Home > Uncategorized > ….in our youth our hearts were touched with fire

….in our youth our hearts were touched with fire

September 29, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m getting old. Saturday night and me and the wife shared a pizza at a place filled with burping teenagers saying “dude” over and over again. We were home by 8:30. After checking in on some college scores, I curled up in bed with a new one volume history of Gettysburg, and was asleep before the late news started.

The worst part was that I enjoyed myself immensely. That’s the part that makes me feel old.

Pete Townshend wrote the lines “hope I die before I get old” when he was 20. These days he’s pushing 70, as rich as Croesus, with a much younger girl at his side, and musically is revered like few others. He may have meant it then, but I suspect he’s sorta glad things worked out differently.

Townshend’s music has probably saved my life about 86 times. For me music is not simply life-affirming. In my teens I could listen to records like “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”…..both incoherent narratives, and they made sense. Townshend was writing these things specifically to fit into my head.

I never felt like I knew him. I felt like he knew me.

It was always that kind of relationship.

We’ve both grown old together….and honestly it’s not so bad.

Sure things hurt that didn’t used to hurt. Sure things that used to be black or brown are now grey. We need glasses now. And our ears ain’t so good. (Lucky all we need to do there is turn up the volume. One thing that cannot be compromised is volume.) We’ve added a few pounds. Crow’s feet. We embraced technology…..and now we’re kinda back-tracking. I like the feel of a legal pad and pen more than a keyboard again.

But it doesn’t take as much anymore. The feeling of crisp fall air……or the explosion of fall colors….these things can literally turn a bad day into a good one. Sitting on my front porch when the night is quiet. Tinkering on an acoustic guitar. My dog curled up next to me on the couch. My cat sitting over my left shoulder. My wife catching me looking at her the way I used to look at her. Knowing the kids are tucked in and safe. A close game on TV. A cold drink. Breaking Bad on Netflix, A great book.

In 1884 Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote “in our youth our hearts were touched with fire”. Ollie spoke the truth. We needed that stimulation. We needed that urging, The concept of growing old when we were 20 was bizarre. I worshiped my father, but I could never imagine being like him. It’s this mind set that allowed Townshend to write “My Generation” and mean it. And for me to hear it say, “yea, me too”.

But those days are gone. I’m still not comparable to my father. He was a much better man than I’ll ever be. But I’d like nothing better than to keep trying. And that’s going to take time. And that’s going to mean getting even older.

So then onward. There is much to do. There is time to be savored. I don’t want my heart touched with fire anymore. Perhaps simply kept warm. I want more early nights. More stolen glances. More music. More legal pads and more pens.

I hope to grow old before I die. With Pete.

In a bit…


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. jimbob
    September 30, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Quit your bitch’n and nut up, Townsend is old news, Angry Johnny is the man. I try to stay up as late as possible, even week nights, don’t want to miss anything. When they come to take you down, GO DOWN SWINGING. I wonder where I want to go on vacation this year?

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