For the last few days, Iâ€™ve been obsessed with this one song. Thatâ€™s not strange, by the way, me being obsessed with one song for days at a time. But this one feels different.Â
I love the music (especially the drums), but itâ€™s the lyrics that wonâ€™t leave me alone. This passage, repeated a couple times near the end, is particularly mesmerizing:
Tears in my eyes
Chasing Ponce de Leon’s phantoms
So filled with hope
I can taste mythical fountains
False hope, perhaps
But the truth never got in my way
Before now, feel the sting
Feeling time bearing down
The song is called â€œInvincible,â€ and itâ€™s from the band Tool. It appears on their latest album, which is their first studio recording in more than a decade. The song is a damn-near 13 minute epic (on a record filled epics). Musically, it spans the breadth of Toolâ€™s career; lyrically, it spans a lifetime.
â€œInvincibleâ€ is about aging, about the grinding weight of years piling up on our shoulders. Itâ€™s the story of a man–a human–summoning the strength to wade into lifeâ€™s fray, and to do so like they did in days of old. Boasting of youthful accomplishments, trying desperately to hide the signs of timeâ€™s ravages, they â€œlurchâ€ into the fight to claim the spoils they know theyâ€™re owed. Itâ€™s an elegy, one filled with raging defiance. But itâ€™s also a reckoning.
Itâ€™s a reckoning with the inevitability of age, and an admission that we humans will always keep fighting for the crystal waters of youth. Even when those waters are a mirage, we will fight. What else can we do under the crushing sting of time, as we feel it bearing down?
Look, I know Iâ€™m not an old man. Not yet. I know Iâ€™m still less than half the age to which the average American male can expect to live.
But Iâ€™m older than Iâ€™ve ever been before. And the days of my youth are, like my hairline, only receding further and further into memoryâ€™s fickle embrace.
So, if Iâ€™m not old, then what right do I have to be so maudlin over the lyrics to a song about, well, being old? Well, I may not be old. But I know how much of my life Iâ€™ve wasted.
My twenties should have been the time for living like this, living like I actually want–like I have a real desire–to be alive. Instead, my twenties were years I spent figuring out ways to avoid life. I would say I spent that decade devising â€œnew and novelâ€ schemes for abdicating my responsibilities as a human. But thereâ€™s nothing new or novel about alcoholism, and there was nothing new or novel about the pain I was too busy fleeing/protecting.
I wasted my twenties, and was wasted throughout them. Looking at it from this angle, I can see now that I was always scared of something. Scared of my past, scared of my emotions, scared of trying and failing.
Honestly, Iâ€™m still scared. Iâ€™m scared shitless. Only now, Iâ€™m scared of losing more time. Iâ€™m scared of feeling lifeâ€™s grinding weight just get heavier and heavier, yes, but Iâ€™m more scared of what that weight will consist of. Will it be a weight of self-inflicted misery, a metric-fuckton of guilt and recrimination that kills me? Or will it be a weight of full days, a balance of meaningful images that sustains me?
Iâ€™ll always keep striving to find my fountain of youth, and Iâ€™ll always fight against timeâ€™s unceasing pull. And thatâ€™s OK. Thatâ€™s as it should be.
I should be fighting for more time, because now I finally want more time.