Listening: I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times

 Brian Wilson © Dwong19 |

“I keep looking for a place to fit where I can speak my mind…”

The mark of a great artist is that she puts words or images to a thought or feeling that is inside many people but hasn’t been expressed in a way that most of us will understand. 

Brian Wilson is a great artist.

In the song “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” back in 1966, Wilson puts words and music to the awkward feeling that each and every one of us feels when we recognize there is no one else in the world quite like “me.”

“I’ve been trying hard to find the people That I won’t leave behind …”

The search for friendship, the search for meaning, the search for “fitting in.” Ultimately we won’t find complete fulfillment from other people. John Maxwell writes about being in the audience when someone asked his wife if “John makes you happy” and getting surprised when she responded, “No.”

Then she explained that true happiness is something you find inside yourself and not the responsibility of other people — and he realized she was right.

“They say I got brains, but they ain’t doing me no good; I wish they would …”

As a result of that realization, Wilson sings, “Sometimes I feel very sad,” and he gets frustrated when his hopes and expectations don’t quite come true …

“Each time things start to happen again, I think I got something good goin’ for myself, but what goes wrong …”

The sadness makes Wilson wonder if “I guess I just wasn’t made for these times,” but in giving voice to the sadness, he touches something in every heart, the sense of uniqueness that is both the joy and curse of our existence. He sings about the loneliness of being someone who is unlike any other living soul on Earth, just like everyone else.

“Every time I get the inspiration to go change things around, no one wants to help me look for places where new things might be found – Where can I turn when my fair weather friends cop out? What’s it all about?”

But there is also the joy in realization – If Brian Wilson can give voice to my loneliness, I’m not alone.

And if each of us is a unique being, how precious that is: How important it is that we treat each other with the respect and care that something precious and unique deserves.

None of us will ever quite fit in precisely, because we were designed to be different. That can make us sad and lonely, but it can also give us strength and inspiration, voiced in such motivational clichés as “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.”

Looking for a place to fit where you can speak your mind? So is everyone else — so gain power from that fact and speak your mind whether you fit or not.

Do the thing you fear, and you will find, like Brian Wilson did, that you have something to say that people need to hear.

From July 19, 2011, with slight revisions

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