Far Beyond What Eyes Can See
Death only arrives as the moment of truth for the reckless who wasted their lives. One should never wait until taking his final breath before trying to understand the meaning of life. Of the many existential questions asked that cannot be ignored with impunity, the nature and existence of God is most certainly one. When life is seen as a pursuit of truth leading to the understanding of the divine, any artistic endeavor even remotely related to this quest has deep existential significance, music being only one such example.
Music that addresses the depths of the human heart while exploring our place in this world has always been of special interest to me. Being raised in an extremely stratified and unequal society, Rock always spoke to me of rebellion against an illegitimate, temporal authority whose power only enslaved and destroyed the human spirit. When interpreted by well-educated ears, in no way did it contradict my Christian beliefs because the rebellion advocated was never against God himself. So long musicians are treated as artists, and not lionized as religious saviors who influence behavior, dictate moral values, and manipulate consumer preferences, there is great meaning and enjoyment to be found in the art they produce.
Rock always served as a personal reminder that many of the values of this world were never my own. Even Christ himself advocated having enmity with a world that frequently stands in defiance of the Gospel. From the lyrics, melodies, harmonies and rhythms that accompanied me since early childhood, I learned to extract all I could to render this pilgrimage through life considerably more entertaining and meaningful. When compiling a soundtrack for the various stages of my life, many bands and musicians could be recalled, but doing so in any significant depth would be a time-consuming endeavor of questionable value. My only desire today is to profess my undying appreciation for a musical genre that accompanied me since my early childhood years, explaining in broad strokes the contribution one such band made to me.
Pink Floyd accompanied me through some of the most contemplative moments of life. More than any other band, they always inspired me to think and position myself before society. Not only did they help me question the purpose of my education, they also awakened in me a deep feeling of alienation that proved so disconcerting at times. David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and friends were not in the business of selling a false sense of bliss and blind security. They questioned instead why so many were so inexplicably miserable despite the many trappings of modern life. As Jim Morrison might have said, they spoke of the loss of God while wandering and wandering through a hopeless night. This was not a rendition of my own personal tragedy partly because of all the music taught me to avoid. Cautionary tales are not meant to be ignored, nor is darkness meant to be embraced and glorified.
As dark sarcasm invaded the classroom, perhaps the tragedy of modern life began in school. When first taught the purpose of our education was simply to become “another brick on wall”, instead of passively accepting our fate, the music commanded us "not to give in without a fight". Growing older, as several friends succumbed to their personal demons, we longed to tell them to “shine on, you crazy diamonds”. We longed to see them resume their journeys despite having their self-esteem shattered by the hardships of life, the passing of time, and the distancing from God. We wished the presence of our long-lost friends could still be felt, despite so much in life that kept us apart. Before exchanging our heroes for ghosts or trading a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage, we simply longed to tell them we “wish you were here”.
We were told to believe the dreamt of success in life was just the “dark side of the moon”. “Time” was never on our side as we ran after a sun that was eternally sinking. The most we could hope for was to feel “comfortably numb” while “running like hell” to survive in the vain hope of perhaps someday attending the “great gig in the sky”. Of the many things “money” could buy, true happiness most certainly was never one. More than a “momentary lapse of reason”, the sobering realization that so much in modern life was so deeply wrong compromised our interpersonal relationships, leading only to “sorrow”.
While some embraced silence out of self-preservation, others spoke without listening, never taking turns, never truly communicating. An entire album, “The Division Bell”, was devoted to the mishaps of human communication, an attempt to take the “pulse” of modern man and determine if a heartbeat could still be felt. Despite still having “high hopes”, we were “lost for words” while “wearing the inside out”. Being “poles apart”, all we could hope for is to “keep talking” while reminiscing about another “great day for freedom”. Feeling “marooned”, when words could simply no longer carry a tune, Gilmour's guitar kept on talking, and no other guitar ever spoke to me like his black Stratocaster once did.
This short rendition of events is merely a collage of Pink Floyd songs that accompanied me throughout the years, proving to be so inextricably related to my personal experience. If much of what is tragically wrong was aptly noted, little of what is sanctified was ever revealed. Eternity itself was only contemplated upon reaching the final stage of the band's career when laconically referred to as an “endless river”. Pink Floyd offers the solace of knowing that those of an earlier generation suffered through many of the problems still afflicting us today, but when it comes to offering solutions, this music should be saved for another day. Despite being arguably the best rock guitarist of all time, Gilmour´s instrument has yet to offer the hope his words so often deny.
Sometimes we must create what in the world we can never find, what truly makes an artist great should never be left behind. Having set my own guitar aside in distant years past, the day when music died should not forever last. Of all my many sins, for one I must atone, the day music wins must now be set in stone. So much still remains that should one day be said, breaking of the chains one must brave the road ahead. Always moving forward to a new destination, music is never cornered by the forces of stagnation. If only by ambition is a musician so harassed, the future can never be a mindless repetition of the past. To an entirely new sound only a few may hold the key, so much beauty can be found... far beyond what eyes can see.