I had my first midlife crisis when I was 28 years old. I was in a band on national tour when George W. Bush was re-elected POTUS. That election night, in a motel bed in Arizona wearing nothing but boxers & a bottle of rum, I commiserated w/ my not-yet wife over the phone while the rest of the group went to dinner. Music, touring, the band -- it all seemed trivial when the country was clearly going to hell. Before we came home, I canceled recording sessions for our next album, quit the band & decided to wade into politics. It felt like desperate times (oh, what would that younger me say now?!?).
The second midlife crisis was just a plain ole life crisis. A few years later, my health deteriorated steadily until I went into liver failure. My genetic disease was finally diagnosed & I began a battery of tests for liver replacement but luckily, the organ bounced back with treatment. That ordeal exposed me to the ridiculous mechanics of our healthcare system and the financial hardship, insecurity & anxiety that engulfs so many of us when we get sick. This experience & the need for health insurance ended my career in electoral politics & began my foray into finances.
And today, my current ill health coincides with MKDVB. Embarking on a life/career of music in middle-age is perhaps a textbook definition of mid-life crisis. After all, music is a phase most of us grow out of. Nowadays, music is the province of the young & corporations while "grown-ups" are too busy dealing with real life. I think this is one of the great understated tragedies of our time, which I hope to explore in future posts.
Ethereality arises out of this latest health scare, which forced me to quit baking as the Drunken Loaf. I've always known this was a beach song so even being ill, I wanted to record the song & shoot the video on the beach. I couldn't have done it without my dear friend, Sly Twombly (love you, Sly!). It wasn't until we got onto the sand at Bodega Bay that I realized Ethereality was specifically a Northern California beach song. People think California beaches are filled with surf, sun & lots of skin but that's Southern California. NorCal beaches aren't for beer commercials & partying -- they're for meditating & contemplating this life ... perhaps the next as well.
When I was younger, getting sick stripped away illusions of immortality & boiled life down to its true essence. But when you have a young child, that essence takes on a different, desperate meaning. My biggest fear is leaving him before he's reached adulthood and that trauma that might cause. Life is short so we have to make it count, for our families & for ourselves. With each health flare-up, I ask myself, "If this is the end, have I spent my time well?"
During the first health emergency in my political phase, the answer was a qualified yes. I loved working election campaigns but politics brought out the worst version of myself. Politics changes you more than you change the world. Financial reality closed that path anyway (electoral work being seasonal so no benefits/insurance).
The last time I was hospitalized, mired deep in stocks/investments in the quest for financial security, the answer wasn't quite regret but spending my days reading annual reports & chasing after money didn't seem a life well-spent.
With this current sick spell, I know this is my right path. I've gotten to know my son, to know my community through baking & to know myself through music. I can't have any regrets about any of it.
But as that wise sage of our times, Laurence Fishburne, once said, "There's a difference between knowing the path & walking the path." That's a topic for the next post!