The Big Picture

I’ve posted a video below of Conor Oberst (of the band Bright Eyes) performing his song The Big Picture.

Admittedly, my longtime connection to this song may have something to do with my slightly altered state of mind at the time I first heard it. As such, I can’t expect everyone to have the same reaction that I did. I can, however, provide you with an opportunity to decide for yourself whether it’s worth your time.

I’ve provided the lyrics below. They have always seemed somewhat Taoist to me, but they cover a wide range of other topics as well. Rather than try to put words in the mouth of the artist by interpreting them, I’ll merely show you where they take my mind by posting links in the text. Click away.

The picture’s far too big to look at, kid, your eyes won’t open wide enough.
And you’re constantly surrounded by the swirling stream of what is and what was.
Well we all made our predictions, but the truth still isn’t out.
But if you wanna see the future go stare into a cloud.

And keep trying to find your way out through that maze of memories,
It all sorta looks familiar ’till you get up close and then it’s different, clearly,
but each time you turn a corner you’re right back where you were.
And your only hope is that forgetting might make a door appear.

Is it your fear of being buried that makes you so afraid to speak?
An avalanche of opinions, like the one that fell that I’m now underneath?
It was my voice that moved the first rock and I would do it all again.
So I mean it’s cool if you keep quiet, but I like singin’.

So I’ll be holding my note, and stomping, and strumming and feeling so very lucky.
And there is nothing I know except this lifetime’s one moment and wishing will just leave you empty.

So you can try and live in darkness, but you will never shake the light.
No, it will greet you every morning, and it will make you more aware with its absence at night.
When you’re wrapped up in your blankets, baby, that comfortable cocoon.
But I’ve seen the day of your awakening, boy, and it’s coming soon.

So go ahead and lose yourself in liquor, and you can praise the clouded mind,
but it isn’t what you’re thinking. It’s the course of history, your position in line.
You’re just a piece of the puzzle so you better find your place.
And don’t go blaming your knowledge on some fruit you ate.

Because there’s been a great deal of discussion, yes, about the properties of man:
Animal or angel? You were carved from bone, but your heart, it’s just sand.
And the wind is gonna scatter it and cover everything with love.
So if it makes you happy then keep kneelin’, but I’m standing up.

Because this veil it has been lifted, yes. My eyes are wet with clarity.
I’ve been a witness to such wonders. I’ve searched for them all across this country,
but I think I’ll be returning now to the town where I was born.
And I understand you must keep moving, friend, but I’m headed home.

I’m gonna follow the road and let the scenery sweeping by easily enter my body.
And I’ll send you all this message in code: under ground, over mountains, through forests and deserts and cities.
Across electric wire, it’s a baited line. The hook’s in deep, boy, there’s no more time.
So you can struggle in the water and be too stubborn to die,
or you can just let go and be lifted to the sky.

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