Thursday, November 3, 2011

"that's when the music takes me..."

...takes me to a brighter day."

a howard greenfield lyric to one of my favorite neil sedaka songs.  greenfield's lyrics were often filled with enough sap-laden, sugar-coated, syrupy sweet sentiment to make even the most rabid barry manilow fan feel a little sick to his stomach.  but greenfield's sap - "life is a smile so find it, put your face behind it," - always managed to cheer me.  make me smile.  embarrass me a little, yes, but still -- lift me out of any duldrums.  turn any frown upside down.

lately, the music seems to take me to fewer and fewer "brighter days."

more and more i find myself wiping away a tear or two when i listen to a favorite song - whether it's one i've loved for years or a new one i've just fallen for.  tears of joy, sometimes, yes.  but mixed with the joy is more often than not a tinge of melancholy, a touch of longing, a hint of ...could it be regret? 

nah.  no regrets

maybe it's time i'm feeling sad about. or a perceived lack of it.  the older you get, the more you feel time slipping away.  what once seemed like an endless summer -- an open road ahead, days upon countless days and tomorrows and on -- now seem to be ever so gently shifting to autumn, or at least the end of warm weather.  the band may not be gearing up for "auld lang syne," but the subtle rust red outline is beginning to creep further toward the center of the leaves.

i am aging.

we all, of course, are aging.  it starts the moment we're slapped on the bottom and put in our mother's arms.  but it isn't something you conciously feel until, well, you feel it.  in your body.  in your breath.  in your spirit.

the spirit, mind you, is still strong.  the spirit is still 23 at times.  still a boy.  but there is heaviness too.

please.  this is not a bad thing.  realizing your time on the planet is not limitless can help you appreciate things your younger self no doubt took for granted: a friendly smile from a passer by,  a sincere compliment from a friend or co-worker,  a happy exchange with a loved one.  a hearty laugh.  and there is something in this aging that drives you to feel and care more deeply than ever.  more intensely than a younger person might.  than a younger you might.  because now... you know.  you just.  know.

and there's the rub.  once you've grown old enough to appreciate it all so genuinely and sincerely, there is less time left to live it.  something you squandered as a youth you cherish as an adult.  and now there is an innate desire to somehow be transported back to those days so you could appreciate them with the knowledge and experience you have now.

theatre.  work.  the next job.  "going for it." acting and auditioning and agents and my book and my headshots and my resume and my career and, please, my career.  promotions and bottom lines and investments and dividends and money and the rest.  getting ahead, making it big, hitting the jackpot.  enough of that for now.

how's your mother?  when's the last time you talked to your dad?  is your sister-in-law's cancer still in remission? when is the last time you had a really good cup of coffee?  did you happen to walk past those lilacs yesterday?  didn't they smell amazing?

this past summer i went to a wedding reception for the first time in i can't remember when.  (probably since i was in the band playing at the hall, calling for the bride and groom to slow dance to the theme from ice castles.)  that night, for an hour or two, time stood still.  the music, the dance floor, the world seemingly, was full of life and joy for nothing but the moment.  no yesterday.  certainly no tomorrow.  it was now and now.  while we danced to a great old stevie wonder song, or an earth, wind and fire classic, or james brown or anybody.  nothing else mattered in those vivid, beautiful moments but the music, the people around me, and the movement.

it was heaven.

and truly, as the end of life just barely comes peeping into view, if that's what heaven is like then there's nothing to be afraid of.  i just hope i can dance like that again and again and again and again until i finally dance like that forever.  when the music truly does take me to a brighter day.

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