Lyrics: Neil Peart
Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown
Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth
Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night
Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory
Of lighted streets on quiet nights…
In 1982, the year this song by the popular band, Rush, spoke to me and my growing feeling of isolation. It spoke my fears that I would never make it to the “far unlit unknown” and that my future had already been “pre-decided”.
This is timeless in that it speaks to that conflict in all of us between fitting in and living our best potential which is repressed by the forces telling us to be this false ideal that does not truly exist. “Conform or be cast out” can be read “give up your identity or be always alone”. I chose to be alone. The cost of conformity – it’s too much to bare.
“Some will sell their dreams for small desires and lose the race to rats…”
Too many suffer that fate, living in their little boxes, repeating the same worn routine day in and day out in some cubicle so that they can keep their box all the while screaming on the inside.
There is something so broken in society, it seems incurable. The way we live is not healthy or conducive to creativity and the resulting productivity that might evolve us beyond our technology.
We have so many more of these “Signals” in society than we did in 1982. We are always plugged in to the beast that is social media which instead of making us each welcome to the world further isolates us not only from each other but from our own humanity.
“Growing up it all seems so one-sided. Opinions all provided…”
This has grown exponentially true. If you dare step out of line with the latest narrative, being cast out is the best one can hope for.