Tag Archives: fireworks

When the Music Matters

It’s no coincidence. We feel a stronger allegiance to the music that provided the soundtrack to our teenage lives than to any period of melodic exposure arriving before or after the very specific ages of 13-15. Firsts are firsts, and there’s nothing quite like the initial unwrapping. Memories are locked, markers are stamped, and we will summon those songs for the rest of our days.

As an audiophile, these neuro-fireworks may have exploded with a bit more impact for me than the average bear. But when those headphones hit my ears, wholly unfamiliar pathways opened, and a burst of color detonated behind my eyes when that perfect marriage of lyrics and harmonies flooded my brain. It was an indescribable introduction to a lifelong romance and endless quest to rediscover that unlit fuse. To feel all your senses simultaneously awakened with the abrupt urgency of a shotgun blast in a hibernating bear cave is both overwhelming and invigorating.

Why does everyone wax poetic about the bands and artists that shaped their developing years? It’s not nostalgia. It’s chemical. These songs occupy a very special spot in the psyche, and we will be left defending their merits for the rest of our lives. The music is inextricably attached to adolescence, and the weight of the world sits on teenage shoulders.

Coming of age in the 90s provided a limitless roster of musicians who planted their flags in the hearts and minds of a generation stuck between two very disparate worlds in the pre- and post-technological revolution. But talk to anyone who drops their eggs in baskets of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc., and you’ll most likely hear a similar story. We know what we know and we love what we love.

No single experience will ever equal the rush of adrenaline that shot through my bloodstream the first time the first line of “August and Everything After” sent its perfectly crafted message down my ear canal…and night drives spent listening to a complete catalog Counting Crows shuffle still hits me in the soft stuff.

If that’s not chemical, what is it?

Adolescence Interrupted

Tiny Victories


Waiting with fingers crossed for some giant sweeping, exhilarating event to alter the trajectory of your path is the emotional equivalent of tossing dimes in a fountain and banking on fortuitous returns. Life’s most satisfying moments come less from a sky illuminated by grand finales and more from the snappy pop of firecrackers on a spark-strewn ┬ápiece of lawn. We gain the most momentum from measured achievement on a carefully plotted timeline, not random rocket rides promising shortcuts to success.

Of course, there are always exceptions. But rolling the dice on a long shot can leave you questioning how all those eggs landed in the same basket. Options have to be more than backup plans and worst-case scenarios. The parachute should be a part of the preparation, as opposed to a quick-grab lifesaving impulse, or you’ll be left standing at the cargo doors, holding the ripcord, and wondering how it all went wrong.

I have been lucky enough lately to celebrate a series of small wins. While no individual event or achievement promises the attainment of endgame goals, the building blocks are finally stacking to form a tower. With better perspective and a less impeded view, I can plot the actions necessary for extended travel down this often rocky road. Small steps, not giant strides. But without a certain degree of fight, the finish line will continue to blend into the distant horizon. Even the best intentions can get lost on a treadmill to nowhere.

So a healthy heap of focus is on the menu, and eliminating distractions is a crucial piece of that winning formula. I’ll suck in the sweet oxygen of life’s little gifts while keeping diligent attention on the next chapter of a constantly unfolding story. Variables are responsible for the biggest letdowns and the biggest rewards.

But it pains me to admit that sometimes it feels like the finish line is also running the race.

Adolescence Interrupted