Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm still alive

You might think this post is about surviving yesterday and today with my children since the school district did, in fact, cancel school because it is cold.  We're weather pussies here, I tell you.
No, this post is about watching Pearl Jam: 20, a documentary by Cameron Crowe on "the" band that was my soundtrack for 4 years of undergrad.  The band I saw in concert and for which I skipped Shakespeare...the ONLY class I ever skipped in college.

I was, and continue to be, so completely bad-ass.

Watching this film as a 40-year-old, as a mother of 3, as I walked on the treadmill and then lifted weights, was a bit surreal.  When I was highly into the band, they seemed so much older than me, so far removed yet with an anger, a dissatisfaction that I could taste because that same anger, insecurity, dissatisfaction was what I ate and drank as well.

I don't know if it was shared overgrown teenage angst, the rut of late teens and most of one's twenties that makes people so lost, or if it was a cultural response to the politics and economics of the time.  But as I was watching the snippets of Andy Rooney complaining about the nonsense of "these kids being so angry.....and about what?," I didn't find myself agreeing with him, which is sorta what I expected.

The members of Pearl Jam are now middle-aged dudes with kids, and I am a middle-aged woman with kids.  Perhaps we need to be as old as Andy Rooney was when he launched that diatribe to get what he was saying?  Or perhaps it is a generational thing?  Maybe my entire generation, though mature now and with some wisdom, is still dissatisfied?  Though we've settled into ourselves and lives and our roles within those lives, perhaps there will always be a part of us that is inherently unhappy with the way things are with the world and within ourselves?

Or is it an artistic thing?  I have always been a writer, though on my itty-bitty scale of life, and not on the world stage at LARGE as Pearl Jam was and is.  Artists of various kinds often tend to be unhappy, morose, serious, deep, whatever.

And yet, watching the documentary, I felt a pulse of understanding of this aging experience.  The words do not mean to me now what they meant 20 years ago, but I can still feel what I felt then as I listened.  I remember what they meant.  I remember that vast lostness that surrounded me.  There is a part of my soul that remains stuck in it.

Am I not feeling it as intensely because I'm blessedly medicated or because I'm older?  Or both?

At 40, I'm past so much of that angst, but there is still the longing, the questioning, the existential turmoil that pinches me, keeps me churning, although at a much less hectic pace than it once did.  
Is something wrong, she said.
Well, of course, there is.
You're still alive, she said.
Oh, and do I deserve to be?
Is that the question?
And, if so, if so,
Who answers?
Who answers?

I, oh, I'm still alive.

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