Sidharth Gupta, University of Southern California- an essay about an influential figure

Sidharth Gupta, University of Southern California

Sidharth picked up a song that many of us are familiar with. He used that to illustrate his deep attachment to music as well as his determination to stay true to his dreams.  

Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

When I first heard ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd, I never thought this song would become my life’s “mantra”, almost a rallying cry for my personal philosophy.

Five years ago, this was a love song for me, as it is for most people. After all, the first thing that comes to mind when someone sings “How I wish you were here” is a serenade! For a long time, loving the music and the words was enough for me. I never looked beyond the lyrics for any deeper meaning. Over time this became the first song which I completely related to, and the first which attained a deeper meaning in my life and the way I live it.

One emotional evening during a close friend’s farewell party, I sat with her father as he spoke about his life. He said he had a job and life he was happy with, but there was a hint of regret in his voice which indicated that he did not follow his dreams. When he was in college he was passionate about music, but that fell by the wayside as he pursued a successful corporate career.  He told me never to lose touch with my music. As I listened to him the words ringing in my head were “And did they get you to trade, your heroes for ghosts.”

That’s when I realized what this song meant, at least to me. I am challenged by Pink Floyd’s words “Did you exchange / a walk on part in the war / for a lead role in a cage?” I started thinking about who I was and what I wanted to be, and gradually became clear about the choices I should make.

Music is my passion, and always has been. Before truly ‘discovering’ this song, I took a lot of things for granted. I didn’t realize the pressures that I would face to do the normal things that everyone expects me to.  Today, I cherish every note that I play, and keep in mind the difference between my “heroes and ghosts”. I remember to be grateful to my heroes, everyone that inspired me to pursue my passion, and stay away from ghosts, the choices that are simply not suited for me.

From that day, each night I picked up my guitar, looked deep within myself and sang every word of this song. I have vowed never to make the mistake that most people make – try to be “successful” but give up the joy of chasing their dreams. The beginning of this song is played through an old radio, to represent the distance between the listener and music. As I listen to that part, I always wait eagerly for it to end because the thought of distance from music is almost unbearable.