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To me, Journey is not only a poignant representation of the circle of life. It's a beautiful game that evoked some anxiety-laden memories. The more obvious themes of the title inevitably forced me to reflect on those that I love, that I've lost, and those that I've yet to meet, but it was the music from the initial stages that brought up some very specific memories.
What's sticking with me after two playthroughs is the memory of the hours before the final exam that I sat for my university study. I arrived on campus a few hours before this test in order to cram (or, in my case, say I was cramming but procrastinate even more). I'd never been so terrified…not only because of the immediate threat of the exam but because of the great wealth of expectation and possibilities that lay before me. The future was causing me to worry…I couldn't breathe. How many job interviews would it take for me to land a real job? Would I move down to the Gold Coast to be with my girlfriend? Would I finally like who I saw looking back at me in the mirror?
Yeah, there was a lot on my mind; and yeah, that resulted in a truly horrific panic attack.
Normally, I'd cope with this affliction by consuming alcohol, but over the course of the year I came to shrug the habit (not completely, mind you, but I had managed to tone down my consumption considerably over the course of the year). I wanted to tough this one out. About an hour had passed, I wasn't feeling any better, and I was on the verge of tears. Movement was the solution…movement and music.
I listen to a reasonably diverse array of artists from a smaller pool of genres, and Deerhunter technically rests on the shores of said pool. I generally prefer heavier sounds which, for the most part, lack their subtlety. They can do hard, but it was this song that I had on repeat:
Crank it up. Listen with headphones if you can. The beautiful drone of White Ink was pushing into my sternum as I began to cry on my walk through the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens. The pain and anxiety intensified. It appeared at first that going for a walk wasn't the cure to my unrelenting sense of self-doubt.
As the song repeated and I journeyed further into the expanse (pardon the hyperbole), the weight lifted, my breathing became more regular, and the tears stopped flowing. This was the beginning of my voyage through life, not the end. Realizing that a world of possibilities lay ahead of me instead of some make-or-break trial had brought me back from the brink; I was ready for this exam.
The opening of Journey is accompanied by a constant, ominous hum. The playful string arrangement keeps it from plunging into White Ink's chaotic buzz, but I could hear a parallel. I felt that same crushing sense of uncertainty and doubt, but experience told me that feeling could be alleviated by a long stroll.
So I started walking.