Thursday, 5 November 2009

Rocket Man

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did

And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man
And I think it's gonna be a long long time...

I am full of contradictions. I am so intensely private to so many, but talkative once trust is earned. Sometimes I feel like saying the same thing a thousand times just because it is the most important thing in the world. They say a picture paints a thousand words, well to me, my feelings feel a million words. But how can you say the same thing so many times over before it becomes redundant and loses all its meaning? It is a question I’ve been struggling with lately.

And so this leads me to Rocket Man. Released eleven years before my birth, in 1972 by Elton John, it is quite simply one of the best songs ever recorded. I have so many different memories attached to this song, and it has spoke to me at so many different points in my life, for so many different reasons.

The first is on the bus on the way to special school. I couldn’t say much at the tender age of 5 for I had just learnt my first word a year earlier, but all I knew was that I loved the song. As the bus travelled through the South Western suburbs of Adelaide on the way to the torture chamber known as the Regency Park Centre, I would pretend that my wheelchair was a Rocket, ostensibly to fly away, away from the mess that was my life at that point. A life of soreness, crying and stretching. The staff eventually got wind of this too because they figured out the only way to attach me to my ‘standing frame’ (where they’d literally strap my legs in standing up so I couldn’t move) without me crying was to sing Rocket Man

Almost a decade later was the Year 7 Mitcham Primary School Science Fair. The school had Rocket Man playing over the oval PA all day, and that was the first time I realised how much I was attracted to girls. Some Year 12 girls from Mitcham Girls High had come over to help organise the fair. They were about ten of them, nine of which were assigned to co-ordinate the activities, the odd one out was assigned to be 'my helper'. Her name was Danielle, she had shoulder length brown hair and she followed me around all day and she smiled, boy did she smile. And she made sure that I was always first in line for all the activities, and she bought me a Coke. At the end of the day, she gave me a hug and said ‘Thanks for a great day!’ and as she left Elton sang ‘And I think its gonna be a long, long time’. I never saw her again.

Then yesterday Rocket Man came up again. Free of those previous memories, it spoke to me on a whole new level. It spoke to my frustration, the loneliness, but also the contradiction between freedom and constraint, being able to achieve anything, but all at once feeling tied down. Space is infinite, but it is also tiresome and restrictive.

It speaks to me on a whole new level because now I have taken off, reaching for the stratosphere, wishing for the things that I have left behind, people who aren’t quite ready to take the journey with me. Do I wait for them? Or do I take the journey?

It also speaks principally to my addictive personality. I always promise myself I will take things slow, but I never do. Even as I write this I am contemplating breaking a promise I have made to myself today because I can’t quite curb what I am frightened will eventually become an unhealthy addiction.

All of this being heavily ironic of course, because during the recording of unquestionably his greatest song ever Elton John was under the vice of so many addictions. Perhaps that’s why he and Bernie Taupin wrote it, they wanted to board his rocket to travel far away from their vices. See everything links back to Rocket Man. Only this time I wish to board my Rocket to bring me closer to the world, not further away. But as the song goes ‘I think it's gonna be a long long time...’

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