Interpretation of “So close” by Pavlos Pavlides
In this entry I provide philosophical commentary on the song So close by the extraordinary songmaker Pavlos Pavlides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxzAk1kxjFA. Further below are the original lyrics, my translation of them, and my commentary.
Note that I have written about Pavlos before. Each song is aesthetically pleasing as well as intellectually stimulating.
Τόσο κοντά Απ' τη σιωπή ως την κραυγή, ελάχιστη απόσταση Μία ρωγμή και ξαφνικά γίνεται ο θόλος θρύψαλα Πέφτει κομμάτια τώρα εμπρός σου ο παλιός ο ουρανός Λένε πως έχεις πυρετό, ψάχνουν να βρούνε το σφυγμό σου Είσαι ήδη μακριά... τόσο κοντά, τόσο κοντά Από τη γη στον ουρανό σε ένα δευτερόλεπτο Μες τον αιώνα μιας στιγμής μπορείς πια γύρω σου να δεις Όλα όσα μοιάζαν μακρινά, και δυνατά τ' αδύνατα Βράζει αφρισμένος τώρα εντός σου απέραντος ωκεανός Σε παρασέρνει μακριά... τόσο κοντά, τόσο κοντά Όσα ο χρόνος δεν μπορεί λένε τα φέρνει η στιγμή κι ότι ο κόσμος είναι αυτός που είναι Ζήτημα δικό σου αν θα βουτήξεις στα βαθιά αν θα κοιτάς από μακριά Έτσι κι αλλιώς ούτε κι εγώ ξέρω πως βρέθηκα εδώ Σ' αυτή την άβυσσο μπροστά... τόσο κοντά, τόσο κοντά Όσα ο χρόνος δεν μπορεί λένε τα φέρνει η στιγμή κι ότι ο κόσμος είναι αυτός που είναι Ζήτημα δικό σου αν θα βουτήξεις στα βαθιά αν θα κοιτάς από μακριά Έτσι κι αλλιώς ούτε κι εγώ ξέρω πως βρέθηκα εδώ Σε τόσα βλέμματα μπροστά... τόσο κοντά, τόσο κοντά
So close From the silence to the shout, minimal distance A fracture and suddenly the ceiling turns into smithereens The old sky now falls in pieces before you They say you have temperature, they try to find your pulse You're already away... so close, so close From the earth to the sky in a second In the aeon of an instance you can finally see around you All that seemed distant, and the impossible as possible A boundless ocean now boils frothing inside of you It washes you away... so close, so close All that time cannot do, they say is brought by an instant and that the world is what it is It is your matter if you dive in the depths and look from afar At any rate neither do I know how I got here In front of this abyss... so close, so close All that time cannot do, they say is brought by an instant and that the world is what it is It is your matter if you dive in the depths and look from afar At any rate neither do I know how I got here In front of all those stares... so close, so close
My reading of this poetry involves self-actualisation following a courageous quantum leap. It is about the transition that must take place from the silent to the vocal phase; from conforming with others’ standards to the assumption of control over one’s life.
One of the most difficult choices we face is to find a balance between what society expects from us and what we want for ourselves. We cannot do everything we desire, as there are rules in place which preserve the balance between people. Though we also do not wish to assume a role that contradicts our nature. We have to find something that works for us, does not put us in danger, and does not harm others.
To reach a point where we are close to something we want, we must do the hard work of upsetting our status quo. We are the first to internalise the established rules and to enforce them as our own. As such, we entertain all sorts of “I must not” or “I cannot” which we actually have not thought about critically. Sometimes, those are true for us, while at others they are inaccurate and thus too restrictive.
Finding a virtuous balance in the aforementioned choice requires that we escape from our comfort zone. Initially, this is the milieu that was formed without our participation or, at least, that we took for granted. From an early age, we develop a sense of selfhood that we then consider fixed even though it is variable.
For example, one was a shy kid and continues to believe they have to be equally shy for a lifetime. The child does not know that shyness results in the accumulation of regrets and that those turn into unbearable negativity. Whereas the more experienced mindful person can understand that it is okay to be assertive in some cases.
What happens after we venture outside the comfort zone? It is unclear, otherwise it too would be well-known and comfortable. We can still act cautiously, though what matters is do it with intent. To figure out more about who we are and what the world has in store for us. The key is to muster the mental strength to commit to a course of action that involves unknowns and comes with uncertain outcomes. It is not easy, but this is what self-actualisation involves.
Others will be quick to judge our decisions. Many favour the realm of the known over the unknown. As such, comments we receive will put us in doubt about the propriety of our means and the desirability of our wants. We cannot know for sure and must thus trust our intuition. If we strongly feel that our initial state is constraining us, then we must perform the leap of faith into the unknown and hope we discover something benign.
It is only then that we can see things differently. What once appeared impossible shall then be understood as feasible. Those who we thought of as distant strangers are now standing right beside us as friends or lovers.
The buildup towards a major change happens slowly, though the culmination of it tends to be abrupt. It is in those moments when courage matters the most. Not to have second thoughts, not to feel overwhelmed by the beauty we seek; the beauty of heeding our inner voice while not harming others.
[ Read: Courage and the natural flow (2023-10-24) ]
We always are “so close” to such an eventuality, though our inertia may keep us in a state of “so close; yet so far”. Proximity is not enough. It is our disposition that matters: the eagerness to proceed with honesty.