Friday, November 2, 2007

Glad I'm Alive

Bruce Springsteen concert ticket, right, June 8, 1978, $7.50

I just shaved my legs.

Once it's too cold to wear shorts, I don't usually bother to shave. But I am bucking my seasonal trend because in a few hours I am going to see Bruce Springsteen. It's not that I expect my calves to get up-close and personal with anyone after the concert. It's that the event is worthy of ritual actions of the sort you perform before liminal events.

For me, going to see Bruce is reconnecting with life.
This afternoon, I think back to an afternoon in 2003, several months after my mother killed herself. I was having a hard time getting through the days, and I asked a friend who slogs through depression every day how he does it.
First he offered some advice that requires heroic effort (e.g. "Make yourself go outside daily, even if you just sit in the doorway").

Then, more gently, he asked, "What are you looking forward to?"

I thought awhile. "Nothing," I said.

He was unfazed. "I bet you're looking forward to feeling better," he said.

"Yeah," I said, "that's true." But it seemed kind of theoretical.

Describing why I like Bruce to a literary friend who isn't into rock and roll, I said his life force is Dylan Thomas's "green fuse that drives the flower." For a few years, heavy incoming charges kept blowing my fuse.
But life, like rock music, relentlessly pushes for connection. Eventually I started to feel better.

A few months ago, I got out my audiocassette tape of "Born to Run" for the first time in ten, fifteen years. Half the songs played warped. I listened to the whole thing anyway. I could still sing every line. The next day I bought the CD and listened to it over and over, the way I listened to the record when I was sixteen.

Soon afterward, I heard Bruce was coming to town and I knew I wanted to see him again. It's been a long time, but I'm glad I'm alive. Like the man says, that sure ain't no sin.

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