the meaning of life...

according to linkin park

Written by graham

i was eating lunch today and heard a song by linkin park.

anyone who's anyone knows that linkin park are the hottest rock band in the world.

or at least they were.

but on this side of the world, life moves a little slower.

so judging by how often i hear the same three songs over and over, they still are.

normally, this would be no big deal. i've heard the songs a million times. i know them by heart. i'm even guilty of singing along to them in the car.

really loudly.

but today was special.

today, i actually listened to the song.

at first, to be honest, i listened just because it was in english. in a place that doesn't speak my native tongue, my ears tend to perk up when i hear it.

what i heard instead was an unexpected hidden plea.

there was a subliminal message that once heard, started to scream out with a resounding clarity drowning out even the energetic frontman's bellowing hit-making vocal gymnastics with a very simple message.

here are the lyrics:

somewhere i belong
(C) linkin park

i had nothing to say
and i get lost in the nothingness inside of me
(i was confused)
and i live it all out to find, but im not the only person wit these things in mind
(inside of me)
but all that they can see the words revealed
is the only real thing that i got left to feel
(nothing to lose)
just stuck hollow and alone
and the fault is my own and the fault is my own


i wanna heal
i wanna feel
what i thought was never real
i wanna let go of the pain ive felt so long.
erase all the pain til its gone
i wanna heal
i wanna feel
like im close to something real.
i wanna find something ive wanted all along
somewhere i belong

what do i have but negativity
cuz i cant trust no one by the way everyone is looking at me
(nothing to lose)
nothing to gain
i'm hollow and alone
and the fault is my own
and the fault is my own


I will never know myself until i do this on my own
cuz i will never feel anything else until my wounds are healed
i will never be anything til i break away from me
i will break away.
i'll find myself today

i know, i know.



it's a very typical pop song.

full of passionate, cliched references so vague, anyone in the audience within the pop spectrum of existence can really relate to them in a personally meaningful way.

just like a horoscope.

standard operating procedure for hit-song making.

but what caught my attention was what was being referenced, not the overtly formulaic way it is done.

just like i learned in high school english class, i noticed a pattern of certain "themes" coming up again and again.

in fact, the whole song is little more than eight ideas, repeated in different ways.

those ideas are (according to my breakdown)...

  1. nothingness
  2. emptiness
  3. yearning for feeling
  4. belonging
  5. healing
  6. accountability
  7. self-actualization

i think i'm being generous.

nothingness and emptiness and even the negative polarity of belonging (as in, loneliness) are all essentially referencing the same thing.

nonetheless, let's take a look at how this breakdown applies to the lyrics.



yearning for feeling





well, well, well.

as base as the song might be, those are some rather serious allegations against the quality of life an audience that can relate to this song must be experiencing.

however crudely, just what is our budding philosopher here trying to say?

it sounds to me like he is tired of writing angst-ridden songs about feeling empty and hallow, longing for something "real" that sounds suspiciously like the feeling you get when you fit in somewhere and believe in something.

but those are just symptoms.

there's a big problem today with treating symptoms, instead of the root of a problem. especially in the west, like the california our linkin park friends live in.

it seems to me that our friend is lacking something to believe in.

that'd be a more honest title for the song.

the lack of a core belief system leaves a pretty big hole in one's life.

why do you think Jesus is so popular?

a guy like Jesus had some great ideas. so did others.

but a lot of the driving force behind adopting any religion is simply to have something to believe.

it is a necessary part of the human condition to believe our lives have a purpose.

no matter how silly, insignificant, obscure, or downright delusional... without a purpose, there is no reason to get up in the morning, much less do anything else.

much of the "depression" that is so rampant today is simply an acute sense of lacking purpose.

a good one, anyway.

( it is important to mention there are also plenty of legitimate medical causes for many types of depression. i'm not at all meaning to belittle this very real and often life-threatening condition. i'm saying, to everyone who gets the winter blues and starts popping pills for it: you'll do yourself far better thinking of a good reason to live than you will filing a perscription. )

the trouble is, our linkin park friend is part of a generation (along with me) that has grown up training itself to "believe in nothing."

we've seen the downfall of traditional values and the triumphant rise of fast-food replacements. we're bombarded by commercial messages so effectively constructed to exploit on our insecurities that we've been left with no defense but to develop a thick skin of apathy, safely protected behind a wall of skeptical cynicism.

in the immortal words of my favourite dead hero:

"oh well, whatever, nevermind." source

that's what that song was about.

instead of just whining about it, this song proposes a possible solution!

right there in the chorus!


i wanna heal
i wanna feel
what i thought was never real
i wanna let go of the pain ive felt so long.
erase all the pain til its gone
i wanna heal
i wanna feel
like im close to something real.
i wanna find something ive wanted all along
somewhere i belong


"i wanna heal", "i wanna feel".

crude, like i said.

but could it really be that simple?

maybe our boy here just needs to do some walking.

all these ideas i've been talking about seem to think it is.

others tend to agree.

it's coming up in the most base output of pop culture, which is usually strictly reserved for only the issues of utmost absolute bubblegum triviality.

what does it say when your culture's most popular form of escapism is about escaping itself?

as cynical as you might be about believing anything...

maybe it means you are finally motivated enough to try.