Music Through the Eyes of a Commuting Daydreamer, by Heather Rolfert
Commuting. Two years ago, it became an essential routine of my life. Driving from home
to Miami, from Miami to home, became normal. 30 minutes there. 30 minutes back. Four days a week. Every minute spent driving. Music pouring out of the radio. Every inch covered.
I depend on music. It comforts me. It keeps me out of my head. It keeps me from going crazy when I’m alone. Driving without music is never in question.
After a long drive, the next part of my trek to class looms in front of me: a walk uphill, then through the paths winding the streets and halls of the area. (Somedays, this part lasts about 15 minutes, while other days, it drags on for 20–25 minutes.)
For music and I, our bond is substantial. As soon as my car is turned off, I can be found with headphones on, and my mind miles away from reality. The music wraps around me. It pushes me forward one step at a time.
It’s a necessity that makes me question myself: Could I make it through a day without music?
That need pushes me to listen to a rabbit hole of songs all in one day. Some songs get skipped without hesitation. Some blur together. Some can’t be skipped. One song that stands out as a diamond among rocks is Imagine Dragons’ Wrecked. When listening to this song, I hear its beats, rhythms, and emotions as they repeat over and over again.
It’s hard to keep from looping the song.
The lyrics first drifted in through my car’s radio one afternoon while driving home. I remember thinking “Oh. This is an Imagine Dragons song. I bet it’s inspirational.”
Seconds later, my words were proved wrong:
“Days pass by and my eyes stay dry, and I think that I'm okay
'Til I find myself in conversation, fading away
The way you smile, the way you walk
The time you took to teach me all that you had taught
Tell me, how am I supposed to move on?”
From the start, I could hear the sorrow in the singer’s voice. It was a struggle, even while driving, to block out the onslaught of images.
An image of a lost singer, continuously convincing themselves that nothing is wrong. Again and again, they are down on their knees whispering “I’m not torn apart. No. I can pick up the pieces. I can move on from your death, my Love.” But, realization rips their words to shreds. All the memories (like going to a fair and buying cotton candy to share or simply walking hand in hand through the woods) cut into their mind like tiny shards of glass. What was once good has become a living nightmare.
That image is still stuck in my mind. One can’t forget the distinct image of grief. A couple days later, with the song a constant on my walks, these lyrics caught my attention:
“You’d say, ‘Oh, suck it all up, don’t get stuck in the mud
Thinkin’ of things that you should have done’
I’ll see you again, my loved one.”
These lyrics create a new path, a new perspective, for me to engage with.
As I once saw a singer being ripped apart by grief, I now see them sitting while they stare into the distance, into nothingness. Lingering off to the side is a transparent, milky-white human figure. Its frail hand stretches out in the direction of the singer’s shoulder, but never reaches, never connects.
The figure’s mouth moves, words flowing and drifting to the ground as if they were stray leaves. “It’s okay. I’m right here. You can do it without me. There was always going to be a time when we would be torn apart. But, that means there is always going to be a time when we are put back together.”
The words wrap around the singer, but there is no sign of movement. No sign of acknowledgement. The figure lowers its hand as a shiny droplet trails down their face and is consumed in the ground below. The truth is clear now. The singer can’t hear them. They never will. Nothing will ever be heard. The two, singer and figure, are trapped in fractured realities.
“He’ll never understand. He’ll never know. I’ll never be able to tell him that I, his Love, am patiently waiting for him. How will he be okay without those words?”
Those heartbreaking images have never left my mind. No matter how many times the song accompanies me on my walks, sadness always follows. However, sadness isn’t always bad. Sometimes people need to let their emotions out, as tears tumble down their cheeks for no clear reason.
Maybe the song’s grief opens up old wounds from the loss of a family member. Maybe the tears are for all the stresses they have endured. Or maybe each tear resembles a fear they have for their future.
Whichever reason it may be, Imagine Dragons’ “Wrecked” is an emotionally powerful song. Whether you decide to listen to it while driving or walking, be prepared for the moment when your emotions catch you off guard.