I’m fully and utterly wrecked from the inside.
I’ve been listening to 周興哲 Eric Chou’s song, “你，好不好?” (translation: how have you been?) on loop and as I’m writing this post, I’ve lost count, but think I’m around the 17th time.
Where do I even start how much my heart hurts, yearns, loves, smiles and aches all at the same time?
The lyrics, the melody, the music video and all of the YouTube comments from the community are so incredibly touching and gut-wrenching in a way that I can’t fully describe. I cried my makeup half off my face, my heart jumping to burst out of my body from the sheer emotional pangs. The feelings of loss and regret combined with the passage of time, the nostalgia and remembrances of the idiosyncrasies of a loved one took me on a journey today.
The Music Video (Watch Below)
The video starts with an older man visiting the resting place of his loved one, his significant other. While walking along the forested path, he thinks about her and wonders how she is now in relation to back then, if she’d still be running late, pulling all nighters and not sleeping well before work the next day as experienced in their youth. He is filled with remorse, wondering if everything is his fault.
The older man is taken back to vivid memories of their time together as youngsters, chasing each other around playfully in the lushness of that same tropical forest, twirling and spinning each other, smiling at one another, just existing together.
The video flashes to the older man envisioning his younger self and back to his older self, remembering and reminiscing over the time passed and the memories he’s stored away. He looks at photos, looks up and seemingly is transported back in time where he can visualize his loved one as clear as day, as if she were standing right there with him, as if he were once again young and by her side.
In desperation for his loved one, clinging on to the memories wishing them to come back to life, he sees his young self embracing his loved one. We witness his older self, reflecting and longing for those past times. He wishes to be together again – fighting again with her, spending time with her, crying with her, laughing with her. He twirls her around, dancing back and forth between the passage of time that is his youth and his old age. Memories flash back readily, and he is filled with the regret of not having taken care of her well enough, wishing she did not leave him to be alone mourning her via the worst lesson of all, the very loss of a loved one, wishing to return to that specific timeframe when they were still together. He remembers and knows he would do anything for her and wants to know how she’s been.
Suddenly, the young couple holding each other feel the warm grasp of their interlocked hands releasing further and further apart.
As the older man crouches over his loved one’s resting place, umbrella in hand amidst the rain, a torrent of memories flood in and he cannot help but wonder how his loved one is doing. He cannot help but wish to have her by his side like the good old times.
As the older man closes his eyes in the leafy shadows with sunbreaks streaming through the forest, he laments silently in an agony and a simultaneous peace, sensing his loved one’s hand on his cheek.
These Lyrics Though
I love getting to know the Chinese language more via song lyrics. I’ve been working on getting better at my Chinese over the past few years and listening to music really helps. Often, I can read most(-ish) of the lyrics and then there are expressions and characters I don’t know, so I’ll hop into Pleco to look it up or just go on Google Translate to figure out the definition, pronunciation and then practice writing and saying it out loud for reinforcement.
I wanted to share a few of the lyrics that spoke most to me, for one reason or another. If you’re curious to understand the meaning of the song, here’s a pretty decent site that translates the Chinese meaning into English! I’m sharing some of the translations to my favorite lyrics that really transport and take the listening to a place. Keep in mind these are not meant to be exact translations but my interpretation of what is fitting for the mood and tone of the song and what it’s trying to convey. (Also, I’m an ABC still trying to grasp an understanding of the Chinese language so bear with me as I learn too!!!)
能不能繼續 對我哭 對我笑 對我好 繼續讓我 為你想 為你瘋 陪你老
Translation: Can’t it continue? You smiling at me, you laughing with me, you being good to me. Could we continue to allow it? For me to think of you, to go crazy for you, to grow old with you.
Let’s dig a bit deeper: The lyrics in this part of the song come into play right after the older man has been reflecting on his loved one, feeling quite remorseful. The music breaks out into a hopeful and longing feeling at 1:13 where he wishes for the continuation of the couple’s past together. He truly longs for her smile, their laughs, the way they were with each other, thinking of one another, going nuts for each other and just growing old together.
