A song as this one is fitting as my time at Catholic University nears its end. The song is one of the most beautiful indie songs that I have ever heard (though, of course, don't forget that The Shins can save your life. That's a story for another day). I listen to it usually because it has the sound as though it were Exit Music for a beautiful film, a film where the narrator has reached his or her penultimate understanding. The credits fade as the protagonist is seen walking to his or her destination, leaving us to wonder where that life is leading and what he or she plans to do next. Maybe I am alone in such a notion, but my many nights as a Boy Scout watching the campfire burn itself out helped me find the spiritual depth of a flame - even if it just remains combustion.
However, thank God for Rock Genius. The lyrics for this song (though some of them are wrong - my comments are already there!) were confusing at best, but the page and its contributors helped reveal that this song is precisely about this stage in my life - a growing responsibility, and the dimming of youth's unbridled fire. The fleeting and fearful nature of a campfire, representing the fears present in the unsettled life, are the same fears that I took with me on many bus rides, move-in and out days at college, and lifestyle change - too many to count! How can one feel settled and confident when his or her place of residence isn't even steady, and the norm is to travel hundreds of miles, sometimes way too often, for the sake of tying all my homes together? It is the perpetually futile attempt at complete deseverance (or "bringing close" as said by Heidegger. Check out this link and look up the word) that has become my life story.
And what does many a college student do but waste, waste away that flame of youthful vigor on such a weird life! The strength and vigor of young life is dulled by alcohol, drugs and various lesser addictions when we tear our structures apart in search for "purpose". A friend of mine recently disclosed that he had to block Buzzfeed on his computer. Here he is, studying the glories of knowledge, and his struggle is reduced to blocking Buzzfeed! This isn't a judgement on him, for many a night and day has found me and many more students on Netflix, Facebook's news feed, and other places across the internet. The sedentary life drilled into students in grade and high school is emulated well in the college life, something that should give pause when we consider how our adult lives will become the lives of extinguished flames of youth - probably further on our bums, taking in more of the sedentary life. We sit, and we die.
Yet there is also a joy when the flame of youth begins to dim, and responsibilities begin to be present. We carry our own weight. We look upon the glories of our youth and learn to rejoice in all they were, good or bad. The flame no longer burns us as it once did, forming the "creases on our face" from the "endless need of games." Finally, we accept old age with the same joy we accepted the flame of youth, a flame that will be rekindled for the eternal youth of heaven. As I withdraw from college (still planning to finish, but entering the work-a-day world of personal responsibility), I am at the same place as the singer in this song: seeing the responsibilities of life slowly burn out the carefree yet burdensome nature of my youthful flame. The flame has long to go before it burns out, but at least the brightness and heat won't burn my desire for peace and maturity any longer.
And as I make a decision that can still be propelled by the positive elements of my youthful vigor - the decision to face the tide and do what I feel I must do - I hope it can be a solemn reminder that those who still have such a youthful flame should act with resoluteness in their own lives. For a candle's fire is only just a flame, and no one knows when the winds of change, fear, or complacency will blow it out.