I’m always talking and writing about how poetry can lift one’s spirit and assist in understanding a person’s place in the great Universe. But, when I ask groups to read and try to analyze poetry, it seems as though they have flashbacks to tenth grade English and they immediately shut down. So, I stole an idea from music therapy, lyric analysis, to get people writing about song lyrics. For me, lyric analysis is the same thing really, as poetry analysis, especially in terms of meaning.
On the way to work the other day, I heard “On the Turning Away,” by Pink Floyd. I’ve always dug the guitar solo, but when I heard the line: “Don’t accept that what’s happening, is just a case of others’ suffering, or you’ll find that you’re joining in, the turning away,” I couldn’t stop myself from yelling, “EXACTLY!” I was alone in my car.
That line describes what I see almost every day: apathy. Really, addiction seems to be someone else’s problem, especially to people who haven’t experienced the challenges that addiction presents. When I speak to groups of academics, for example, about the prevalance and impact of addiction, they almost seem to look at me through lens of disbelief. I mean, people know addiction is a problem, but on a macro scale, no one really gets involved. Even therapists who I would expect to care a bit more than the average person, will shake their heads when I say things like, “People who are afflicted with an addiction have little conscious control of their compulsion to use.” It’s like they accept that addiction is a normal thing for a certain type of person with certain types of weaknesses, but it’s not as real as I make it out to be.
And there it is: In accepting that addiction is something that happens to someone else who’s too weak for this life, we are part of the oppression because we do nothing. And in doing nothing, we are extending the suffering.
So, poetry is part of my life’s blood, but sometimes, song lyrics can do just as much to decipher our feelings about life. Pink Floyd had it right all along, I just never really too the time to think about what that song truly meant to me. I, for one, REFUSE to be a part of the turning away.