This is one lugubrious sucker.
We all get to go around just once.
What’s the big deal? I don’t
know. But I think it is.
As I wrote I thought it was in the genre of the
stages of life poem.
But the song didn’t turn out like that.
The first stanza is sort of about what life looks like when you start
out. Much potential seems to lie
ahead. Things look different in the
middle stage; mostly regrets at things not done and sadness at how quickly time
has passed. And the last stanza is about
how things look right at the end: pretty bleak.
The emotional key to the song for me is the line, “And
you ain’t got time to unpack your trunk.” The psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut
tries to differentiate the classical theory (Freud) of man [sic] as suffering
from guilt from what he calls “tragic” man [sic]. The former he says:
…cannot illuminate the sense of fractured, enfeebled,
discontinuous human existence; it cannot explain the essence of the
schizophrenic’s fragmentation, the struggle of the patient who suffers from a
narcissistic personality disorder to reassemble himself, the despair–the
guiltless despair, I stress–of those who in late middle age discover that the
basic patterns of their self as laid down in their nuclear ambitions and ideals
have not been realized.
That’s a long way of saying: and you ain’t got time to
unpack your trunk.