Contribute…and then some more
One of the saddest songs I have ever heard is “Creep”, written and performed by Thom Yorke of the English alternative rock band, Radiohead. The song was released as their debut single in 1992, but the single was initially banned as it was deemed to be “too depressing”. “Creep” was not a hit at first, but it achieved chart success when it appeared on their first album, “Pablo Honey”, in 1993. According to Thom Yorke, “Creep” tells the tale of an inebriated man who tries to get the attention of a woman to whom he is attracted by following her around. In the end, he lacks the self-confidence to face her and feels he subconsciously is her.
The song’s lyrics speak to a deep void and confusion in the man’s life, as he exhibits insecurity, doubt and a lack of confidence by his unusual behaviour. He turns to imbibing excessive alcohol to relieve his pain, only to find that his drunkenness leads to desperation and despair. The song ends in misery, almost with a suicidal inference — “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here, I don’t belong here”. When asked about “Creep” in 1993, Yorke said: “I have a real problem being a man in the ‘90’s… Any man with any sensitivity or conscience toward the opposite sex would have a problem. To actually assert yourself in a masculine way without looking like you’re in a hard-rock band is a very difficult thing to do… It comes back to the music we write, which is not effeminate, but it’s also not brutal in its arrogance. It is one of the things I’m always trying — to assert a sexual persona and, on the other hand, trying desperately to negate it”.
Achieving a sense of wholeness and purpose in life is a journey and a difficult one at that. Quality decisions (that relate to oneself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) need to be made and acted on to make progress a reality. Kenneth Hildebrand notes: “Multitudes of people, drifting aimlessly to and fro without a set purpose, deny themselves such fulfilment of their capacities and the satisfying happiness which attends it. They are not wicked; they are only shallow”. Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes; lesser ones exist on wishes and inclinations.
Answering the “Why do I exist?” question well is about understanding your real value (in relation to God and to others) and why your presence is needed. Getting to grips with the possibilities of your unique contribution propels you to look for opportunities for expression. It moves you beyond an inward obsession to an outward orientation — crying with the world in its pain (empathy) and doing something practical to rectify it. Your dynamic purpose calls on you, no demands, a sensitivity to God and His “big picture” and a willingness to contribute your best as a result.
Although having elements of sadness in the lyrics of your life, your song can also speak of joy, purpose and fulfilment as you realise success with opportunities that present themselves. The world certainly is poorer in spirit without your contribution.
A “tongue in cheek” postscript: When asked about Radiohead, Matt Miller, Culture Editor at Esquire, noted the following: “Radiohead is at their best when they’re sad — which is always!”
Originally published at https://www.stretchforgrowth.com on June 6, 2021.