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Uncomfortably Alive

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  • Uncomfortably Alive

    1982. Dave Leonard’s basement on a Friday night.

    Bare feet, I ease down the steps into a smokey lair, fresh from a gymnastics meet. Minutes earlier, I’ve swapped androgynous white tights and a blue tank for a beat up flannel shirt, puka beads and jeans tattered with holes that’ve been earned, not bought. I have hair. My God, do I have hair.

    I kick back on a well-worn futon in the corner. Bandanas drape lamps on either side, blanketing the pulsing womb with a warm-red stoner glow. I don’t smoke, but the vibe drinks me in. My eyes close for a moment as my head relaxes back. The trippy, evanescent sound of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb fills the air and drops me into another place.

    As a kid I think the song is about drugs. Now, later in life, I realize there is something much bigger, more pervasive and even darker being offered:
    Hello,

    Is there anybody in there?

    Just nod if you can hear me.

    Is there anyone at home?

    Come on now

    I hear you’re feeling down

    Well, I can ease your pain

    And get you on your feet again

    Relax

    I’ll need some information first

    Just the basic facts

    Can you show me where it hurts?

    There is no pain, you are receding

    A distant ship smoke on the horizon

    You are only coming through in waves

    Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

    When I was a child I had a fever

    My hands felt just like two balloons

    Now I’ve got that feeling once again

    I can’t explain, you would not understand

    This is not how I am

    I have become comfortably numb

    I have become comfortably numb

    O.K.

    Just a little pin prick

    There’ll be no more aaaaaaaah!

    But you may feel a little sick

    Can you stand up?

    I do believe it’s working, good

    That’ll keep you going through the show

    Come on, it’s time to go.

    There is no pain you are receding

    A distant ship smoke on the horizon

    You are only coming through in waves

    Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

    When I was a child

    I caught a fleeting glimpse

    Out of the corner of my eye

    I turned to look but it was gone

    I cannot put my finger on it now

    The child is grown

    The dream is gone

    I have become comfortably numb.
    The last three lines in that last stanza. As I reach the middle years of my life, it makes me incredibly sad.
    The child is grown

    The dream is gone

    I have become comfortably numb.
    Because, for so many, being comfortably numb describes the increasingly futile state of modern-day adulthood. One defined not by engagement, connection and elevation, but by surrender, regret and isolation. Accompanied by the desire to numb the pain of walking away from who you are, why you’re here and what stirs deepest in your soul.

    Our drug, our “little pin prick,” though, is not acid, weed or LSD, or meth or molly. It’s something far more socially acceptable, which also makes it vastly more insipid.
    We numb ourselves with a PIC line of pharmaceutical-grade busyness and denial.
    One that comfortably insulates us from the pain of a life that values propriety, order and the illusion of security over the lightness of possibility, expression and potential.

    I love the feel of the song Comfortably Numb. The transcendent vocals, soaring guitar and effervescent chorus that transport me back to that kid in the corner of Dave’s basement. A time when everything, every option lay before me. The world was expansive and inviting, mine to paint and build and play and make.

    But, the words. Those words. A powerful reminder of how easy it is to slip into a life of quiet resignation, medicated by pace.

    Being an adult is neither an excuse, nor a mandatory sentence. There is always choice.

    I’d rather be uncomfortably alive, than comfortably numb.

    You?

    +++

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    The post Uncomfortably Alive appeared first on Jonathan fields.



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