When you live in the desert, you try to get out whenever you can.
As per our usual weekly arrangement, I accompanied my lovely wife on her ride down to acting class on Tuesday night. (And by “accompanied,” of course I mean drove the hour-plus ride and she took a nice peaceful nap in the passenger seat.) Matt Wertz came on, track three of my latest mix, singing “Yesterday Morning” (click play above if you’d like a soundtrack). Great song, yes, but it was the timbre of the tune that teleported me. It somehow sent me back to my college days with that familiar nostalgic jangle of acoustic guitar pop/rock that was all the rage some 4-8 years ago. The noises coming from my stereo just sounded like college, if that makes any sense.
Instantly I was 18, a guitar neophyte, learning hammer-ons and new chords, and volunteering to work with the high-schoolers at a local church. I was full of life, full of new knowledge from stimulating university classes, and, to be honest, pretty full of myself. I was living at home with my parents, and friends wth all sorts of people that I no longer talk to… not on purpose, though. It just, well, happens.
I was reliving my experiences, but something wasn’t right. Something wasn’t the same. Something had changed.
The answer came out of nowhere, like an email from the aether — it was me.
In these years that separate the me of then from the me of now, the sound hasn’t changed, but I have.
I realized then that I’m not much different from the earth upon which I live. All around me, as I drove, were rolling hills, made of dust and silt and compound organic matter-type things, forming layers upon layers as time rolls on. The earth never stays the same, either. Winds blow, storms come, things die, things are born; the earth is stretched in constant tension between death and rebirth… and we’re just the same.
The music — Wertz’s song was recorded in early 2001, the end of my sophomore year of college — hasn’t changed. It’s fixed, static, recorded, done.
But I’m not.
Layer upon layer of dirt, of silt — blankets of life and death — are constantly laid upon us as we get older. In many ways, we’ll never be free in the sense that we were “back then.” Concerns and troubles seem to plague us as we age; more is added to more, and as much as we sometimes want to, we cannot shed our experiences like a winter coat in springtime. The heaviness of life is battering ram, juggling act, and weightlifting contest, and the intensity of the game never seems to slacken.
I wonder if becoming an adult just means somehow learning to live with the weight of all this… gravity.