My eldest brother Ted is the kindest soul that has ever walked this earth. He would literally give the shirt off his back for friend or family. Once upon a time he defied all given logic, beating a disability and his undersized genes to slay a giant. He became a U.D.T. Frog in the sixties. The legends of the training from that era are often told to recruits of the new era. It was the toughest, and most glorious six year period of his life. As a result he compares everything that he is going through to his time in the "Teams". It is an old family jest that Ted can take a discussion about a sandwich and get going about the U.D.T. days.
I have become more like him than I like to admit. My short tenure as a band manager was by far the toughest thing I ever tried to do. Mentally and physically exhausting every skill I ever acquired as a salesman, musician, person.... everything. It took all my effort to get through a day, and when I thought I had seen it all, the next day made the previous, a joke. The problem with these type of experiences is, that while going through them you never have the luxury of enjoying the view. To do so would take your eye off the target, and peril would be eminent. It is not until the battle ends that any real perspective can be gained. You must gather with others that were there, and tell the stories like Nam vets, at a therapy group, because hardly anyone else can bear to listen. My wife has been touching me on the arm for the last three years, to let me know it's time for the conversation be normal, and not about "the time the band was on Carson Daily" or whatever story de' jour might be. Like my Bro, I can connect the thread, from any conversation back to times of fury and heroics.
What do you do when you reach a peak and nothing but valleys lay ahead? Valleys are good and peaceful, the weather is nice. It is a stable place to live. It is the easy place, where the good life occurs. I still feel compelled every so often, to slip the on ring, become invisible in my parlor, and remember the dragons breath. I try to channel the energy into my latest attempt to return to cycling form, and my flashbacks are getting dimmer by the day, but the reminders are everywhere. People remember the tragedy of 911 as a news clip, I remember flying by the smoke on our way to showcase for Roadrunner Records, gripping the arms of our chairs, white knuckled and silent. I hold my hands around the candle. I try to shut out the wind. The white noise grows and the names are all but gone from the wall they were sprayed upon, so many years ago. Like it or not all our footprints get washed away. It makes the gray paint on my cement block office walls a shade or two darker. It gets harder as the years plod on, to push the rock uphill.
Now the thrills I get come at the hands of my sons exploits. #1 on the blocks at his first swim meet, bringing home an "A" in trig, or Lil W.B. nailing a vibe part in marching band, or killing a Muse song in the garage with his band. I feel the warmth of my blessings. I thank the universe for allowing me to ride, and have a family. I have so much more than I deserve. I just wonder if the wizard will ever come back.
Hey, did I ever tell you about the time.......