February 2010; the Winter Olympics. I've never been a sports guy, but the Olympics that winter produced one unexpected moment of satori. AT&T ran an ad that used Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" as its soundtrack. When it came on, my wife and I got misty and made eye contact as our hands reached out and entwined fingers.
Years ago, we were on holiday in Scotland. We spent the better part of a morning trying to figure out how to get into the garden of an immense park in Edinburgh to visit the National Portrait Gallery. It was a hot summer day and the park seemed to be shut tight, although we could see people walking around inside through the open slats in the high wrought iron fence. We were getting irritated and hadn't thought to bring a bottle of water.
I was snapping at my spouse, an unfortunate habit, and she was glaring. Then a
car passed slowly by, one of the few we'd seen that morning. The windows were rolled down and the tape deck (remember tape decks?) was blasting -- "Oh it's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you."
Everything changed. We smiled and relaxed. Lou's phlegmatic voice was calm and soothing. The sun was suddenly kissing our skin, a warm breeze came up, we found each others hands and in a few steps, the gate we'd been searching for appeared. We didn't have sangria in the park that day, but we had each other. We'd both loved "Perfect Day" before that afternoon in Scotland, but from then on it was one of "our songs." It transformed a mundane irritating morning into the morning of a perfect day.
When I heard Lou Reed died on Sunday, I cried. Like many of the people reading this, I was touched and transformed by his music, songs that will resonate for me as long as my heart beats. His death gave me the gift of tears, and made me remember that every day we're alive is a perfect day. All we have to do is open our eyes and hearts to the beauty that always surrounds us.