in this second my eyes glazed and I was a 10-year-old in the back seat of my parent’s car. I was telling my mom how beautiful I thought this song was. The premise made sense to me, and the violin lifted my soul. She disagreed, the thought of our mortality being horrifying. But I liked everything about the song.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now, decades later, I can understand how a mom might not appreciate the thought of us being mere dust in the wind with quite as much relish as her 10-year-old. But when I heard it this week, a different line grabbed me, and for a different reason. “Just a drop of water in an endless sea.”

You see, just before the song played, I’d gotten a notification that a high school friend had accepted an old Facebook invitation I’d sent. I felt instant joy at the memory of her smiling face, and felt we were connected again despite years of being out of touch. We had gotten to know each other in classes in high school, and connected only briefly after graduation. A few letters and calls here and there. Even during high school we’d seen each other mostly during school days. But seeing that Facebook notification I thought how much better my high school years had been having had Deb in them.

I mouthed a “thank you”, grateful for her bubbly personality, and the many laughs we’d shared. Some were predictable – like when she would arrive at the cafeteria and ask me if I’d remembered that we had a vocab quiz in English in about 25 minutes. I’d always forgotten, and would frantically grab the word list just in time, thanks to her. I can still hear her saying, “Dohhnnnaaaa, not again?!” It’s beautifully ironic that I became an English major in college, but that’s probably thanks to Deb, as well. Those reminders helped me place out of entry level English classes in my first college year. I’d replaced them with a literature class I loved so much. It inspired me to switch majors. The choice served me well.

Perhaps we are just drops of water in an endless sea. But each drop ripples, and our effects on those we touch are significant. If our voices and actions reverberate and resound, I’m glad the sea is endless. It just means our impact is that much greater.

While I still love the violin solo, the music, and the vocals of “Dust in the Wind”, I now disagree with most of its other lyrics. It’s not that they are horrible to think of, but that I no longer believe in their truth. I’m lucky enough to have crossed paths with so many who impact other people and our world in positive ways. Buildings we build may crumble, but the good we do for others remains. We are not specs of dust. We are remarkable. We are drops of water, water we all desperately need.

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