I'm Always Running Behind The Times: "Just Like This Train"

I really love October (who doesn't) but I find that it can sometimes really exacerbate what I'll call my Chronic Existential Pain Syndrome.

Like most chronic things, it's low level most of the time and then occasionally flares up, usually in the form of thoughts like so:

"Wow this is really a beautiful autumn evening, there's that comforting damp chill in the air and I can't wait to get home and make a cup of tea but OH WAIT this beauty is so fleeting and we will all die."


"Wow this is a really beautiful autumn afternoon, I just love the scent of woodsmoke and everyone hurrying by in attractive sweaters, the sky is the prettiest shade of blue, but none of this can last and we will all die."


"Wow this is a really beautiful autumn morning, the sunlight through those red leaves is quite spectacular but soon those leaves will turn brown and crumble up and we will all die."

You get the picture. October is a month of many pangs.

I was trying to figure out what songs I could use to describe the feeling of October, but there's nothing that quite captures it because nothing really can. So I hit on these two, which I find simply comforting and beautiful, and which remind me that for the moment, we are alive.

Because that's really what it is, this Chronic Existential Pain Syndrome. It's not so much a morbid obsession with death as it is the incredibly keen feeling that life is much too big and beautiful to ever be fully lived or even understood. But the existential pain is what compels us to try.

As I continue on with In Bed With Amy Wilson, I continue to search for the similarities in the songs and artists I love. I think one major one is that many of them are fellow CEPS patients. Even though their experiences (as reflected in their songs) often differ from mine, I sense the underlying theme and I understand the essence, even if not the particulars.

There's this movie called Joe Versus the Volcano that should be required viewing for anyone with a heart and the senses of humor, absurdity, and perspective. It's the first pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as well as the directorial debut of John Patrick Shanley (the excellent writer behind Moonstruck and Doubt), and it addresses this very issue much better than I ever could hope to. (As well as being extremely hilarious; the line "Very exciting. . .as a LUGGAGE PROBLEM," has been known to cause me to undergo actual paroxysms.)

In any case, the reason why I bring it up is because there's this line that I always come back to, where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are drifting under the stars on Meg Ryan's character's boat, and she says,

My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.

It seems true to me. And constant total amazement can really hurt, actually.

But doesn't it seem better than the alternative?

Enjoy these songs, please. Happy October.


The song: Joni Mitchell, "Just Like This Train"; 1974

The song: Neko Case, "Magpie to the Morning"; 2009

Come on sorrow, take your own advice: hide under the bed, turn out the light.