Have you ever listened to a song where the lyrics mentioned a specific age that seemed really far away and talks about the songwriters experience at that age? I just had one of those experiences.
In high school I listened to a mediocre electro-industrial band named God Lives Underwater, (I actually created that page, way back when) who I thought were one of the greatest things to happen to music. (Admittedly, they made some catchy stuff.) They sounded a bit like Depeche Mode meets Nine Inch Nails and I thought they were “gritty”, “advanced”, “unique” “underrated” and probably some other words that get thrown around by pretentious high school music fans. In reality all of their albums were about heroin addiction and produced on equipment that you could find in any aspiring twenty-something musician’s bedroom.
This didn’t stop me from developing a love for their song called “23”. The seventh track off their sophomore effort Empty, it's the one “slow” song (basically just a synthed-up loop for the verses and then an acoustic chorus) on an otherwise extremely sonically harsh album, which meant that I immediately labeled it “deep”, “emotional”, and “super good”. The lyrics go something like this:
I'm breathing the air
the air i always breathe
I don't have a lot
but i want someone to share it with me
I really only want a few things
they've all been taken away
what does the next life bring
I just want to feel o.k.
I'm searching forever
for someone or something
I want to be high
and i want someone to love me
I spent 23 years now
trying to get by
other people make it day to day
I still wonder why
I only really had a few things
they've all turned to tears
one tried to kill me
the other kept me
i'm still here
It’s so painful and hopelessly full of cynical optimism that I almost want to burn myself with cigarette butts in a way that the scars form a smiley face.
Listening to the song reminds me of not only how far my musical taste has improved, but of what kind of person I was before Jesus saved me. Obsession with the hopeless turned into a passion for God; depression was slowly replaced by joy. God Lives Underwater, a band I liked eight years ago, serves to remind me of what my life was compared to what it is. I was fifteen then. I am twenty-three now. I pray for joy, love, compassion, and wisdom in the years to come.
I recently attended a spectacular wedding of two high school friends, which was a nice treat in the middle of an otherwise predictable summer of work and cycling. The nature of weddings (gifts, dressing up, being clean and fresh) and the ceremony being a good 17 miles away made it difficult to make the trip by bike, so I borrowed a car. Being able to use a car was really helpful and saved me a lot of time. However, it did remind me of why I love to bike as much as I do. I think about the car/bike debate a lot, and while driving I had a new insight into why I prefer cycling.
On a bike, you don’t have speed limits.
Not relevant ones, anyway. (Actually, one of my life goals is to be issued a ticket for speeding on a bicycle. I can probably achieve this if I find a hill where upon descent I can hit 30+mph and then zoom into a 15mph residential zone.) More to the point, you don’t have limits on your “engine”. You go as fast as your legs will take you. If you are tired, you pedal at tired speed. If not, you pedal at normal speed. Regardless, you are pedaling at maximum comfortable output. This sounds simple, but it’s actually really liberating to not have to worry about how fast you’re going. So liberating, in fact, that I was experiencing a sort of anxiety over driving a car on the highway. Having to worry about going too fast was actually a painful psychological experience. Add to the the lack of wind blowing past me and the isolation from surrounding traffic, and I was mildly claustrophobic as well.
Driving is turning into a genuinely distasteful experience. Maybe it’s time to look into a cargo bike?