See The Changes

I’m gonna be sixty.

And unlike Tommy Mottola and Lyor Cohen I’m not gonna shave a decade off my age in order to appear young and hip, because my hip hurts, you can get plastic surgery, put on a happy face, but you’re still your real age inside, you might as well own it, especially because once you die you’ll be…forgotten.

That’s the dirty little secret. You think you matter, that you’ll be remembered, but has anybody even mentioned Mindy McCready to you today? I think not. And that proves the point.

Surviving is difficult. All those musicians who O.D.’ed, they took the easy way out. Life is full of changes and challenges. Every time you think you know what’s going on the mirrors descend, the fast ball turns into a curve ball and you’re suddenly clueless. The only ones confident in their opinions are the youngsters, who know so little they think they know everything.

Yesterday I went to Costco. I am not a member. Because I don’t have a family. That’s one thing I forgot to do. Oh, I had the biological urge about twenty years ago, when I was still married but estranged from my ex-wife, I told her I wanted to get back together to procreate, but she didn’t. And then the time passed by. And I’m not about to have children now. Most of the birth defects come from older fathers, and if my dad died when I was twenty not only would I have been crestfallen, I might not have been able to pull myself up by my bootstraps. We need people to rely upon, to point the way, to be in our corner. Otherwise life’s just too difficult.

And after eating a strangely bland hot dog I went into the emporium and was confronted with scads of people much younger than myself, beating the prices at the Albertsons right next door. It was so exciting, poring through the goods, more fun than being famous, like Camille Grammer and Johnny Rzeznik, whom I saw at the baggage carousel the night before. Camille, with her puffed-up lips, was just sad and probably lonely. We think fame will solve our problems. But that was back before anybody could be on TV, when we had contempt for those on the box, as opposed to looking up to them. As for Rzeznik, there was an old guy with a video camera following him around, but nobody else recognized him, in a coif that he’d probably like to abandon, despite it being his trademark. How much time did it take to pouf it up? We get older and we just want to relax, be ourselves, not waste time, do our best to fit into life like an old worn-out shoe.

And then there was the girl stumbling around in the high heels. These I don’t get. You can’t walk so you’ll look cool to other women? Overpaying for the privilege of wrecking your feet? Or maybe I missed the memo, maybe I’m the outlier here, but I get turned-on by these suddenly taller females not a bit. Kind of like Stevie Nicks on Letterman last week. Teetering on high heels singing a song nobody cared about. It’s just sad. Having to emulate who you once were. As the rest of the world ages, adjusts, moves on.

She has seen me changing
It ain’t easy rearranging
And it gets harder as you get older
And farther away as you get closer

Crosby, Stills & Nash reunited. Young didn’t bother, he had a burgeoning solo career, the rest hit a dead end, their hits dried up, as did their audience. And these albums are supposed to disappoint, check the history of rock and roll, reunions never satiate, and 1977’s “CSN” wasn’t quite as good as what came before, but it was surprisingly excellent, with the still on the radio “Dark Star” and “Just A Song Before I Go” but the even better “I Give You Give Blind,” “Shadow Captain” and the piece de resistance, “See The Changes.”

The predecessor was “4 + 20″ on “Deja Vu.” I lived in Utah with a twenty four year old wondering where his life had taken him. He sat in front of the stereo playing that track over and over, feeling the solidarity, trying to gain wisdom.

And then, surprisingly, Stephen Stills gave an update.

Ten years singing right out loud
I never looked was anybody listening
Then I fell out of a cloud
I hit the ground and noticed something missing

We think we know where we’re going. We have a plan and stick to it. Or we fall into something and do our best to get ahead and then suddenly…time has passed, we’re older, we can’t get back to where we once belonged, we can’t start over, and suddenly we’re not sure we like where we are.

It’s the human condition. It causes firings, quittings and divorces. It’s our one and only go-round and we don’t want to make a mistake. And what they don’t tell you is it’s hard enough to accomplish one thing, never mind everything. Suddenly you take a good look around because you’re never going to be back. You lose your looks, you’ve still got the sexual fantasy, but not quite the ability, and the people at Costco are younger than you.

