Why Pink Floyd’s Time Is Humanity’s Epic Rock Anthem
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
...Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
I discovered the music of Pink Floyd when I was in High School. A local planetarium hosted a laser light show to the music of Pink Floyd on the weekends, and my best friend suggested we go.
I recall wondering where this music had been all of my life, why I was only now experiencing it. And accompanied by a laser light show made my introductory experience surreal.
The Dark Side of the Moon album was featured in its entirety, in order of song tracks, and I thought the band must have written it while high on drugs and while watching a laser light show. The synchronicity was too perfect.
I would think the same thing a few years later while in college, only this time that the band must have written the music while high on drugs and while watching The Wizard of Oz. The synchronicity was, again, too perfect.
If you haven’t experienced either, you should. Whether you include any chemicals in the experience is a personal choice. But like a good meal, I would suggest trying it first without the extra salt—it just may be perfect as is.
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
The song opens up with layers of multiple clock noises. Fun Fact: I learned recently that each clock was recorded separately in an antique store in London, and then blended together. Their sound engineer wanted to use the clocks to demonstrate a new quadraphonic sound system, but the band ended up using it to open the song instead.
The song is about how easily and quickly time can pass us by, and without most of us even realizing it until it is, well, too late. And when it’s too late, what is it that most of us will regret with the final moments of time we have left?
In The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, she relates what her years working in hospice care revealed to her about what people thought about their time on earth in their final moments.
According to Ware, the top five regrets people have when reflecting on their life, at the end, are:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Consider that number one regret of the dying for a moment: the courage to live a life true to oneself, and not in the shadow of someone else’s expectations. Let it sit with you. (we should let them all sit with us, but it’s that first one that I spend the most time with)
I have always thought of Time as one of Pink Floyd’s greatest contributions to music, if not to philosophy and our understanding and interpretation of the meaning of our lives. It is that love and appreciation of the music, and a pursuit to live a life true to myself, that brought me to The Moth back in 2016.
You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today
The Moth is a story slam forum. Five minutes on stage, in front of a live audience, without notes, to tell a story. There are Moth affiliates in a number of cities across the country, and I discovered the experience while living in New York.
Some friends and I had been showing up at the Moth’s weekly story slam events in New York City, listening to stories, and thinking about whether we ever wanted to be one of the brave individuals who jumped up on stage and told a story to hundreds of strangers.
Upon arrival, if you want to tell a story, you put your name on a piece of paper and drop it into a bag. Each night, only ten people would be invited on the stage to tell their story.
The first few times we showed up we simply listened. Admiring the courage. Enjoying the stories. Applauding the vulnerability.
But then we began preparing stories, in advance of the next event we attended, and dropping our names into the bag hoping (and fearing) we may be called that night.
There is a different topic for each event. A single word, like “Dreams” or “Resourceful”. And you build your story around it.
On one particular week, the topic word was “Age” and I drafted a story in the hopes of being called. I wasn’t. The following week the topic word was “Ink” and I thought my story for “Age” worked just as well, if not better. So I didn’t change a word and showed up with my story sufficiently practiced in my mind.
And on this particular night, after the first two storytellers were called up on the stage and delivered their stories, my name was called.
This was my story. Told to about two hundred strangers on The Bell House stage in Brooklyn, New York.
Pink Floyd’s Time, Sherlock Holmes and Living a Life True To Oneself
July 6, 2016.
I had always wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
Last month, it was my 40th birthday, and I started that day as anxious as I had ever been about my age. Thirty didn’t bother me. Thirty felt “mature”.
Forty was feeling “old”.
I turned on the radio to the local rock station before I jumped in the shower. There was a Pearl Jam cover, then something from the Chili Peppers. But just as I’m turning off the water, the chaos of the multiple clocks from Pink Floyd’s Time start to ring.
Now I am not at all a superstitious person. I don’t believe in ghosts or in mediums. But looking back on that day, I do believe at that very moment the universe was rapping at my door. Reminding me of something.
Something I wasn’t supposed to have forgotten.
And not only that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album was written to accompany the movie The Wizard of Oz.
29 to Every Woman I Dated in My Early 30s Until I Was 36
Hearing the song that morning, I remembered the very first time I heard it. I was in college. My roommate was screening The Wizard of Oz on mute, with Dark Side of the Moon in the background. And if you have never done that, the lyrics and the music are supposed to align perfectly with the scenes in the film.
For example, at the start of the song Time those ticking clocks begin just as Ms. Gulch is pedaling to the farm to get Toto…which, if you looking for the synchronicity we were back in college that night, is supposed to symbolize that the little dog’s time is up. Or Ms. Gulch’s time is up. Or Dorothy’s time is up.
In college, that song quickly became an anthem for what I (thought I had) promised myself I would never suffer from.
If you don’t know the song, some of the lyrics go…
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
I promised myself when I was twenty years old in college that I would never waste my time doing something I didn’t want to do.
Well ten years later, by the time I turned 30, I was still asking myself “what do I want to be when I grow up” and feeling like I had already abandoned what was supposed to be my path.
That’s when I started lying about my age, trying to hold onto the youth that still had a chance of realizing a dream.
I lied about it for so long and so often, I even lost track of it myself. I mean, I was 29 to every girl I dated in my early 30s until I was 36. With each new year I felt like I should have accomplished far more than I had, and I was always ashamed of not yet having done something great with at least one of my childhood dreams.
That I was running out of time.
