Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Book of The Bard

Amongst many things, my mother taught me the dangerous
but timely lesson that there is a love seemingly beyond love,
beyond our control, and it will take us through our lives bestowing
blessings and curses as they fall. It will set you on fire, confuse you, 
drive you to passion and extreme deeds, and may smite the 
reasonable, modestly loving parts of who you are. Love has a great 
deal to do with humility.  In my parents' love, there was kindness, 
a beyond-human compassion, an anger, a compulsive fidelity, 
a generosity and an unconditionality that scorched everything
in its path. It was exclusive. It was not humble. 
It was their love. 
-Bruce Springsteen

One of the great pleasures of my life - for the past four decades or so (ever since Bill introduced me to his music) - has been Bruce Springsteen's music.  For as long as I have loved his music, it has been his use of language - even more than the music that accompanies it - that has bonded me to it and, by extension, to him.  

That being said, he has never written anything that has spoken to me - or shall resonate with me - as has his autobiography, "Born To Run", which I finished reading yesterday.  As a man who is - to grossly understate the point - somewhat walled off emotionally (it is not an exaggeration to say that I have cried less than ten times in the thirty-five years since my father's death), I was profoundly moved by innumerable passages in the book.  He wrote of his father - and their relationship - in words that I have searched for for close to a half-century to describe my relationship with my father, during which we shared just a bit more than fourteen years.  

Those whose love we wanted but could not get, we emulate.  
It is dangerous but it makes us feel closer, 
gives us an illusion of the intimacy we never had. 
It stakes our claim upon that which was rightfully ours but denied.  
- Bruce Springsteen 

For me, childhood ended on a warm, not-quite-yet-officially summer morning thirty-five and one-half years ago.  I have lived almost three and one-half times as long (and counting hopefully) without him as I lived with him.  Fortunately, long after he bade us farewell, Mom continues to be pound-for-pound the toughest old Irish broad around.  Eighty-eight years old and still living life on her own terms.  She is, and remains, the first great gift of my life, without whom nothing that I have achieved, professionally or personally, would have been possible. 

We honor our parents by carrying their best forward 
and laying the rest down. By fighting and taming the demons 
that laid them low and now reside in us. 
It's all we can do if we're lucky.  I'm lucky.  
I have a wife I love, a beautiful daughter and [a handsome son].  
We are close.  We do not suffer the alienation
and confusion I experienced in my family.  
Still the seeds of my father's troubles
lie buried deep in our we have to watch. 
-Bruce Springsteen 

Reading Springsteen's book was, for me, an experience that was nothing short of cathartic.  I thank him for writing it.  I shall remain forever in his debt for having done so.  


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