(I did not write this but I was asked to post this for a friend anonymously. It tells the story how one person found their way out of religion. Personally, I found it a powerful read.)
You most likely have had the experience of a song hitching a ride down your own venue of memory lane. Some experience it through very emotional moments in their lives: first kiss, first car, new job, proposal and the like. Others have to piece together the journey a song has taken with them. Sometimes it starts with a silent moment of “where did I hear that before?” and memories start flitting by. You could almost say that’s what happened to me with one song in particular. But not really.
For this entry, the song that followed isn’t one about a great emotional loss, new love of another or betrayal of some sort. It’s a song about science. It all started in tenth grade in my science class when a teacher, one of those teachers who was all about making learning fun brought his A-track and played us a song. It’s called Little Neutrino by the band Klaatu.
From there the teacher went on an hour talk about neutrinos and how cool they are. He talked about how there is over 65 billion neutrinos are currently going through your fingernail each second. He mentioned the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) – how it was two kilometres deep in the earth’s crust with the purpose of detecting solar neutrinos.
At the time it was the song that captured my interest, and from there I listened intently to the commentary of the teacher. To this day the information is still locked in my brain.
The melody of the song was haunting in a sense. It was four distinct notes that stayed stuck in my mind. When I got back home that day I found out what notes they were and seared it into my mind. It was a song I wanted to go back to for later. Our house didn’t have Napster on it, and by the time I got home I had forgotten the name of the song, just that it had to do with neutrinos. Hotbot, an internet search engine of the past, wasn’t yielding any results and the song like so many others got lost due to life happening.
I was a science fan, but just from the television with the Discovery Channel and a few French documentaries. I was heavily indoctrinated at the time, and science just didn’t seem to be the venue I should go in. It wasn’t (gasp) important enough as I was working too hard to be selected by the god I was raised to believe in to enter Paradise. I sort of cringe remembering I tried to place a magazine with that same science teacher. I got told no, and I get it now; the amount of pseudoscience and outright misrepresentation of science by the writers of that magazine is shocking. That was all done to further the goal of having at least one more follower. But I digress.
It wasn’t until years later that I was reintroduced to the song. Until then, lots had happened. I was kicked out of my house for not being an obedient god fearing youth, later on got kicked out of the faith and shunned, and found myself trying to survive and the little amount of friends I had. At the time I really didn’t know how to connect with people. I was a drifter.
Those few whom I talked to were other drifters. One of them was a guy you’d probably consider a hippy who never grew up. He and I talked all sorts of nonsense, trying to understand the world around us to no avail. What we did have in common was the like of music from the 60’s and 70’s. One day, after having had coffee, I mentioned to him about a song that was really “Hippy shit” music – not the mainstream music you’ll hear on classic rock stations.
“It’s a song about neutrinos. I don’t remember the name of the song or who made it, but that’s the deepest I can go in my memory for real hippy shit. Do you know of it?” He chuckled to himself. “You’re talking about Klaatu. I know all about that band. I used to sell them their ‘inspiration’.” I didn’t ask, but got the gist.
He passed me the CD he had of it and when I got home I played it on my computer straight away. Those same four haunting notes filled my ears once again. Oh my goodness, that’s it!!
I put the song onto my mp3 player and returned to listen to it whenever I felt nostalgic. Not much of my youth do I allow myself to go back on as it was a trying time for me, but a song, I felt comfortable with.
A few years later, I come around to the whole thing of religion and realize it’s not for me – never had been. I was taught the world was 6000 years old and that I was to devote my life to preaching the word of god to the masses – something that at the time made me feel like Superman. Now being stuck forever as a Clark Kent, I decided that my dingy life couldn’t stay on the same course or I would be so depressed that I would stagnate and rot.
In questioning, I joined a local skeptics group. It was nice, made some friends and got a little social circle I had never achieved yet in life. The people of the group came from all walks of life. The perfect place to become uncomfortable as hell when it came to my ego… By that time, I was unemployed, had my High School diploma, but nothing substantial. Fertile grounds for my sense of self-worth to feel challenged… Sort of a “Well, it’s about time I show the world what I can do.”
The High School diploma I had would have only gotten me so far – probably a bit of college – nothing substantial. I had to up my grades from High School. I took math as my first course. It was like my brain hit a brick wall. “What? What is this thing you call logic?” I poured my guts out at my fears of dropping out of school to the skeptic group I was a part of. Damn it, I wanted to do something with me life! One of the members asked me if I needed a tutor in math, and that he was willing to help. A wholehearted “YES!” from me and we met up at a local pub the next week or so later.
I didn’t know that much (still don’t) in the ways of science, but after going over the math and then having a pint, I decided to talk causally about things I knew of the world of science. I told him the story about how my science teacher in tenth grade played a song for us called Little Neutrino by the band Klaatu and how there was this really cool thing over in Sudbury that detected them. I got the same chuckle my self-proclaimed hippy friend gave me years ago, that knowing chuckle. I didn’t know it, but I was being tutored by one of the physicists who helped build one of the parts of the SNO. I was floored. It was strange to see these past events associated to yet another new positive experience.
That piece of memory lane is definitely something I like going back to, now. The first time I heard the song, science meant so little. The reality that was right in front of me was veiled by dogma. Years later I was trying to find meaning and it came up again and held relevance. Not too long ago, it held an more significant meaning as I start to carve my niche for myself and my personal goals set for life. So much that even now, when I was listening to that very same song one day on the bus, the idea to write it down and share it here came to mind.
The theme of this blog is memory lane. Sometimes it’s nice, sometimes it’s a difficult place to wander. But like a car ride, if you have just the right type of music playing, it can make the journey so much better.