Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Bootleg Years

Living in Amsterdam. 1970

Bootleg: an illegal copy of a video, CD, etc., or an illegal recording of a live performance.

Perhaps that’s what I’m trying to do. Understand those past experiences that defined my life…up until this point. It would seem I’ve entered my bootleg years.

In my lost years, I examined and reflected upon that period between high school graduation on May 3rd, 1961 and my marriage on May 31st, 1971. But further reflection of those ten years has left me with a parcel of unanswered questions. It’s much like discovering Ancestry.com and hidden family tracks buried beneath the sands of time. There seem to be a multitude of clues waiting to be unearthed and examined.

Living in Denmark.  1967

Visiting Apple Records.  London 1970

But as interesting as rehashing the past might be, a larger question remains. What do
those past experiences have to do with my present life? What do the tumultuous changes and excitement of the 60’s have to do with my present state of mind? And more importantly, why does it seem to matter so much to me now?

I’ve come to realize and appreciate that those were my bootleg years. Unbeknownst to me I was absorbing, collecting, inhaling and assimilating many of the thoughts and icons, values and virtues, assumptions and goals, ideas and ideals of that period. It became my cloak of many colors that I ended up wearing throughout my life.

But why reflect back on that period now?

My Cretin Classmates.  2011

For one thing, people are dying all around me. Classmates have left our classroom of life. Neighbors have gotten old and frail then disappeared into that large brick building downtown. Others in the prime of their life have suddenly gotten the big C.

But more than the threat of the grim reaper haunting my doorstep is the stark fact that I can’t redo what’s been done…even if I wanted to. I can’t start over again…in most things. I’ve passed through multiple stages in my life.

So how did those ten years mold me into the person I am today? And as importantly, can I allow my head to wander the clouds and still keep my feet firmly planted on the ground as I begun this collective retrospective of my time on earth? Can I do this introspection of mine without bias, apologies or regrets?

Exploring one’s past is like scratching poetry on the beach before the waves of time obliterate those thoughts and ideas. I want to peel back the truth as I know it because it is organic and free of vice. It is pure.

I also refuse to play the mind game: ‘But if not for’…

Our Family 2015

This is it then. It’s all here in this cornucopia of lives and people, places and things that I have lived and experienced, loved and lost, found and lost again, gained and lost again, failed and succeeded.

Now almost organically I am harvesting that lifetime of memories. A plethora of experiences and past moments that offer a brief glimpse into a life lost in the fog of time and a fading memory.

It’s a glimpse at my own legacy and others who have passed before me.

It’s future dates I won’t see.

And who will read my eulogy.

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