And that’s when you hear “See The Changes” on the radio.

That’s exactly what happened yesterday.

After seeing the two bedraggled men exiting the building wearing brand new bright orange Fila sneakers, on sale for barely double digits, after holding back from scolding the mother with the toddler balancing on the handrail of the cart, about to fall off, after seeing a 65″ TV for $3500, after realizing that while I was busy in my house trying to make it for twenty five years, everything changed, I tuned into the mellifluous sound of Stephen Stills telling me he experienced the same damn thing.

It’s hard to rearrange. That’s what freaks me out about my contemporaries, not their eagerness to diet and fit into children’s clothing, but their lack of desire to change. They like physical books, they abhor the DVR, they’re dead and they don’t even know it yet. They’ve given up. And what happens next is you’re discarded. Like the Republican Party, which couldn’t read the statistics, which didn’t realize the immigrant tsunami, the people of color, were going to bury them. Adjust or die.

And I was once young too, with an answer for everything. But now I hit countless dead ends. I know Verizon has better connections than AT&T, that all those using another provider are having a second-rate experience, but maybe they have a good sex life, maybe the connection just doesn’t matter.

Now I have someone
She has seen me changing
And it gets harder as you get older
And farther away as you get closer

But at least now I have someone. Because being alone positively sucks. Living alone leaves your options open, but as the window closes you don’t realize what you’re missing. You’re left out of couples social life, you don’t go on vacation, and you’re forced to log on to OKCupid where everybody’s desirous of coupling up but refuses to do the work to see why they’re alone. Set in their ways, they don’t realize the problem is them. That you’ve got to change to make it. In life. In relationships.

Nobody laughing
All the good times
Getting harder to come by without weeping

Instead of discussing bands, you talk about your health. Everybody I know has cancer. Except for those too scared to go to the doctor. Believing if they live in denial they’ll be okay. But the Big C waits for no one. Do it now, go to the doctor and live, because if you think the sand in the hourglass is endless, you’re sorely mistaken. Turns out there’s not as much as you think. And you don’t want to live forever anyway, with all your friends gone.

And I don’t know the answer
Does it even matter?
I’m wonderin’ how

The question of the ages, the meaning of life. What is it? Damn if I know. Anybody who tells you otherwise is ignorant or a charlatan. In high school you want to live for yourself, make all your own decisions. As you age you look for the instruction book, the manual, you want answers, because you certainly have none.

But it’s all irrelevant.

Forty years ago there was no Costco. For all I know, forty years from now food will be grown at home in your 3-D printer. Just like you no longer have to go to the post office to send a missive, how you no longer have to go to the bank to manage your money, the changes come fast and furious, unforeseen. And you do your best to adjust.

And it does get harder as you get older.

And sheer will cannot fight Father Time.

And it is farther away as you get closer.

Just when you think you’ve finally figured it out, you find out you were wrong. The hurricane destroys your house, depletes your life savings. The earthquake topples your abode. You thought you were prepared, but life is laughing at you. Pray if it makes you feel better, but no one’s listening. Not God, not the government, not the media. You’re on your own.

Unless you’ve got a good record collection.

And someone to listen to it with.

Then you’re all right.

See The Changes – Spotify

See The Changes – YouTube

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  1. Pingback by Why Google Rewards the Fearless | Jessica Ann Media | 2013/06/24 at 19:08:40

    […] Other than braving the Alpine Slide at Action Park throughout childhood (and the unavoidable knee scrapes), my exposure to fear was limited. I got the cushy job and did what you’re supposed to do according to society. I went to college and worked full-time (often three different jobs) while getting a Master’s degree. I then sauntered on to work in corporate America and a non-profit with a mission. I put my head down thinking that it would all make sense in the end. Because in the end I could innovate and evolve. Only many people don’t know how to evolve before it’s too late. Because it’s hard to rearrange: […]

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