I wonder if I am losing the capacity for wonder? I know, the question appears to answer itself.
Life often presents as one massive scavenger hunt for achievements, experiences, knowledge, possessions, and relationships, but I am pretty sure that’s a fool’s game that pays out in colorful erasers at a Chuck E. Cheese. Even if there is a grand prize for the most tickets, I get the impression that when all is said and done those cashing in aren’t that interested.
The problem is that the Life Acquisition Train disembarks in a lonely neighborhood without many obvious options for alternative travel. But at least wandering the streets provides some quality time to think.
My latest thought is that childhood is for dreaming and adulthood is for chasing, but there just may be a mysterious third act of life for something else. I’m not there just yet, but chasing grows less and less interesting all the time. And I hear the third act calling.
Maybe the third act is meant to point back to the first and recover that childlike imagination but with a new perspective? Maybe. So far I just can’t be sure. But I know that I want to find it.
I sometimes worry that I am losing my capacity for wonder, but on good days I consider that maybe I am just finally shedding the first kind.
Yet I don’t want to give up on the one without locating the other, so I keep walking the nameless streets with Bono in my head because there remains an elusive something to look for.
The Teragram Ballroom is an intimate concert venue a little off the beaten path in downtown Los Angeles that holds around six hundred people. My wife and I tracked it down Thursday night to see Princess, a Prince cover band, since my wife is a huge Prince fan (and since our friend, Karl, told me about the concert just in time for Mother’s Day shopping).
We arrived early, partly because that is a sickness of mine and partly to combat the oppressive Los Angeles traffic. We entered the venue ninety minutes before showtime only to discover that there is no seating in the Teragram Ballroom, so we found a spot at the edge of the stage and began our standing marathon.
It was worth it. It was such a fun show. Princess consists of Maya Rudolph of Saturday Night Live fame and Gretchen Lieberum, a singer-songwriter college friend of hers, so it was part great music and part hilarious. That Rudolph’s fellow SNL actor, Fred Armisen, unexpectedly was part of the band made it even better.
I don’t go to many concerts but happened to attend a couple lately and both were trips down memory lane. Both U2 and Prince music apparently produce large class reunions from the 1980s. I did not see kiosks for treating baldness, midlife crises, or fading eyesight at either concert, but those seem like missed opportunities.
What I did see were people reconnecting with thoughts and emotions from over thirty years ago that were important early chapters in what has now become life stories. I was not immune. I surely did not know what I was looking for in high school, but reconnecting with that U2 song made me consider how I have handled the journey in the intervening years. And I didn’t really go crazy in high school, but reconnecting with that Prince song made me reflect on whether I have made good use of this fleeting life since I first sang that fleeting life anthem along with him in 1984.
It was fitting that Maya Rudolph and her college buddy were on stage Thursday night. They are us, the children of the 1980s, and we are all together at this interesting stage of life. In this time of life reflection, it is a general rule that regrets and disappointment show up to say hello. So if I can call for one more class meeting, I simply have one question for my fellow students: Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
I choose to punch a higher floor and start looking up.
Posted in Original Essays
Tagged 1980s, concerts, eighties, fred armisen, gretchen lieberum, i still haven't found what I'm looking for, let's go crazy, los angeles, maya rudolph, memories, music, prince, princess, snl, teragram ballroom, u2
My wife and I attended the U2 concert at the Rose Bowl last Saturday evening. We arrived early to beat the crowd and got a little turned around which, appropriately, sent us down a street that had no name. Thankfully, with an assist from the Waze app, we did eventually find the parking lot that we were looking for (which was good because my wife was going to get there with or without me). Thank you. I’m here all week.
How to describe the concert? Well, “predictably amazing” is a contradiction in terms, but that is it. The hard, powerful music. The massive stadium crowd singing in unison at full voice. The shared high school memories with thousands of my newest and similarly-aged (and aging) friends. The truly spectacular visual technology. The pleas for social justice. And Bono stalking the stage as a pastor directing the liturgy.
It was quite the experience.
But the unexpected arrived in Section 17 near the end of the Lumineers’ opening set. Earlier, my wife, who may be the most observant human being on Planet Earth, noticed a gentleman wearing a flannel shirt and sporting a beanie casually walking along the stadium walkway below us. Like thousands of others. Except that he looked exactly like The Edge.
Well, that was weird, but maybe it wasn’t so ridiculous at a U2 concert, and the dude didn’t seem to attract any attention. But some time later we noticed a commotion about twenty rows behind us, and it was THAT GUY with about a zillion people trying to take a picture with him. It’s him! No, it isn’t. Yes, it is! Is it? My logical self concluded that it could not be The Edge since it was near the end of the Lumineers’ set; however, since there turned out to be enough time between the opening act and the main event to grow vegetables, my logic fell apart. No one officially settled the debate, but my wife is convinced that it had to be him. Look at the picture and decide for yourself.
Either way, how cool is it for someone who tens of thousands of people paid small fortunes in time and money to see in action to just go out with a drink and wander around the crowd? On the other hand, how weird is it that tens of thousands of people pay small fortunes in time and money to see someone and not know for sure if that person actually sat down next to them?
It is easy to think that you know someone from afar. It is far more difficult to be sure up close and in person.
We humans surely move in mysterious ways.