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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: Growing pains: an ode to awe


Often, I find myself awestruck by human creativity. The human race is capable of a lot of things -- some beautiful and some horrific. This week, I caught a glimpse of the good side.  

Sitting in class on a Tuesday morning is extremely ordinary for most people on this campus. But the 15 or so people sitting in the basement of the Musical Arts Center in MUS-Z404: The Music of Bob Dylan, were extraordinary.  

One by one, my peers approached the projector to present their projects: a creative reflection of a Bob Dylan song. The only directions were to be creative, to think for yourself.   

[Related: COLUMN: Growing pains: life is a patchwork quilt]

The first presenter nervously shared an acoustic cover of “Girl from the North Country.”  

“I’m not a good singer,” he said, "so just bear with me."

He pressed play, and the sounds of muffled acoustic guitar began to flow from the speakers. The artist in the front row anxiously tapped his foot to the beat as the song played. Sharing creative work is a vulnerable endeavor, but I thought he had no reason to be nervous. I was in awe of his talent. He was a great singer. 

The next presenter did a cover as well. Her voice was angelic, and she played her own guitar with skill and passion. I was in awe.  

Another read a Jack-Kerouac-style poem series. One poem was entitled “Coffee.” I didn’t know it was possible to describe morning coffee so eloquently, so accurately, so impressively. I was in awe.  

Then there was a painting inspired by “Tangled Up in Blue.” Then a digital drawing inspired by “Visions of Johanna.” Then a collage inspired by “Masters of War.” Each creative interpretation was vastly different, yet equally awesome. It was one of those moments that makes you feel like you’re capable of anything because those around you have inspired you more than you thought was possible. 

The most awe I felt that day was when someone presented a house remix of “Winterlude” by Bob Dylan. 

 “I wanted to challenge myself,” the artist said.  

He chopped Dylan’s vocals and layered them over a beat he’d been working on for a while now, he explained. If you’ve never listened to “Winterlude,” I highly encourage you to do so right now. Think to yourself how it could be possible to splice a song like this into a genre that is the polar opposite of the Dylan canon. I was simply in awe.

[Related: COLUMN: Growing pains: learning to dance alone in college]  

I’m no music theorist, and I’m hardly a qualified critic. But hearing each song, poem, and remix, and seeing each collage and painting sparked something deeper than just critical appreciation. It was fearlessness and vulnerability and immense talent. It was something that the word “awe” doesn’t fully capture.  

It’s April 3, and the big trees are beginning to flower again. The sun sets at 8 p.m. Another season has begun, and winter has retired to a distant, soft snowy memory. Maybe it’s something about spring that awakens our sense of awe. Maybe it’s the incredible people we pass on our way to class, not knowing just how incredible they really are.  

Often, I find myself in awe of the people and places and things around me. It’s hard to beat the mundane, typical Tuesday morning. It’s easy to forget that the good side is all around you if you only look up. 

Audrey Vonderahe (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism and criminal justice.

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