Peter Pickering - Words and Worlds Interwoven

As I reflect on my life, the haunting melody and poignant lyrics of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" resonate deeply within me. This classic rock song, performed beautifully by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart with Jason Bonham at the Kennedy Center in 2012, serves as a metaphor for my journey—a tale of accumulation and loss, of rises and falls, and ultimately, of finding true enlightenment.

The song begins with a lady who is "sure all that glitters is gold," attempting to buy her way to heaven. This notion mirrors my younger years, where I equated success and happiness with material wealth and achievements. I pursued career goals, amassed possessions, and strived for social status, believing these would grant me fulfillment. My life was a series of ups and downs, moments of triumph followed by inevitable losses. Each peak was met with a valley, each accumulation with a subsequent loss.

In the second stanza, the lyrics speak of signs and realisations—of paths that we might have chosen differently. As the years went by, and I experienced the ebb and flow of life, I began to question the value of my pursuits. The losses weighed heavily, each one a reminder of the impermanence of material things. The journey became less about the accumulation of wealth and more about understanding my place in the world.

The mystical imagery of the piper leading us to reason struck a chord with me. In my seventh decade, after much introspection, I came to understand what truly matters. The material things I once valued seemed trivial in comparison to the richness of experiences, the connections with loved ones, and the peace of mind that comes with acceptance. Like the lady in the song who finally realises the folly of her ways, I too found a deeper sense of purpose.

The song's closing lines, "And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul," reflect the journey towards self-awareness. In the twilight of my life, I recognise that I can take nothing with me when I go. The possessions, the accolades, the wealth—they are all ephemeral. What remains is the legacy of love, wisdom, and the impact we have on others.

Today, I feel rich not because of what I own, but because of my acceptance and gratitude for the little that I have. My life's journey, with all its ups and downs, has led me to a place of peace. The years ahead may be few, but they are filled with a sense of fulfillment that eluded me for much of my life.

I invite you to watch the moving performance of "Stairway to Heaven" by Ann and Nancy Wilson, along with Jason Bonham, as they pay tribute to Led Zeppelin. This rendition captures the essence of the song's message and serves as a reminder of the true path to enlightenment.Through the metaphor of a stairway to heaven, I have learned that the journey itself is the destination, and the riches we seek are found within.

Stairway to Enlightenment


There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to Heaven

When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for

Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to Heaven

There's a sign on the wall, but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings

In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, makes me wonder

There's a feeling I get when I look to the West
And my spirit is crying for leaving

In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees
And the voices of those who stand looking

Ooh, it makes me wonder
Ooh, really makes me wonder

And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason

And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter


If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May queen
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on

And it makes me wonder
Ohh, whoa

Your head is humming, and it won't go, in case you don't know
The piper's calling you to join him

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last
When all are one, and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll

And she's buying a stairway to Heaven