Translation: Regret burning through my heart
Let’s dig a bit deeper: The lyrics in this portion really got me. Cue ugly crying. Right beforehand, the older man is desperately clinging onto the memories of his loved one and his intense remorse is felt at 2:21, where the pain is as if a drill were burning a hole deep into his heart. How many times have we felt that exact pain, that vehement pang of wishing to turn back the hands of time, of regret and of sorrow? He knows he cannot reverse time but the desire to do so pierces through his soul, his very being.
Translation: Allow us to return to that split second moment in time
Let’s dig a bit deeper: The older man continues to reminisce about the good times and the ups and downs. He almost seems to say to his loved one, please don’t teach me the worst lesson of possible – losing you, as he yearns for that specific time when they were together at 3:21. It doesn’t really translate to split second but to me, it conveys that feeling as if the memory and moment is but elapsed, the old man barely able to hang on to it, symbolizing his deep desperation.
Translation: How have you been?
Let’s dig a bit deeper: Through the older man’s journey to visiting his loved one’s resting place, he is taken waay back. It is a process of remembering, interacting with himself and struggling to overcome his feelings, to processing his remembrances of their times together to wishing it all to come back. He asks throughout the song, “How have you been?” at 2:02, at 3:26, at 3:51 and at 4:26 as if to keep the memory of his loved one alive, remembering her and therefore through the acts of remembering and feeling, keeping her memory alive and sensing her at his side.
More Than Just a Music Video
After listening and watching the video multiple times and reading the lyrics many times over, I’ve continued to be in a wreck. It’s been ebbing and flowing and at some points in time, I’m okay if I just try to focusing on learning the Chinese characters I’m not familiar with. If I dissociate myself from one or two components of lyrics, melody or video imagery, I’m okay. But the second I start thinking, reflecting, watching the video again and feeling the same pangs the older man in the video felt, I become a wreck once again.
Music has a way of tugging at the heartstrings. When paired with impactful and deep-resonating lyrics that build upon a universal human sentiment, in this case the experience of loss, it has a way of moving so profoundly that is simply extraordinary and inexplicable. I reflected while listening and I thought about my dad losing my mom and what he went through. I thought about my grandpa losing my grandma and his experience of loss. I also thought about my own experiences of losing both my mom and my grandma and the painstaking feelings I had then and continue to experience in different manners. And I felt for anyone who has ever experienced a loved one leaving this earth.
Reading the comments for the video, I was also so moved by all of the stories and remembrances as well as encouragement that people shared. I think this song has a way of expressing how so many of us feel when it comes to losing a loved one. I often wonder how my mom would be now. I see our interactions from the past and I long for shared moments in the future.
I see her idiosyncrasies, the way she would smile and give hugs whenever my brother and I went home. I can hear the tambour of her voice, comforting and articulate, welcoming and soft, yet pinpointed and hardhitting when necessary. I can sense her shyness, her utmost care for others, her way of putting everyone else before herself and I can just feel the excitement she would have for finding a good book or doing something with purpose. I know her by her dedication and her love she showcased to my grandparents, her parents, always thinking of their needs. She was thoughtful and considerate, a beautiful soul who left this earth too early (at age 59) and I miss her dearly.
I know a lot of people always say that they think of their lost loved ones every day, but I quite honestly sometimes haven’t. At times I’ve pushed away the memories because I’m sad and so scared to think about my mom because I loved her and love her so incredibly deeply that I couldn’t unearth all of the emotions and experience the grief of loss over again. At times, it overtakes my ability to function like a normal human being. Other times, I will think of her fondly and imagine old memories, or imagine her voice or her hug or how she would say my name when I was being scolded to her sincere and soothing voice when she would give the best advice. Mom, I couldn’t possibly sum up how much I miss you but I’ve been thinking of you so much recently. You’re in my dreams, my thoughts, my heart and so much more.
This song really opened up a lot of wounds in a way but also a lot of hope. I think it’s okay to sometimes dwell a little bit in emotions. Not in a way where it is crippling, but in a way where it helps one to deal with something painful and to feel something for me is a way to remember, to open up a window to something that was extremely meaningful to me.
Thank you for this moving and emotionally wrecking song, Eric Chou. To all those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, I wanted to call this post “_____, how have you been?” because I think we all wonder how our loved ones are doing. We all reflect and interact with the past and memories will resurface for us. Be kind to yourself and process the emotions and may _____ be doing well.