I opened the Amazon package and tried it on. Iron Maiden? Michelle said. I’m reverting to my 12-year old self I retorted looking at the black Trooper hoodie on my squatty body.
Is this really regression? Or is this my 47 year old self trying to tap into my 12-year-old self for a little bit of guidance today based on my dreams of yesterday? Regain some youthful defiance as craftier aged person able to use it for more than just pissing off my parents?
If you recall the scene from American Beauty when Kevin Spacey tells Anette Bening that he rules. This is a dramatic version of the “midlife” crisis. Typically, it seems, attributed to men. We at some point in our lives attempt to go back to a period of time long gone, or take a hard turn into some wild experience that makes others shake their heads.
Am I in mine?
Seemingly reaching back to a few periods. Music is a trigger. Searching for either renewal of fandom or filling in things I feel I missed.
Oddly one of the bands that seems to be triggering me is Tool. I recall hearing/seeing the video for Sober back in the early 90’s. At that time I was a fan of metal still. But I was on to and in to other stuff. Frankly I saw them as just another metal band and they did not fit my ears in 93’. I was way too cool. Not much interest. I felt the same about RATM.
I did not really “discover” them until around 99’ when I happened to see the Prison Sex video on the basic cable in my NMSU housing unit. I was in that particular space for the summer only. I’d just transferred in from the University of Montana. I was just about an hour from El Paso, TX and Ft. Bliss where I’d been just 7-months earlier in the Army. A whirlwind time from trying Missoula after El Paso to Las Cruces. My buddy Mike was still down there and he gave me an extra copy of the Under Tow disc. I actually never listened to it in full until maybe 2003 after having seen Tool live a few times.
My first grasping of Tool was in the summer of 2001. I’d gone up to see a concert in Albuquerque. A festival. And Schism was being played between each band by the rock station promoting the outing. I was intrigued by the sound. Over that summer and leading into the fall I played that disc over and over as I was trying to finish college at NMSU. I added the rest of their catalog that fall. I was a huge fan now. I would see them from the cheap seats in 2002 in Denver and since have gone to every show I could — even traveling. This year, post Omicorn infection, I’ve been able to see them 3 times while traveling for work with plans for a 4th in KC. Pre-COVID I’d seen them in Glendale with Killing Joke opening. I’d not heard much Killing Joke and I was really excited to see them. As I was to see Blonde redhead on this tour.
This musical mid-life crisis I think was actually sparked in 2019. I’d gotten a Ticket Master gift card from my amazing wife Michelle for Christmas 18’. It was great timing as I’d known that Slayer and Iron Maiden would be playing in Phoenix. Both were favorites of mine — Maiden from around 11 and Slayer 13/14. I’d seen Slayer when I was 16 and Maiden never yet. 2019 was like the best concert year I’d had in awhile — Slayer for my pre-birthday (May 2 2019), Maiden in the fall, and then the final show of the final tour (Final Campaign) for Slayer in LA after Thanksgiving. I’d worked in some other stuff also that was Newly mind blowing (Jesse Dayton a few times in KC and Phoenix).
Tool is sort of bridge, given their influences. Sonically lot of metal. But the changes throughout the music come from much more — punk, 80’s New Wave, hybrids of those musics, and dare I say “classical” music. A perfect companion at this time in life where I’m regularly having to maneuver between first and fifth gears.
As I sit here approaching 48, not literally in my new Trooper sweatshirt (it’s not washed yet), I’m thinking why now am I almost jumping out of my skin trying to figure out why I did not follow some music and ideas at multiple points in my life in lieu of others. I know some of those answers. I know, but try to resist the urge to chase after some wasted years (those I know I could not help myself from drowning my desires for something else with too many beers and half assed approaches to career and life changes).
Can’t bring back something you lost. Can’t reimagine the past into something else. And it’s a waste of time to fret over things you never did — hell you might even still do them I tell myself given the right balance of frustration, opportunity, capital and will.
I think this crisis, if you insist on calling it that, is a true wake up. It is a jolt that yes the years you’ve got are about half way spent. BUT! Really it should be a calling that you have a lot left.
With 40 in the rear view and 50 setting the pace as Jesse Dayton (he’s awesome you should listen) sings and says when I hear him live, I find myself in a really great spot.
I bitch and moan a lot. Complain like a petulant child at times. Have moments that I believe my life’s been wasted. BUT! I also know I’ve got a young son (10 year old Aden), a young relationship with his Mom (Michelle and I have been together since just 2010), and a very young and thriving business (Revival’s almost 2 as a full-time venture). That’s plenty of awesome to keep me going and building this second act of at least two stages and 3 if I’m lucky in my life.
I may have indeed missed some music. Some shows. Some opportunities expanding my pallet learning from others and what their into. Some opportunities to share with others my stories and make them part of mine. BUT! I still have a lot of time left.
It’s getting harder to have the energy to go out for a show; I’ve been battling that for the entire last 10 years we’ve lived in AZ. I do better when I’m traveling to take in a show. Maybe it’s not energy and it’s really priority and a different yearn.
My challenge now, as it was 20, 10 even last year is finding the time to explore all that interests me. I guess that’s just life. You have to choose. You may have to slow the wagon on one trail so you can pursue a parallel or different path. The older I get I’d like to think that’s easier to pull off. And, I feel less guilty (or at least apologize less) for doing so.
Midlife thus I think is really more about being yourself more and caring less about others perceptions. For example I’d never published this 10 years ago. It’s not a crisis. It’s a celebration and reboot. Rebirth with the benefit of lessons from years lived. No regrets. Lessons and tools to squeeze more out that a younger self had yet to develop.