Do you ever listen to a song and realize that it describes your life so perfectly, you wonder if the artist was secretly in your head?
That song for me is “Beauty of the Road” by Future Islands. I can’t help but get emotional (and a bit philosophical) every time I hear the line, mid-song, when he says:
“You spend your whole life wishing & working, all you get is the end of the rope…”
This got me thinking about life, death, meaning, and love…
It got me thinking about all of the people, including myself, who assume we’re going to die when we’re old and retired, so we spend our lives saying “I’ll do that one day…” as if that one magical day in the far future is guaranteed.
That one magical day when we wake up and say “today I’m going to do all the things I’ve wanted to do. I’m going to pursue my passion of…I’m going to tell everyone I love what they mean to me… I’m going to…” and so on.
Unfortunately, that day isn’t guaranteed, and it only tends to happen to people once they get a death sentence of sorts (like in the movie The Bucket List—they find out they don’t have much time to live so they go skydiving, drive a Mustang, etc.). But in reality, we all have a death sentence, we just don’t know when it is.
I was going to write this post about how to live a meaningful life, including tips like “have an impact on someone, follow your heart, allow yourself to feel emotions…” but instead, I’m just going to take my own advice and embrace my emotions.
The more I listened to this song, the more I realized what it’s about. It’s not just about living your life in a less-than-ideal way until you wind up at the end of it. It’s about pursuing that ideal life and, while pursuing it, realizing that you lost what you were searching for. More specifically, it’s about being young and going after your dreams but then losing certain things because of going after the dream (e.g. love).
Life on the road is a beautiful thing. It’s filled with excitement, passion, new experiences, constant change of scenery, self-discovery. You almost feel invincible, like death can’t touch you, but if it does, it doesn’t matter because you’re living in a dream anyways.
But those are all similar feelings to being in love, which is what this song is about. When you’re young, you have big dreams and want to do whatever you can to pursue them, even if it means losing some things. And what you don’t realize when you’re busy pursuing your dreams is that sometimes the things you lost are what you’ve really been searching for:
“You spend your whole life searching and find the thing you’re looking is what you lost so long ago…”
I really believe that love is the purpose of life, it is what gives people purpose, and it can take many forms. You might love music and traveling, like the lyricist of this song did, so you do everything you can to pursue it (like join a band and hit the road). But if you love music and traveling, you aren’t necessarily searching for music and traveling, but the feeling you get when you pursue music and traveling. And sometimes that feeling is the same feeling you get when you’re in love, but you don’t realize it until you’re at the end of the rope and looking back at a dream achieved and a love lost.