It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I’m Just Sitting Here Watching the Wheels)

I’ve been going back and forth in my head the last few days between two songs.  Okay, fine, more than two songs, but specifically two songs predominantly which I don’t *usually* think of.

The first one makes more sense, and so that’s the one that popped into my head first the other day.  REM’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”.  I dunno, if you are capable of communication you should probably have some idea of why that would be.

The second one, however, is a little stranger.

There’s this J0hn Lennon song called “Watching the Wheels” that has this amorphous definition in my head.  Every couple years, my feelings on the song change entirely.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it.  Sometimes it symbolizes my helplessness at the things going on around me, sometimes it represents a sort of nostalgia, sometimes it reminds me viciously of the qualities about myself that I like least, and now… well, now it sort of reflects a strange optimism.

I’m not sure how it happened, either.  By all accounts, I should be horrified by world events and their long-term effects.  The REM song makes a lot more sense.  On the global scale, we have the makings of several wars, a horrible natural disaster in a country economically linked to about every major industry out there, and a world that seems to be shifting into crazy more and more every day.  On the local scale in Israel, we have a situation so depressing, I can’t find a way to describe it in one sentence that doesn’t trivialize a good three-quarters of the elements involved.

But yet I’m optimistic.  At the risk of giving a heart attack to anyone who dislikes cliches and platitudes, there is no birth without pain and the light is always darkest before the dawn.

But I don’t know why I feel that way.  I don’t have a reason for it.  Maybe it’s because, for once, the problems seem somehow solvable.  Not that they will definitely be solved, but I perceive that some solution exists.  And it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that.  That might say more about me than about the problems themselves.

I think my feelings have gotten to the point where I’ve kind of accepted that I can’t do anything.  Not now, in any case.  Or maybe more accurately, I’ve kind of accepted that I *am* doing something, simply by going about my day-to-day life, and that my country and my world are better served by my not being distracted by things that I can’t really do anything about without letting go of current responsibilities.

And so I sit back and watch the wheels.  That’s what the song is about: detachment.  Yes, things are happening, and yes, they’re important, but they’re not *my* issues anymore, because I’ve got more immediate stuff to focus on.  So I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.  Someone else is taking care of the big stuff, and I’ll have to trust that whatever happens happens for now.  But it’s a temporary song, which is why the definition keeps changing in my head.  Later on I’ll jump into the mass of gears again, but for now I’m no longer riding on the merry-go-round.  I just had to let it go.

I guess the two songs aren’t too unrelated.  “End of the World” sort of leads into “Watching the Wheels.”  It starts with a list of apocalyptic images, but in the end he feels fine, and just wants some time alone.  Maybe to sit back and watch the wheels for a while.

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