I've always found it fascinating the way a song can impact your train of thought at any given moment - even for just a short period of time.
It may be the lyrics and how they represented you at a certain point in your life. Or, it may be the band and how they were a part of your life during a particular stretch. Often times, however (for me, at least), it's the connection the song itself has to times in my life.
The reason this fascinates me is that no matter when I hear one song in particular - "I wish you were here" by Incubus - I recall only one event that I can associate it with.
I was a freshman in high school walking through the hall near one of the entrances to the school - just near the administrative offices. A fellow classmate's locker, adorned with other notes, had the lyrics to the aforementioned song taped to its door. At the time, the lyrics represented more truth than anything else that could have been spoken in that school for me and my fellow classmates.
Despite coming into our own (characteristically speaking) at that time, death - for many, if not most of us - was something that we had really never had a lot of experience dealing with (I am assuming, anyway). So, when our classmate lost his life in the tragic car accident that also claimed others, mourning was something that manifested itself through tears and other outward displays, but also - at least for me - in an internal rift that left me wondering how I should feel.
That isn't to say I had no remorse. It is to say, however, that I was confronted with a feeling of sadness that I had never quite felt before. When you're 15 years old and you think about death, it's not usually something that is particularly familiar. You don't think about it because you're(usually) too busy worrying about what the girls at school think of you, or what video game you're going to get or what you and your friends are going to do over the weekend. You especially don't think about it affecting your friends; after all - you're all too young to die, which means when you come to school each day, the only reason you shouldn't see a friend is because he or she is out sick.
But this was different. This was having your expectations for how things should be and usually would be, shattered in front of you and instead replaced with a sense of mortality that, quite frankly, is usually an afterthought to what's on the lunch menu that day. Yet there we were. Confronted by something that we all just wished would go away. Something we wished was just a dark cloud of a dream that would eventually disappear and reveal the sunny days we all assumed we would have - for better or for worse.
To say "I wish you were here," is so incredibly true when thinking about that moment. Because if it were possible for him to be there, we wouldn't have to face the truth of our own mortality - and perhaps just as appropriately, our own frailty.
If I wanted to, I could simply delete that song from my music collection and distance myself from the feelings it makes me recall. But I think that would be a disservice to the memory of someone I grew up with; someone whose loss represented more than just the loss of a friend in the lives of so many people.
Instead, I will allow the song to serve as an unquestionable reminder of how we should not only cherish the time we have with the people we care for most, but also the time that we ourselves have on this Earth to experience the things that make an impact on us so we can make an impact on others.