Friday, February 3, 2017

Caught Between the Beaches & the Backstreets of Our Lives

You can't be afraid of getting old.
Old is good, if you're gathering in life.
- Bruce Springsteen 

I arrived here, well not here exactly but close enough to not upset the narrative apple cart, on this very date in 1967.  I shall today - as I do every year - call Mom and thank her for the day.  Truth be told, other than showing up, I had scant little to do with it.  Huh, even then...

Once upon a lifetime or two ago, when I lived my life in a state of perpetual intoxication, and was significantly more of an unrepentant asshole than I even presently am, had Vegas established a betting line on Yours truly and fifty, I would have bet the under.  As it turns out, I would have lost. Then again, had I won, I would not been able to collect my winnings.  I reckon at day's end, on that score anyway, I broke even.  I shall not complain about it. 

In that lifetime I lived - an iteration or two ago - I never envisioned being married.  I certainly never envisioned being a father (although on at least a couple of occasions, the specter of "fathering a child" appeared above the liquor-fueled horizon line, and mercifully - for all concerned - disappeared from whence it came). Yet, this year Margaret and I shall mark our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary.  In four months, Rob and Jess shall be married for three years.  In seven months, Suzanne and Ryan will complete their fourth marital lap.  And, before either of those two events occurs, the first grand-baby is scheduled to arrive.  An extraordinary thing.  Simply extraordinary.

I am not a birthday celebrant.  I mark them.  I do not celebrate them.  My approach has nothing at all to do with any fear of getting old.  I have no such fear.  Nor does it have anything to do with any reluctance to get old.  I possess no such reluctance. I simply do not see the point in the exercise.  I take zero issue with those who are birthday enthusiasts.  I am married to one.  I love that Margaret loves to celebrate her birthday.  And I love, as well, her understanding of the fact that I take a decidedly more low-key approach to mine.  

Left unsaid in Mr. Springsteen's otherwise apt observation is that in the process of gathering in life, you invariably gather in unpleasant business as well.  Dying is a part of life.  It is a part of life that is acknowledged with far greater frequency than it is embraced.  When it comes for one who you love, it is an infuriating part of life.  It is especially so when its arrival is not a sudden blitzkrieg attack but, instead, the result of a stalking of considerable length and incalculable hardship.  

As time accelerates and, then, accelerates again, it can be difficult to step back and take a moment to appreciate all the life that you have gathered in.  Perhaps that is a purpose of one's birthday.  It serves as a day on which you can exhale for a moment and reflect upon your particular "life-gathering" exercise.  A day not for celebration but, rather, a day for reflection - upon all that you have gathered on your journey, be it good, bad, or heartbreaking.

Gotta be brave.  This gathering-in-of-life business ain't for the faint of heart...

"Thank You For Bringing Me Home"
Biltmore (Live at WBRU, Providence 12/11/16) 

...but then again, neither is rock and roll.  

Go get 'em, Phil.

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