Sunday, November 23, 2008


It's easy to lose track of time. This life that we lead, this world we inhabit, are like centrifuges. If you don't put your hand out and STOP things, everything just speeds up until you're hanging on for dear life. You find your overdraft is so big that you can only live off your credit card, and when you max out your credit card, you pay the monthly instalment by taking out a second credit card and robbing Peter to pay Paul. The noose tightens around you tighter and tighter until you become this black hole of debt, regret, time and confusion.

I recently bought a DVD from the "Classic Albums" series, and settled back to watch Messrs Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright explain "The Dark Side of the Moon."
At one point, Roger Waters discusses writing the song "Time." He describes it as "very lower-sixth" (high school) and marvels that he got away with what he clearly thinks is facile, teenage stuff.

"Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain;
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today;
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but its sinking,
And racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in the relative way, but you're older:
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."

Later on, he remembers how his mother believed that childhood and adolescence were all about preparing for a life that was going to start later. And, as he says, "I suddenly realised that life wasn't going to start later, it starts at dot, and happens all the time. At any point you can grasp the reins and start guiding your own destiny."

With all the bad news and apocalyptic headlines these days, guiding our own destiny seems a bit of a tall order. The last time there was a recession like this I was in high school, and being a typical teenager it didn't really affect me. My parents probably worried and fretted endlessly about keeping everything together and paying the bills, my father may have stressed out about keeping his job but me, all I worried about was the next weekend.

Well, twenty-something years later the shoes are very definitely on the other foot. And those of us who've spent the last two decades forging careers and climbing corporate ladders are probably thinking back to the last recession and saying, "well, it wasn't so bad, was it?" Well, maybe not, but we didn't have mortgages, careers, kids, bills and an uneasy feeling that perhaps we made some wrong decisions.

But the sort of troubles we face today can't be fixed by "guiding our destinies" or by "running to catch up with the sun". They just take strength and resolve. Neither of these things are time-sensitive, and neither of them require a particular degree of insight in a youthful mind. "Time" really isn't what it's all about. And while I may be stretching a point here trying to link this song with the sort of worries that we are dealing with today, the line "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way" seems to me to send the wrong message - but then I'm a lot older than Roger Waters was when he wrote the song.

"Time" is, though, a miraculous song. A true SongWithoutWhich, even if I'm uncomfortable with its sentiment. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Betty C. said...

"Every day is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time..."

One of my favorite lines.