Shakespeare divided the lives of man into seven ages. In each, we go through drastic changes to our lives. Since the dawn of man, which we could perhaps still describe ourselves as being in, we have recognized these by celebrating them in different ways: birthday parties, marriages, funerals. They all represent fundamental changes in our lives, when we pass from one stage to the next.
On the other side, there are many of us who have difficulty accepting these changes in our lives and react to the switches that are occurred by them. It may be a simple desire not to organize a birthday cake or an elaborate wedding party, but it may be much worse indeed.
A more recent type of transition has been the creation of graduation. At the end of each level of schooling, a little piece of paper celebrating the accomplishment is printed out and the student advances towards his next place in life. As one progresses through most educational systems, the options for the next part of the experience grow. The bus no longer picks you up and drops you off. It is up to you to make decisions and take control of where you are going in this sphere of your life. And this is quite liberating to all those who hated learning about sentence or cell structure and were waiting for this freedom, because freedom is the appropriate word to describe it.
However, the problem can lie in the time between the graduation and the beginning of the next step to take, whether it is a scholastic endeavor or not. The rupture with the previous lifestyle can be devastating to some. The American movie Old School is a testament to that. There are so many people that are not in the right place in their lives. For some, their environment has created this situation. For others, a lack of control on their own actions has slowly constructed the result over a long period of time. Maybe it is as simple as a few mistakes during their freshman year.
Freshmen – The Vervepipe
This feeling of being caught between two stages of life can not only lead to a confusing time in one’s life, but also to quite a traumatizing one. As the world continues spinning, it is possible to get the sentiment that it is goes round and round without letting us jump on board. Or worse, we can get the dizzying feeling that we are trapped in that spinning without being able to get out, like a child on the carousel-type ride at the park being spun by a friend who doesn’t understand the screaming words “it’s going too fast”.
It is extremely easy to get caught in this type of dilemma by living day by day, by accomplishing the simple tasks that are necessary for the next day to pass. This can continues for months, years, decades, lifetimes. For some people, all that can be done is go with the flow and see where the river leads. The ride is relaxing and the end predictable, but you might not see the waterfalls coming.
Max Weber, in his best-known study, put forward the idea that Protestant societies are more likely to be capitalistic because of the values of Protestantism where the individual is at the centre, rather than Catholic societies where submission to authority and security are key elements. Though there is no pretending that the current interpretation is that of a learned scholar on the topic, it is possible to see traces of this today in some ways. Certainly, some people are more tempted to take risks, change the status quo and make a fuss when something isn’t right. On the other hand, some people are more reserved, happy to keep the routine for fear of ruining what they already have, with no desire to break the rules that keep them in line. There is no passing judgment here, but there is questioning to and from people on both sides of the divide.
The Motions - Subb
The desire to rupture with the continuation of a life heading into oblivion can be felt by anyone. One night while performing, Emily Haines of Metric fame announced to her audience: “I don’t want to sing sad songs anymore”. At that moment, she ended that part of her life, that uncertainty, and decided to take control. She said: “I’m really scared (…), I don’t know, where my life is going, (…) what I’m doing”. Rather than continue on that path, she stepped out of the life she was leading in order to find out where she wanted to go with this and went to Argentina. There, she penned a song about the entire ordeal.
Help, I’m Alive – Metric (piano version)
A television program from the province of Québec, Les invincibles, portrays four young men who are looking to make an important change in their lives. In the first episode of the series, they each have a task that they must accomplish at 9 pm, when their blue watch beeps: they have to break up with their current girlfriend. The show starts with this premise and the next episodes and seasons are all based on the results of that initial action.
It is one thing to come to the end of a stage in your life when you know it is ending. Most people have their retirement planned months if not years ahead of time. But it is completely another to have this rupture occur without knowing it is going to happen or at a time when one is unprepared. The tragic ends of relationships have been the subject of countless movies, status updates, blog posts and deaths.
Much is made of trying to break unhealthy habits and relationships. Companies sell products to end the addiction to nicotine and television programs dramatize the end of bad relationships with tears and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. In music, a rupture can bring about some of the most powerful images and sounds in existence and surely, some that have yet to be written. For so many people, music has the power to transform and the power to inspire. And when in a situation where difficulties seem like they will not go away, music can be the greatest comfort. There is comfort in the strum of a guitar.
The Cycle – Distant Society
The idea of a mid-life crisis, when someone realizes that they have been living their life the wrong way and that they need to make a change, is very real. The first part is to recognize the need to stop going down a reckless path or to simply take a more pleasing one. This may take various forms, from getting a divorce to buying a Harley Davidson motorcycle. However, the most important part of the process is going through with the difficult task of making the change and taking the risks necessary to make improvements in life. It isn’t easy to give everything up in exchange for a second chance.
This difficult situation could be called rupture anxiety. Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard called anxiety the “dizziness of freedom” and in many respects, that is exactly what it is. Faced with the overwhelming possibilities of the world that surrounds us, it is difficult not to feel small in this universe. Take a look at the stars on a clear night and it is impossible to feel anything but a sense that we are but a small part of this universe, but that we can do whatever we want within it.
Many of the people who will read this are lucky enough, or have managed to work towards living in a society that is relatively free. There, work ends at a designated time and after that the freedom to explore and change the world can be overwhelming. A good number of people prefer to hide away, dizzy and lost at the true impact they might have if they would act in the world. Then they grow old and only a few reflect on what they could have done. Where to be in all of this?
Could We Start Again Please? – Mary Magdalene and Peter (Jesus Christ Superstar)