4. Story

Knowing everything takes a toll on you I think. Now, when I say “on you” I mean to say “on one” as in the collective all of us individually as a one, or maybe “on you and I” is another way to say it. Knowing everything takes a toll on one, I think, or on you and I, I think. As one of a set of the collective one, I will give myself a little bit of credit that I was open to some ideas. If they were written in a song and I liked the song, I was open to that idea. If it were some piece of knowing that would lead me to some desired end (and I could see that end from what was presented) I was open to that idea. If it were some knowing from a friend or somebody I trusted had my best interest in mind (though they would never imply in suggesting the idea that I didn’t already know what was best for me) I was open to that idea. Bottom line…if I trusted you as a source I was open to that idea.

Music was very much one of my most trusted sources for understanding the way the world worked. This likely had something to do with a combination of being the youngest of four, having that stereo system in the dining room so off-limits, and my older brother saving up enough bread to buy his own stereo, and maybe a number of other things. By the time I was 7 or 8 or 9 the belief that music held some deeper truth than most other sources of information in the world was firmly embedded in my view of reality. I can’t firmly place the correct time frame but I can certainly remember that time for a few days, or a few weeks, or however long it was that my brother was singing that final stanza of Stairway to Heaven out loud, everywhere and always, whenever and wherever he went. He was having a jam in his head out loud and I was watching and soon it was becoming a part of me. I even remember that stereo in the dining room getting “tried out” a couple of times while the parents were away, you know, just to see what it could do.

In hindsight it may just be that music tied to lyrics was able to evoke that sense of really being alive from within my experience of the world. Whatever the case, and this is my point of bringing it to the fore, I placed a large degree of importance on music. So much so that I knew many songs and many lyrics and would use those songs and lyrics as a form of expressing my thoughts. Later it would be movie lines and quotes from movies that I could relate to, that brought out some part of “me”.

Cub Scout of the Year
A true expression of the entity I would call me?

These things were pervasive in my world and “when I look back now” (as Bryan Adams may have said) I’m not sure I was given many alternatives, really. I was born into this something…this culture…this reality…this “way of being in the world”. I picked some things that suited me – music and movies, and there may be other things that one or you and I may have been able to select to make sense of this world they were born into. For the most part though, I was given an opportunity set and I picked one or two of a very limited set of options.

I have discussed some of this already in other blog entries but I think it’s relevant to point out the times I recall wandering around, walking from one place to another, doing what I would call at the time “talking to myself in my head”. I was rehearsing conversations that I would have with these “bums” that I mentioned here if I were ever to be confronted by one of them again. I was rehearsing knowing things, knowing about things, that I could use to give them the right answer should they confront me with an innocuous question such as “What are you looking at?” or “Do you like Jim L.? Do you want to go beat him up?” For whatever reason, I thought that these random dudes that I would encounter on these tough Cleveland city streets (they really weren’t that tough where I was, maybe sort of tough, but not too tough – or maybe they were) would be overpowered by my knowledge of musical trivia. Bands, albums, lyrics, Rock & Roll man… Really weird. And hey, maybe you’re reading this and I haven’t spent enough time articulating it and you don’t quite get it, or maybe I did and you think man that’s really odd that an 8 year old kid would be walking from place to place in his neighborhood (say to get to a friends house, or to get to school) first of all talking to himself in his head and second of all talking to himself in his head about Rock trivia items, or which band was better than some other band and why and just to clarify I recall having that thought myself. I think I was afraid. And I protected myself by knowing so that I could out-know a hostile “other” being and this was my way of protecting “me”.

A really strange way to think about things, in hind sight. I got really good at remembering tidbits of information though, so I could outsmart one. A useful and sometimes lucrative skill to have, when it wasn’t busy concealing reality and getting in my way of seeing what there is to see.

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