Summer of ‘77. July to be precise. It was real hot — a big deal for northerners. Floyd was culminating the Animals tour in Montreal. This was to be the show-of-shows. Indoors. 360 degree surround-sound. Animals falling from the sky. 97,000 of us would be inside, together. I got my first insight about “the Stone” listening to “Dogs.” Oh, how we hated who they were describing ...
... and after a while, you can work on points for style.
Like the club tie, the firm handshake, a certain look in the eye and a easy smile.
You have to be trusted, by the people that you lie to,
So that when they turn their backs on you,
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in ...
An astute Floyd insight ... but then they give us a glimpse into where these “dogs” go off to spend their last days ...
And in the end you’ll pack up and fly down south,
Hide your head in the Sand,
Just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer.
But even Pink Floyd understood there had to be consequences ...
... you’ll reap the harvest you have sown.
And as the fear grows, the bad blood turns to stone …
... so have a good drown, as you go down, all alone, dragged down by the Stone ...
A fitting end for those who used others for their unjust gain. No band compared to Floyd with their razor-sharp insights, cryptic messages and their ability to use their synthesizers and strings to catapult our souls out of the mundane. Of course, live shows were rare so the norm was to settle for second best.
Mom and Dad went out for the night. This was a no-brainer. I parked my bean bag right between my speakers while Floyd poured out of my Harman Kardon. A doobie assisted my journey with Floyd. Hadn’t planned on mom getting a stomach bug. Cranked as high as my stereo would go, the voice of someone trying to call out to me was faint. I glanced over my shoulder ... MOM! The blue dope smoke still in the air. The look on her face wasn’t just anger — there was pain. I was caught too red-handed to just wiggle my way out of this one. From so high to so low in an instant. The stone took me down, down, down ...
My other friends could just shrug-off their moms. Not me. Couldn’t do it ... The only way to get out of trouble with Mom was to add more weight to the Stone ... “Mom, I’m really trying to quit. In fact I haven’t really been doin’ it much since the last time I did it. Please Mom, believe me that I wanna’ quit ...”
What a pack of lies. I had no intent on quitting. Deep-down there was a desire, but my will was a slave. The Stone was getting heavy but when you’re used to riding that high, its not easy to get off the ride.
They said, “College is the only way ...” I weaseled my way in by drawing pretty pictures. They turned a blind eye to my grades. This was 1979. One year of college and I was needing a U-Haul to pull my stone wherever I’d go. Made a few close friends. Just a few. One was Ingrid — she was from Holland. Sensitive, oh, so sensitive, she was. She would read to us from Kahlil Gibran. I identified with her because she had flaws — insecure, lanky, plain-looking. That was just the outside ... Inside she was a rare gem.
After just one year my Stone was so heavy. And they said you had to do four years to get the Diploma to serve the Machine. I knew simple math. If it was this heavy after one year then four would put me under. I had to admit I was a little confused. It seemed to me as if I was just being used. If I don’t stand my ground, how can I make my way out of this maze?
I actually stood my ground. Not the norm for an addict. I joined the ranks of “drop-outs” and headed off to Africa, as far away from the Machine as possible. Animals, the indigenous, no time clocks. But it was only fantasy. The wall was too high as I was starting to see, leading Americas elite children on expeditions. No matter how hard I tried I could not break free. Sure I shed some things: dope, booze, the ambition to be a big shot, but alone hundreds of miles away from any civilization, in far away Africa I saw the walls within myself. I could no longer just blame the Machine or the Dogs.
Dejected and depressed I left the dark, pristine continent. Ingrid, who was now back in Holland, said I could stay with her family for a week on my way home. So I spent a week with my friend and her family. She was troubled. I could tell. We had hearts for something different but didn’t know where to find it.
I will never forget the day I left Ingrid. It’s like a re-run that appears every so often. She brought me to the train station on my way to Paris. I had my backpack on, ready to board the train when Ingrid approached. She couldn’t hide her tears. Words were hardly needed. My soul understood hers. “Why are you leaving? Please don’t leave. I will be OK if you don’t leave.” I had to go. “Ingrid, I’m not the one. We’re friends but that’s all. You’ll be OK.”
Ingrid wasn’t a pretender. She didn’t know how to. She couldn’t hide her hopelessness. I never saw her again or heard from her. Only got a letter three months later from her family. It was written in Dutch. I couldn’t understand a word but knew something was wrong. Mom’s friend translated it for me. Ingrid took her own life. No details. Just the fact.
Goodbye Cruel World ... I’m leaving you today,
there’s nothing more you can say.
She gave in without a fight. She probably tried the churches but Ingrid was too sensitive to fall for their softly spoken magic spells. It happened in Leiden, where 400 years earlier the Pilgrims already saw the church was dead and were driven out.
My stone was getting so heavy. Why did I leave her at the train station? Was I just too selfish? But how could I carry her stone when mine was already unbearable?
What has become of you?
Does anybody else here
Feel the way I do?
My Vera was Ingrid. Why couldn’t I help her? Not just keep her from dying, but have somewhere to point her to? Something and somewhere you don’t have to swallow hard to accept ... I know all Ingrid wanted was love ... That’s all she was looking for.
Time won’t permit me to tell of my fight to find someone who would help me carry the stone. Somehow I couldn’t give in ... Being comfortably numb sounded like dying to my dreams and I couldn’t accept that. You shouldn’t either.
Euphoria is possible. But its not a song or a drug or a meal or a boyfriend. Its the reward from a life of hard work, striving for true love. Sacrificial love. Love that isn’t selfish. Selfishness is death. Love produces community. Selfishness destroys it.
God is Love. Love isn’t Selfish. Gods enemy is selfishness.
I am thankful for guilt. It’s been my friend — keeping me from becoming comfortably numb; self satisfied while out of sync with my Creator and His purpose.
Please, I beg of you, don’t underestimate the Power of the Stone.
Please, Come Home.
Don’t take on Death alone.
We’ll help you carry your Stone.
I live in a special place — we call these specials places “clans and tribes”, where these words are a reality ...
You know that I care what happens to You. And I know that you care for me. So I don’t feel alone or the weight of the Stone.
My name is Shoresh. Please come see us. Please.