Forward Motion…

Posted: May 25, 2010 in Reel Life
Tags: , , , , , ,

On a recent night when sleep was eluding me I found myself surfing through the ridiculous number of channels that I get on my satellite TV. And somewhere up in the 1200’s I came across a broadcast of an Indie concert featuring a club show put on by James McKenty and the Spades. I had never heard of them but within seconds my finger stopped clicking and for the next hour I sat mesmerized as James and the Spades tore a new hole in the roof of whatever club that was. Putting out an impossibly full sound for a 3-piece band (a la The Who, U2), these guys just rocked out and I loved every minute of it.

The other standout was the audience. Mostly comprised of impossibly young 20-somethings, these kids danced and jumped and shouted and generally tore the place up. After you got past the music and the devotion of the audience what you were left with was the energy. You could feel it coming off the screen in waves. James would summon a holy ball of rock energy, serve it out into the audience and then wait for them to dutifully send it back to him – which they did, amplified in spades (!). Wow.

As I watched, I started to drift back in time to my 20’s when I was a fixture anywhere that great live music could be found. I used to go to clubs all the time to hear new bands. I would scour indie radio for the latest and was always up for discovering, and then following, any new band that proved worthwhile. God, I loved doing that. I can still remember the feeling I used to get as I would get lost in the music, as I became a willing partner in the very same kind of energy exchange that James was indulging in.

And I became very good at scouting out new and upcoming talent. I can remember buying tickets to go see UFO at Massey Hall in the late 70’s – but not because I had any desire to see UFO (which I didn’t). No, I was there strictly for the opening act which I had discovered some months before. They were a relatively unheard of hard rock band from Australia and they were called AC/DC. As the opening act. At Massey Hall.

I sure wouldn’t have wanted to have been UFO that night as they were completely eclipsed by Bon and Angus and the boys as they pumped out one decibel buster after another. To this day I think the roof at Massey is a few inches higher than it was before that night. I never saw UFO. There just didn’t seem to be any point. And besides, I had tickets for Cheap Trick who was playing Maple Leaf Gardens the same night. After AC/DC my friend and I jumped into a cab and tore up to Carlton St. for part 2 of our rocked out night.

As the years went by those club shows gave way to bigger venues. Clubs begat arenas which begat stadiums and so on. And of course, the bigger the venue, the more dissipated the energy and when the energy ebbed, so did my connection to it. I suppose it was a sort of natural evolution but it didn’t have to be that way.

There’s no question that as I’ve gotten older I’ve also slowed down somewhat. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As a more mature adult I recognize that there’s a real benefit to a slower approach. You notice more, savour more, appreciate more and generally have a more connected experience. But watching those kids rock out to James and his Spades brought back the visceralness of those experiences. In a small, sweaty, smelly club you weren’t there to listen to the music, you were there to have an experience. A full body, Vulcan mind-meld, neo-spiritual experience. Whew. Heady stuff.

In the past few years I’ve gone through several periods where I felt stuck in one place. I knew what I wanted to do but for the life of me couldn’t seem to summon up the will or the energy to make it happen. Getting stuck isn’t a lot of fun because as you sit there, trying to summon up the pluck to move forward, you can feel the momentum draining out of your body as you struggle to make a move forward.

Stuck. Struggle and stuck.

Momentum’s a funny thing. It can be hard to create but once unleashed it can be hard to rein in. I have been thinking of times in my life where I had significant momentum and the pace of my achievements during those periods were breathless. So where does momentum go to die? What happens when inertia decides to pack it in?

For the most part I’ve really enjoyed getting older. Life is a lot less work these days and for that I’m very grateful. James, his Spades and his audience were still in their early 20’s and they had that momentum 100 times over and it was exhilarating to watch them, being young, being angry, being ready to live their whole lives, still in front of them. They’re not stuck, they’re alive in the fullest sense of the word.

I wouldn’t trade my current age for a younger one – not a chance. But I wouldn’t mind regaining some of that momentum I used to have. When did coasting become the status quos?

The one exception to this slightly flaccid state of affairs occurs when I spend time with my 10 year-old daughter, Hyla. Hyla is the antithesis of my slower pace. She never stops, never tires and has so much momentum that sometimes it spills over into her life and makes a big puddle on the floor. When I’m with her my own speed shifts up a few notches – just by osmosis. It can be tiring but it can also be rejuvenating and during those times I find myself feeding off of Hyla’s energy like a hungry vampire.

James, the Spades, and the audience really got my attention that night because they took me back to an earlier, different reality. It was a time when the whole world was in front of us and the rules just didn’t seem to apply. Heady stuff, that.

I recorded the entire concert that night and plan on watching it again. Who knows? Maybe some of that inertia will rub off on me and lift me onto higher ground. I don’t need to go all out anymore but I also don’t need to be completely stopped, either.

I miss that momentum, the rush of the feeling that anything was possible and that it was all there just for the taking. And as I move forward I’m going to try to add a little momentum every day because it’s just so damn zesty! Just ask any shark – if they stop moving forward they drown and I’m not up for being any one’s dead shark.

Today I will seize the moment, I will watch Hyla and think of James and then I will dig deep down inside to summon up that spark for a return engagement. Don’t go quietly into that good night. Stand up. Shout out. Dance and dare to dream. You don’t have to go fast all the time but complacency is surely the devil’s tool. And in those moments when stuck seems like it’s all you can do, dig deeper, because it’s in there and it’s yours for the asking. And there’s no time like right now…



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