Against the wind
We were runnin' against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin'
Against the wind
I don’t like to admit it, but I’m getting old. Not as much physically as mentally, and it’s changed the way I perceive things. I don’t feel comfortable calling it maturity, because I’m fairly certain that would be stretching the definition of the word. But I have noticed that I react differently to situations these days and I seem a lot slower to anger and less excitable about the smaller things.
I was thinking about this the other day and found myself reflecting on being back in school of all things. While at the time it seemed to be the hardest thing in the world, in retrospect, it was the simplest. There was a girl named Jennifer who liked to chase the boys around in Kindergarten and try to kiss us. It seems ridiculous now that we saw getting caught as the most horrible thing in the world; but there we were, running and hiding from this pretty little girl who just wanted to plant a kiss on us.
You were correct, ladies. Boys are stupid.
The years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home
My best friend Duke and I used to catch the bus to school together. We would huddle on the floor of the school bus and use the bench seat as a place to do homework, play football with those little paper triangles, and listen to music. Despite the fact that he had been dead for years and that we were in the third grade, we both had a fascination with Elvis Presley, and used to play cassette tapes we got from our parents as the bus made the long journey to school.
We were inseparable. When an 8th grade girl thought it would be funny to put gum in my hair, he defended me and backed up my story to the bus driver. When a 6th grade boy tried to take Duke’s tape recorder, we both wailed on him until he gave it back. 3rd and 4th grade flew by in a haze of Elvis, touch football, and frequent bus skirmishes. But school friendships are notoriously fickle and tend to be based on shallow things. Duke was my best friend because we lived on the same street, we liked the same stuff, and we were in the same class. Once that changed, the friendship faded and we moved on.
On a side note, that 8th grade girl went on to be a pretty well known musician around here. She doesn’t know it yet, but I will get my revenge. Even if I have to put gum in her hair at her damn funeral, I will get my revenge…
And I guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed
Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searching
Searching for shelter again and again
It’s amazing how bloody intelligent I became in high school. I knew more than my parents, my teachers, and any other adult that crossed my path. And I made such good choices! Why I was not immediately handed a diploma in 9th grade and sent off to Harvard to save the world is one of the deepest mysteries of our time, and historians will ponder the injustice of it all for centuries to come. It was a travesty, really.
Lost is an understatement. I should really be dead. I can recall at least four occasions (vaguely), that should have resulted in my death or serious injury. There were certainly more. And contrary to what I hear from the teenagers I am forced to talk to everyday, every one of those occasions was MY FAULT. I made mind-bogglingly stupid decisions despite the best efforts of my parents. They tried their best to raise a son who knew his ass from a hole in the ground and they did the right things. I KNEW the difference between right and wrong.
And that what made me such an insufferable little prick. I knew better, but still chose to act like a complete asshole. The embarrassment I caused them was inexcusable and I am lucky that they didn’t kick me out or disown me. For people whom I treated like they were lobotomized lepers, they were pretty patient with my consistently poor judgment. And they were always there to offer shelter and a hand to pick me up after another spectacular fall…
Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind
Well those drifter's days are past me now
I've got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out
I don’t like being more careful. I don’t think it’s even a conscious decision. There’s certainly more to lose now if something should go wrong. I have responsibilities, and not just to myself and to my family. An entire community is affected by the decisions and the choices I make these days, and as cavalier as I try to appear, this reality does affect my decision making process. Not because I have become particularly mature but simply because I have become a Man.
I often think about what it would be like to cash it all in, fly off somewhere no one knows me, and disappear. Re-inventing yourself with no limitations holds a certain appeal, as you could literally become anyone you wish. But then I realize that while such escapism is great for a quick daydream, it’s just that; fantasy. Realistically, you would be hiding out from your past and yourself. I can make up a wildly exciting background for myself and have everyone think I was great, but when it’s all said and done and I’m alone, I’m still me. And I would know it, despite the persona I created.
Part of being a Man is doing what needs to be done and doing it to the best of your ability. It means that I take all potential consequences in to account and look beyond the immediate gratification of my own wants. It ultimately means that I give a shit; not just about myself. Being a grown up requires that I do so. Being a Man means I do it without bitching, whining, and worrying about things that aren’t “fair”. Life is a crap shoot; we take the punches along with the rewards. We have to be able to accept either with the same grace and gratitude, because we learn from both outcomes.
Doesn’t get any easier, though…
Against the wind
I'm still runnin' against the wind
I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind
“Against The Wind” by Bob Seger