I’m still really swamped at work so I’m going to continue being relatively scarce on blogger for the next couple of weeks. Just a quick thought today on Aging and Raging. I was listening to Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” yesterday. The opening line is: “I stand up next to a mountain. And I chop it down with the edge of my hand.”
Jimi was young when he did this song, of course, and young when he died. I remember hearing “Voodoo Child” when I was young, and feeling the power flow through me. I felt the same way, felt like I could challenge a mountain and whip it, felt like I could take the scraps of that mountain and build an island, as Jimi sang. I remember one day, at sixteen, I’m barreling down a rough back road on the dirt bike I had at the time. I’m pushing the motorcycle as hard as I can, and the speed, and my youth are making me feel invulnerable. I take both hands off the handle bars, lift them high and give the world a big “F You.”
Good thing the world didn’t toss a rut in my way at just that moment. I might have experienced road rash a long time before I actually did. Or worse. I don’t know about you, but I remember feeling invincible as a teenager. You stand up in the storm and the thunder rolls over your head and the lightning strikes the ground around you, and you feel your heart running like a wild horse, and you know nothing can bring you down.
I remember in my twenties reading Dylan Thomas’s:
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Those words ignited in me. I had no doubt that I’d do exactly that. By then, perhaps, I could imagine being taken down by a force bigger than myself. But I still knew I’d go down fighting.
It’s a long way from twenty-five to fifty-three. One by one my sureties are fading. Most of the time, my raging seems to have changed to aging. I like to think its wisdom and, if so, it took it long enough to work through my thick skull. But like I said, the sureties are fading. I’m not so sure it’s not just fear.
Still a great song, though! Have a listen! Voodoo Child.
Still a great poem! Have a look: Dylan Thomas.