“everything is everything”

I happened to catch a snippet of a conversation this afternoon that got me thinking about a number of things. No, I wasn’t eaves-dropping — I told you I feel creepy about doing that, but when people are speaking in their outside voices near me, well, I tend to be able to hear what they are saying, right? So this conversation went the usual route of generic greetings:

first woman: How’s everything with you?

second woman: Oh, you know, everything is everything.

Whoa. Everything is everything? Everything is everything. I love it. I don’t know what it means, but I love it. I could call my friend Jeff and use my cultural void card, but somehow, I don’t think this is an American idiom. Still, it stayed with me because there was something familiar about it. So of course, I used it as part of the poetry unit I’m currently teaching. The students have to put together a presentation, and I did a little search for some samples. I found it!

It’s a line in a Bruce Springsteen song, post 9/11, that speaks to the missing in the aftermath. It’s a pretty amazing song:

Well, here’s the exceptional part. The students loved the video, but pointed me in the direction of another song, this one by Lauryn Hill > Perhaps, dear reader, not your style here? Probably not, but I invite you to broaden your horizons a bit:

My favorite part of the whole exercise? They drew the following conclusion: “everything is everything” is the bridge, in the present, between the first video which mourns the past, and the second video, which is hopeful about the future.

How ’bout that?