Time – Pink Floyd

At some point (most likely multiple points) in a person’s lifetime he or she will experience the feeling that time has passed him by. Perhaps there was an opportunity, a risk that could have been taken, that he refrained from and therefore missed out on the benefits of taking that risk. Or maybe he has just realized that he is no longer who he once was in the past – he is no longer in the spring of his youth, he has outgrown interests that he once had, he is not the person that the younger him would have expected him to be, etc. This concept is embodied in Pink Floyd’s “Time”, which describes the passage of time, how its meaning is different to people of different ages, and its devastating impact on the human race.

Pink (literally) Floyd

From left to right: Richard Wright, Roger Waters, Nick Mason, and David Gilmour.

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

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”

As a youth, there is too much time. There is so much life ahead and so many opportunities, therefore, many feel that there is no hurry. There seems to always be time to put things off do in the future. There is so much time, that there is no need to spend it wisely. There is time to spare doing nothing, wasting away simply because you can. As youths, many of us are lost and unsure of what to do, so we do nothing. Teenagers are no longer children, but they are not adults either, so many of them still want things spoon fed to them. Not all are ready to take action for themselves and choose not to do so because they have not yet gained a sense of urgency. Many people reach adulthood and still have not gained this sense of urgency. At some point, there will be an awakening when the person realizes how many opportunities have been missed by idling away without a purpose.

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death”

When a person realizes that their time has not been spent meaningfully, the sense of urgency kicks into overdrive. To “run and run” to “catch up with the sun” is to push oneself (often in vain) to reach a goal that had been repeatedly put off for the future. They try to catch up with those that have surpassed them and are close to or have already attained their goals, pushing themselves even harder, but it is unlikely that any good will come of it. Even if you somehow manage to catch up with the sun, you may realize that you don’t enjoy it quite as much as you thought you would, and then even the time you thought you were spending being productive was actually wasted as well. By now, your youth is far behind you and you may no longer be able to participate in activities that you used to enjoy. Even worse, you may find that you no longer find joy in what may have once been one of your favorite pastimes. You no longer feel like the same person and you have undergone these changes without accomplishing anything meaningful. All that has happen is that you are “closer to death”.

Trying to chase down a goal is like being a coyote chasing a roadrunner. You devote all of your time to a single pursuit but all you get is pain without ever getting what you want.

“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say”

Because so much time has been spent struggling to reach your goals, you now put off time to enjoy yourself. All your time is spent for work, which may not even be meaningful to you, more like “half a page of scribbled lines”. You live simply in hope of finding any moment of spare leisure time, but these moments grow increasingly rare. Life has essentially become an endless routine. There is no longer a purpose, you are simply a wind-up toy, traveling forever in one direction until eventually your time winds out and you stop for good without ever having done anything of any significance during your lifetime.

A wind up toy can only walk in a straight line, never deviating from the path that it was set to travel upon by whoever wound it up and set it on this course.

This cycle is seemingly endless and unavoidable, but there has to be some solution? Some way to lead a fulfilling life?

This question is answered in the song’s final verse:

“Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spell”

To be “home” is to be the place where you find the most joy in your life. It may not even be a physical place, it could be with a person or a thing (home is where my guitar is), or, if you have truly found peace, it could be within yourself. Really, we all have the capacity to be at home with ourselves, just many of us are afraid of embracing it. In other words, find what it is that makes you happy in life and stick to it. That way, your life will always have a meaning and purpose. The last three lines describe people who spend entire lives seeking something incredibly specific, thinking that once they have achieved their goal, they will attain happiness. Instead of finding happiness by knowing themselves and what is fulfilling to them, they follow the path of what another person has deemed to be fulfilling, listen to another person’s philosophy on life, and essentially do only what makes someone else happy, but not themselves. By trusting the words and doctrines, or the “softly spoken magic spell”, which is supposed to miraculously grant you happiness is absurd because the secret to a meaningful life is already within yourself. You know what makes you happy, you know how to bring purpose into your own life. That doesn’t mean you should forsake ambition (believe me, I overload myself with work and perfectionism everyday, I’m an expert). Looking for meaning in life is exactly the same as when you are looking for a physical object: you don’t just look for it in the places that its supposed to be, you look all around you, even in the most ludicrous places, because sometimes it is in unexpected places that we find what we’re looking for.

Essentially, my message for you today is to know what it is that makes you happy and fulfilled in life. Then, all you have to do is keep up with it and you will never feel empty. It is most definitely good to have ambitions, but do not let your goals blind you from what other wonders the world has to offer. Keep a wide perspective, look in all directions, and the world will forever be young and never cease to amaze you.

As usual, many thanks for reading my blog and kudos to Pink Floyd for creating such a timeless (I’m sorry, I just really needed that pun) masterpiece. This is my own individual interpretation of “Time” and if you have your own opinions, please share. Furthermore, I would like to credit playthemannotthegame for my inspiration for this post “Time Flies“. Once again, thanks so much and go on and get out there and find purpose in your life.

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