Saturday, August 27, 2005

Life Envy ...

Envy is a wasted emotion, right? Why be envious of others? Why not simply be grateful for all that is yours?

But emotion defines the human experience, and so far in this life, I haven't discovered the secret to turning any one emotion off. And so envy: there it is.

Paul McCartney is coming to Chicago in October. Tickets went on sale in April. I bought two. I didn't know, at the time, who I'd go with. I just bought them. Someone, I presumed, would want to go, too.

That night, I went to see Bruce in Detroit. On the phone, in the car after the show, I raved to Dave about the set. My voice is rarely so high-pitched. "And!," I said, "And I scored tickets to McCartney this morning! Did you get tickets?"

"No," Dave said. "I didn't realize they were going on sale today, and by the time I heard about it on the radio, they were gone."

I invited Dave to go with me.

Last week, instead, I gave him the tickets, so he could go with his wife.

Some of my friends think I've lost my mind, and to them I say this now:

Dave is a musician. Dave is a musican because of The Beatles. The Beatles set the course for his life at an age when most of us probably still wanted to be cowboys.

Who of us can understand what that means? I am a writer, but I'm not a writer because of another writer. Yes, there are writers I admire, admire greatly, but I did not read their work when I was young and think to myself, "I am going to devote my life to words."

Dave did. He wrote to me once (and I don't think he'll mind my sharing this with you):

"The band and their music are the most powerful memory I have of my mid to teenage years, and it is a priceless memory that has not faded a bit.

I can remember vividly seeing 'A Hard Day's Night' at the Cinema theater in Mt. Prospect.

My life changed right there.

I already knew all the words to all the songs, and had held a broom like a guitar and tried to look like them in the mirror, but to see them playing their tunes on the set in the movie gave me a feeling that I hadn't yet known, and it still feels like yesterday."

I envy him his direction, his assuredness, from early on, that he had found in the Beatles his life's guides.

I recognize that life is a journey. Andrew Malcolm, a new favorite writer and father of a friend, recently wrote to me, "Don't fret too much about where you're going or you'll miss the pleasure of the ride, which (I'll tell you a secret here) is what determines where you're really going anyway." Still, I wish I were more sure.


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