How ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ helped connect me to the world

What Pink Floyd's 1973 album taught this columnist about living with CF

William Ryan avatar

by William Ryan |

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There are certain albums that have withstood the test of time and become legendary as they’re passed down from one generation to the next. That list includes, but isn’t limited to, The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours,” and Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

The last album that comes to mind is “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd’s 1973 album has connected people all over the world with its universal themes of time, mortality, consumerism, and finding a place in the world. The album had two key catalysts. The first was the band’s co-founder and bassist, Roger Waters, coming to grips with his childhood in post-World War II England, in the rubble of a country heavily bombed by Nazi Germany. Second is the band’s relationship with their former creative leader, Syd Barrett, who left Pink Floyd in 1968 due to mental health issues.

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In my lifetime, I’ve struggled to connect with people and relate to the world at large because of my cystic fibrosis (CF). Growing up with CF can feel like you’ve lost something before you get a chance to have it, but you don’t know what that something is until years later. For me, it was a craving for normalcy — a life without the cloud of this disease hovering over me.

The isolation of living with cystic fibrosis has been built into the fabric of the disease for almost all of my life. Since the mid-to-late 1990s, I haven’t interacted with another CFer in person.

My favorite song on the album, “Time,” has bonded my dad and me in ways that I’m only beginning to understand at age 30. He introduced me to Pink Floyd years ago during a summer vacation in Wildwood, New Jersey. My dad was in high school when “The Dark Side of the Moon” came out, so he has the in-the-moment perspective of how “Time” and the rest of the album changed the world — like I do with Grizzly Bear’s 2009 album “Veckatimest.”

“Time” taught me to embrace life, and that even though my limited time on earth is besieged by CF, I should do everything I want to do and can do before it’s too late. My favorite line is: “You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today/ And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you/ No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

I think of that line every time I’m deciding on something I’m afraid to do. The line motivated me to do stand-up comedy. The line motivated me to ask my now wife out on our first date. The line motivated me to apply to be a columnist for CF News Today.

“The Dark Side of the Moon” has comforted me during hospital stays where I was mostly isolated from the outside world. The album’s closing song, “Eclipse,” humbles me during times of stress and abandonment. Its message is that no matter how major or trivial a situation may seem, time and life move on. NBA coach Phil Jackson’s life lessons can only get me so far. “The sun is eclipsed by the moon,” after all.

Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.


Anthony Palmiero avatar

Anthony Palmiero

I love Pink Floyd.Seen them many times in concert. Nice work Will. Love ya

William Ryan avatar

William Ryan

I wish I could have! Love you too!

Helen Palmiero avatar

Helen Palmiero

Pink Floyd?! Dark Side of the Moon?! Your article put me in a time machine and sent me backwards many decades! I'm so glad it was so relatable for you and helped you through so many rough patches. And I distinctly remember that during the eras of that type of music, so many just laughed it off as teenage nonsense, not even bothering to listen to any of that "senseless rock and roll". Glad you're so happy from these songs because I like to see those I love happy. Love, Helen

William Ryan avatar

William Ryan

They've aged like a fine wine and now are an important piece of global culture!


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