Driving in my car this weekend I heard Pearl Jam's "Alive." Immediately a memory developed, which happens a lot for me when it comes to music. I was a college freshman at a fraternity party and news of Kurt Cobain's passing had just been announced. A TV had been turned on and MTV was playing a live clip of Pearl Jam in concert. (For all you kids not familiar with this - MTV once played actual music.) They were playing "Alive" which they had dedicated to Cobain. The entire party went silent to watch the scene unfold. As I heard the song on the radio I remembered how popular that album had been and then it hit me....how old it was.
And if it was old, well then I was....older.
I've had more moments like this lately than I would care to admit; moments when I think of some movie, song, event, etc. I always seem to think that it was just a year or so ago, only to find out it was really like ten..........or even more.
Sunday night it hit me big time at a Bon Jovi concert. For those of you not familiar with them (really?), they were a very popular rock band in the 80's. Long hair, spandex, and hugely popular rock anthems; I loved everything about them. Well they were back. The spandex was gone, as was the long hair, but the ability to bring an arena to their feet was still there. Their lead singer Jon Bon Jovi is 50 years old (he'll be 51 next week.) My first time seeing them was in 1989, when I was 14........ and he was 27. Let that sink in for a moment will you? Hearing their songs, and being able to sing along to some that I haven't heard in years, well it made me feel like he was still 27 and I was still.....??
Scratch that - no I don't feel 14, but I also don't feel the age that I am. I remember during that show in '89 that he mentioned his age, having just turned 27 that week. His exact words I believe were "man I am so old." My response to his statement was, "wow, you really are old."
Oh what a naive child I was.....what did I know about age, or anything for that matter? Not a whole lot. Let me just say that I hope to have half his energy and enthusiasm for life when I am 50. He
still had the stamina (no opening act and they played
for almost 3 hours), not to mention the polish of a seasoned performer.
There was something else that I noticed during the show though. Over the years that I have seen him perform he has always been "on." The shows were always amazing and he was a true performer. There was never a moment where he would falter in his performance, or his stage presence. Don't get me wrong - there is nothing wrong with that. If anything it was amazing to watch all four times I've seen them. But Sunday night there was something just a little bit different. Being that seasoned performer seemed to have given him a little something else; an awareness that at some point age will finally catch up to him, and what he was experiencing at that moment would all go away.
At one point the crowd took over the lead from him, belting the lyrics out, filling the arena. He stopped singing, taking a step back and taking it all in. The look on his face at that moment wasn't the normal smugness one might expect. Instead it was awe mixed with humbleness. I know what you're thinking; that he's a performer putting on a good show. That may be true, but honestly you have to be a pretty jaded person to not be overwhelmed from an entire arena singing your songs back to you.
In the end, after a number of encores, he still seemed reluctant to leave the stage and walk away. Instead he wandered, waving to different people and displaying a somewhat goofy grin. It appeared he was just absorbing the energy of the room. It seemed that he knew this could be the beginning of the their last tour and he wanted to take in as much of it as possible.I hope that I'm wrong in that. I hope he's still performing when he's 80 and that I'm there to watch it. But in the end we can't fight the passage of time. The most we can do is to take in as much of life as possible while we're here. Sometimes you need to step back and let yourself be amazed by it all. In the end be gracious and thankful for all that you've been given and just.........enjoy the ride.