Jan 12, 2013

I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn

Ruo Wei introduced this song to me when I asked him if he knew any good songs about perseverance - I was writing farewell cards to Rachel and Geri when we were about to finish our internship at Crescent last March. I fell in love with that particular line the moment I heard it, and now it's my Twitter profile description, my Whatsapp status, my blog title. I wondered why some people didn't get it and thought I was just trying to act cool with some chim phrase like that, and then I remembered that not everyone had the privilege of being a Literature student. So here goes (I'm not going to do the whole song, just that one line)...

I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn

This song uses swimming as an extended metaphor (or conceit) for the process of struggling through obstacles in life. Why swimming? Well, it's a lot harder than walking, because of the density of water. You need to get from one place to another but it seems like the water is always holding you back. The water just makes you wish you could simply lie still and let the waves take you, akin to the pressures of life that make you wish you could just escape, but then you'd end up somewhere you don't want to be. It's tough, but you have to endure and get through it.

Dawn is the first appearance of light before sunrise. Daybreak. The end of night. Daybreak is the first sign of hope after a period of darkness.

A tidal wave creates an image of a surge of water - now, seawater's not a very pleasant thing in this song; here you are trying to swim out of your obstacles with all the pressure coming at you hard, and now a huge wave of water wants to take you down. You could, very possibly, drown.

A tidal wave - a huge surge of obstacles - they come at you during a period of darkness, and the wave threatens to wipe out any hope of light to end it all. Like the light at the end of a tunnel - you're surrounded by darkness, waiting for that hint of light, when something comes and blocks out the hole at the other end, so the light will never come.

"Begging" personifies the wave. It suggests that the wave isn't a random force of nature coming along - it's there with a purpose. It has a strong will to take you down, the will of a desperate person. "Tear" is also a part of the personification - it doesn't want simply to block out the light of dawn in darkness; it wants to rip apart the very first bit of hope.

"I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn" - I've been swimming in a sea of darkness, unable to find my way with all the pressure of the water getting to me. My muscles are aching; I've been swimming all night, and I'm just looking for the hint of day. This sea of obstacles is dragging me down. I need to plough through the mess. I can't find my way. I need some light. Then this massive wave comes along, the very last straw, that threatens to take out all my hope.

I found a tidal wave begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets, they fire at me like a gun
I swim for brighter days despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water; I'm not giving in
I swim

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