It’s not the first time I have felt a change inside me. It happens every couple of years. Sometimes I can have a decade long streak before I hit a change. Other times it can be a single picture or line and I am changed immediately. Life works within those parameters.
What’s the old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
The first real change for me occurred in 1990. Pretty good year for change.
Around 1994 another change hit and from then on time ebbed and flowed. I was always a little on the outside looking in. Each new adventure I took was like a snake shedding its skin. Some got it. Others didn’t.
Change is frustrating to those around you. Most people hold on to a mental image of you regardless of the circumstance. To some I am still twelve years old stealing comics and questioning any authority coming my way. Others see me as the guy in charge. Some see me as a songwriter. Others see me as an old guy needing to grow up. I seem to get it all. People need to place others in categories. Their little brains can’t comprehend people change. I get it.
My dad once told me time goes faster as you get older. I’m feeling that way now. Yesterday during my morning walk I realized I was 42 and I also realized I didn’t remember my 30s. My thirties were one of those decade long, slow changes. You find yourself in the rat race and when you look up ten years have passed. My thirties did that to me.
I just finished reading a poem by Frank Stanford called Planning the Disappearance of Those Who Have Gone
Soon I will make my appearance
But first I must take off my rings
And swords and lay them out all
Along the lupine banks of the forbidden river
In reckoning the days I have
Left on this earth I will use
And from there I am reminded of Raymond Carver’s poem Late Fragment…
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Late Fragment hits home for me. I find myself asking “And did you get what you wanted from this life…” It is a good question. Tough, but good.
All of these things leads to my latest work – American Boy.
American boy is an old song written in the early 1990s. If I had to put an exact year – I would say 1992. I started writing songs in 1990 but didn’t show anyone until I left high school. The song is an ode to the American dream and to my father. Work hard and the rest will come. My father and I are a lot alike. Our independent minds need to come to their own conclusions. My mother and father lived by two basic beliefs work hard and family comes first. Everything else fell into place from those two things.
I came across cache of photos my mom had digitized. Being the creative type I merged the photos with one of my songs. It wasn’t revolutionary but it somehow struck a chord with my parents and my brothers. I’m glad it did. I have been to a couple of funerals this past year and each time I see families pouring through photos. I see how precious those photos become in times of loss. Those photos become what are left. I have an obligation to keep this up now because life is art. Art is life. These two worlds now collide. They’ve been two separate circles for me for a long time. It makes sense now to merge them. Once again I am changing. Maybe it is because I am getting older or maybe I see how important our time here must be.
Take pictures. Record voices and video. Back them up. Treasure them and share them. They will be worth more than you think.