If and when I retire, there’s only one place I want to retire to; Newquay, a small town and fishing port on the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall.
It was here where I spent many a happy childhood holiday with my family, here where my heart often turns to when I think about my most favourite places in the world, and here where I once experienced a perfect moment of serenity, all soundtracked to this song.
I don’t remember the exact year, but I believe it was either 2001 or 2002. Either way, I had gone down to Newquay to spend a week with a few friends from college and took Incubus’ Morning View album with me.
You’re Always First When No One’s On Your Side
I’d been a big fan of Incubus for about a year around the time of this holiday, first falling for their track ‘Pardon me’ on a compilation album put together by Kerrang! magazine before picking up Morning view not long after it came out.
Though I was probably too young to appreciate how truly special this album was, I new I adored it because it was so different from everything else I was listening to at the time.
Yes, there were some scintillating rock guitar riffs on this album, but nothing like the kind of seething inferno of metal-bound chaos that I’d normally be listening to.
No, this was different, it was calm and peaceful and beautiful in a way that I hadn’t really experienced from a rock band (or from anywhere else for that matter).
I loved it, and I took it everywhere with me, including to Newquay, where it basically became the soundtrack of my entire holiday.
Forgive My Indecision, I Am Only A Man
It would be easy to leave this entry there; a memorable holiday in my late teens soundtracked to a beautiful album, but that’s not the end of the story.
On the last day of our holiday, we were getting ready to leave.
I don’t recall where my friends had gone, but I know that I’d wandered off on my own (the habit of a lifetime), and found myself staring out over Fistral Beach, listening to the song 11AM.
I want to tell you that the time was also 11AM, but I fear I may just be making that bit up.
Anyway, as I was stood there, with my whole life still ahead of me, a beautiful sea view in front of me, and this magical music in my ears, I experienced this wonderful moment of serenity the likes of which I hadn’t experienced before, and don’t believe I’ve ever felt since.
As I write this, it occurs to me that a lot of the decisions -both good and bad- that I’ve made over the course of the past decade or so were all ultimately made in an effort to try and recapture that moment of calm and clarity.
I don’t think I realized -up until very recently- that desperately seeking serenity never works. The kind of absolute peace I felt back then only comes when I absolutely let go of everything.
I am Knee Deep In My Own Fear
Stood there, watching the waves crash spectacularly upon the beach, I wasn’t riddled with fear, there was no concerns about my career, or paying bills, or what I was doing with my life.
There was just me, a song, and the unbridled optimism that comes with being young.
As I think about that moment now, I’m almost ready to shed a tear, but don’t worry, it’s one of happiness.
I’m happy because I’ve learned that peace is not something to chase, to strive for and achieve -it’s something that I have to let come to me when the time is right, and when I am willing to let go of everything and just be, just me, just the music, and the sense of optimism that comes from realising that from today, from right now, I still have my whole life ahead of me.
11AM by Incubus is the 33rd song on my list of 52 songs that changed my life. Other entries in this list are below:
- Michael Jackson – Bad
- Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
- Queen – The Hitman
- R.E.M – Drive
- Pink Floyd – The Wall
- The Eagles – Take it Easy
- Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes is Back
- Coal Chamber – Loco
- Type O Negative – Everything Dies
- Monster Magnet – Space Lord
- Live – The Dolphin’s Cry
- Metallica – The Memory Remains
- The Prodigy – Poison
- Nirvana – Territorial Pissings
- Iron Maiden – The Angel & The Gambler
- Metallica – Creeping Death
- Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- System of a Down – Sugar
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Garden of Eden
- Guns ‘n’ Roses – Mr. Brownstone
- Metallica – King Nothing
- The Cranberries – Zombie
- The Offspring – The Meaning of Life
- Muse – New Born
- Biohazard – Resist
- Rage Against The Machine – Testify
- Soil – Halo
- Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss
- Alice in Chains – Would?
- Pearl Jam – Alive
- Tom Petty – Free Falling
- Counting Crows – Mr. Jones