What Zorro, the Pope and Sherlock Holmes Have In Common
When I was five years old my dad introduced me to Zorro. For the next two years I fought imaginary enemies with my plastic He-Man sword (I also loved He-Man, and it was the only sword I had).
And every Sunday night I tuned in to the next episode of The Adventures of Zorro on TV, mesmerized by the stories, how Zorro never cared about the danger, and how he always survived.
Then when I was seven, being Catholic, I decided like all good Catholic boys that I wanted to be the Pope. The nuns teaching us in school had told me that there was no higher position in the church than the Pope, so that’s where I set me sights.
But not just any pope.
I still played Zorro during the day. So my mother had fun telling the family that I was going to be the first sword fighting Pope. I assumed I would kill the bad guys with my plastic sword, and then bless their dead bodies with holy water.
But it was the following year my father gave me my first Sherlock Holmes book. I read practically every story inside that book that year.
And that’s when I started writing my own stories. When I was in the fourth grade I added a new chapter to “The Hound of the Baskervilles” where I had the hound kill Sherlock Holmes. It was years later I understood that meant I couldn’t write any sequels if I killed off my protagonist.
By the fifth grade I had started writing bad poetry. By the eighth grade I was journaling almost daily (though at that time I knew it as “keeping a diary”). And by the time I graduated high school I was, for fun, writing about topics I had studied and found interesting.
By the time I got to college I had stacks of marble notebooks, mostly journal entries and some bad poetry. When a counselor asked what I wanted to study, I said I enjoyed history and wanted to be a writer. Without much conversation they advised I major in either Literature or History, and minor in the other. So I did.
And when I would be writing anything for a class I would do so with Pink Floyd in the background. I loved how the music would transport me to a place where I could be creative.
I was certain that when I graduated I would be working with writers. Working with them so that I could learn how to be one myself.
Staring Out The Window I Imagined from My Cubicle
Upon graduation, I applied to every publishing house in New York. Only one replied to me. Only one offered me my only interview. It was for a three-month internship, and I took it. My first real job. And for a publisher in New York City. I was as excited as I had ever been about anything.
But I quickly found out what people mean when they say, “the pay sucked”. It literally sucked money out of my pocket. It cost me more to commute daily from Long Island where I lived to New York City for the job, than the job paid me for the internship.
One day, about two months into the internship, at the fax machine I found a flyer for a job with a recruiting firm. So I called. Scheduled an interview. And was hired.
What exactly did I do as recruiter? Convince high paying executives at Fortune 1000 companies to consider the job opening at my client’s firm. To trade their six figure per year job for one that paid a little bit more.
And I promised myself I was going to write at night after work and on weekends. To work on my great American novel in my spare time.
It was my second “real job”, and I believed I had done good. I traded up my salary by more than three times what the internship was paying. I traded up my cramped shared work table in a small office in Greenwich Village for a Park Avenue office in a high rise building. I trade up my jeans and t-shirt for a three-button suit.
And though I didn’t know it at the time, I also traded my love for writing for my first of several corporate jobs. Because the money was better.
Did they get you to trade Your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change? Did you exchange A walk-on part in the war For a leading role in a cage?
from Wish You WereHere by Pink Floyd
Those hours I used to spend writing I now filled with working longer hours for the company that paid me. Eventually I felt like maybe that passion I once had for being creative in writing was dead.
That I had killed it.
So hearing Pink Floyd’s “Time” on my 40th birthday, I couldn’t help but feel like it had always been written for me.
While you are young, Anthony, life seems long and you may think there is time to kill today But one day you’ll find Ten years have got behind you No one is ever going to tell you when to run
I was forty years old. Another ten years were now behind me. And I felt I was still waiting for someone to tell me in which direction to run.
I wasn’t the pope. Or a sword fighter. Or a famous detective. Or a writer.
I was just another guy in a cubicle dreaming about when he had dreams.
And I’m Not Throwing Away My…Shot
Later that night at an early dinner with a friend, she surprises me with theater tickets. We’re going to see Hamilton.
And if you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil the ending for you (but he dies). And in the theater, it felt like the universe was again reaching out and tapping me on the shoulder.
I’m hearing the actors sing about having one shot in this life, not wasting it, and making it count for something, and thinking about how my day had started with Pink Floyd’s Time and how it was ending in a broadway theater with me wondering…
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman, Impoverished, in squalor Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?
And by the end of that day I was ready to connect the dots…
You WERE young and life WAS long and there is NO MORE time to kill today One day you’ll find AGAIN that ANOTHER ten years have got behind you And if you don’t tell yourself to run, no one will
I had just spent over two hours learning how Hamilton never accepted that just because he was young and that life seemed long he had any time to kill today. And for that matter, I was also admiring how Lin Manuel Miranda more than likely admired Hamilton for the same reasons.
Both seemed to refuse to wake up one day and find ten years had got behind them. Waiting for someone to tell them when to run.
So I woke up early the the next day and I started writing again…
Half a Page of Scribbled Lines
A little more than halfway through another ten years behind me since I shared that with strangers. Still running. Still trying to catch up with the sun. Still sharing random shit with strangers imagining they care about what I have to say.
And still working on a life that will not share any of the top five regrets people have when dying.
If none of the above has encouraged you to stop what you are doing (if what you are doing is not what you want to be doing) and start doing what you believe you were put on this earth to be doing, then do this:
Press the play button here, close your eyes, and then just listen for the next three minutes and nineteen seconds.
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