I've spent hours thinking about this song and it still draws me in every time. I love peeling the layers one after another, contemplating all the ways the story of a life so different from mine can feel so close and relevant.
The character in this song feels himself losing connection to the things that matter to him, the things that give him shape, context, and identity. He left his family to chase significance. He's in crisis now because he's drifted so far from his family that he can remember packing a picture of them but can't remember why. He's in crisis because he left that behind and when he got to the end of the chase, he didn't see anything but road.
He moves forward because it's the only direction he's ever gone and it's the only one he sees left but the winds of purpose and urgency that propelled him forward have disipated like the whiff of smoke that drifts away when a matchstick is extinguished. His shitty world sometimes produces a rose but the beautiful scent only briefly lingers. He followed his heart down a one-way street that feels like it's going to dead end at any moment, to a place where his feelings don't matter because they can't change anything: where he is, where he's been, what he brought with him, and what he left behind.
On his worst days, he replays it all in his mind in longform. On a good day, he can slice away the sentimentality and cut to the present where he's no less lost but- what is it people say? At least he didn't suffer?