Have you ever met one of those people who are great out of the gate but exiting the second turn seem to just fizzle? Someone who is full of ideas, good ideas even, but sputters to a halt once the actual work begins? One who can find 10,000 excuses for starting tomorrow instead of today? No? “In that case, Hi, I’m Larry.” (Not really but I thought it was a great line from the movie Sky High.)
I could do an entire posting on my life just using lines from movies and songs, that is sad really because I only know a few lines from books I could use. I would have to say that I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s. I am first generation MTV. I remember when “Video Killed the Radio Star” was regularly played on MTV, Martha Quinn was our VJ and Dire Straits was singing “I Want My MTV.” I remember when Madonna was just a Boy Toy Material Girl (wait nothing’s changed there) Pat Benetar, Blondie, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Robert Palmer and a host of others whose videos told stories and captured our attention, at the distraction of things more necessary. Leisure Suits, disco, and the Iranian Hostage debacle were some of the benchmarks of my teenage years, quite the contrast with my redneck, white socks and cowboy hat. I’ve always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole world. Living at the speed of MTV and never looking beyond the moment.
I cannot blame the culture I grew up in for my lack of discipline and my Doctorate in Procrastinology, that is all on me, I am a self-made man in that regard. Instead of reading a classic book… I popped a tape in my “add on” cassette player and cranked up Waylon Jennings, Molly Hatchet, and ELO. Instead of exercising and pursuing my love of baseball… I ended-up living out Jackson Browne’s classic, Smokin’ in the Boys Room. Instead of disciplining myself to schoolwork and get good grades… I floated through, just getting by, living for the Heat of the Moment. Never looking to tomorrow but was more concerned with, “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want it now!” “Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!” I cried from the front seat of my friends Trans Am as we did our best Smokey and the Bandit imitation. My life was just like that scene where the bridge was out, and being young, dumb and foolish I was going to make the attempt to jump it anyway, only to stop short not having the nerve to totally commit to full throttle breakaway. My illusion of life being captured on Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell album was just that, an illusion. Tighter and tighter the spirals of life swirled and I did not see that mine was out of control and I was on the Eve of Destruction.
Sounds very exciting doesn’t it? Kind of a redneck, James Bond, Joe Walsh: Life of Illusion fantasy that I wanted to live out. Reality never came close to the grand fantasy I was living inside myself. I was never able to live up to the person I dreamt myself to be. “But then again, Who Does?” (had to give props to Blade Runner there, this being what, its 25th anniversary) So, things didn’t turn out the way I planned, hmmmm actually that was the problem… I never had a plan. Peg the volume, Fry, Walsh, and Henley are living Life in the Fast Lane at the Hotel California. And the illusion continued.
In ’77 my world came undone when dad died. Mom’s world crashed in on her and in a way I lost both parents that Good Friday morning. Clarence Carter singing, Patches is a poignant memory I have of that spring. That summer consisted of Star Wars and a massive crush on Carrie Fisher, yep that year my fantasy was to be Luke Skywalker, battling the evil Empire and flying off among the stars with the girl. (Lucas messed up a great adolescent fantasy by making Leia, Luke’s sister… at least for all those other nerds who aren’t from West Virginia or Arkansas, kissin’ cousins don’t ya’ knowJ) So by the time High School was over I had it in my mind that I should make my mark on the world at least by the time I turned eighteen. Eighteen came and went so I figured fame and fortune and everything that goes with it was just around the corner by twenty. Twenty was a bittersweet year, still had not made my fortune and the girl I figured I would one day marry started dating my best friend. (They have been happily married for I guess as long as my wife and I have, going on twenty-one years now, and I still count them as some of my best friends.) Later that same year I met my wife-to-be, I just didn’t know it…yet. While she claims that after that first date and that first kiss she went home and told her momma that she had met the man she was gonna marry. I think that was just to stroke my ego… musta’ worked cause we’ve been together for twenty-four years.(married for 21)
So, what was my point here? I wanted to say something important about finishing what you start and having the discipline to see things to the…