The Joys of Delusion

At Mama’s. I had a surprise early weekend. I delivered Thursday in Kinston, North Carolina, and was afraid the company would send me into the NorthEast. But instead they gave me a load that picked up in Dillon, South Carolina and delivers Monday morning in Springfield, Illinois. So my weekend is Friday and Saturday this week.
I resisted the urge to get a hotel room. Mama is really struggling with this whole Christmas thing, so I figured I should stay close. I don’t blame her for having issues. This is the first Christmas in twenty five years that isn’t going to be spent at the house. It’s stressful for both of us. Sometimes I get so bogged down with my own self-pity that I forget that all these changes are hard on Mama, too.
Chris and Lynn came by tonight. They had come to see Sherry (my aunt, who lives in the next apartment from Mama) and stopped by before they left. It was nice to talk to Chris. There’s been some kind of tension between us for years, and I haven’t really felt like I could talk to him. Tonight he was just like the old Chris.
He showed me a web site for the band of a mutual old friend. A guy I started out playing music with (because neither of us were good enough to play with “real” bands). I’m not naming names because I don’t want to offend anybody. The music wasn’t bad. But they had a video that was just… sad.
My old friend is older than me. And he looks every bit his age, and more. He was on-stage, still wearing the duster that has been part of his uniform for ages. Still has the long hair. Well, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But he was standing up there doing a few half-hearted rock star moves, and it didn’t seem to me like even he was buying it.
It just struck me as sad that someone could spend so much of their life searching for any small scrap of adulation. To still be aching for it at his age, standing on-stage and looking like some bored old guy, knowing in your heart that your time has long since came and gone, but not knowing how to be anything else, is just profoundly … sad.
I admit. I saw a little too much of myself in that performance. The tired old fart who can’t let go of a dream. But I comfort myself with the belief that for me it’s always been about the music. One of the reasons I stopped playing in bands was that I only seemed to be able to find people who were interested only in adulation and the promise of fame and fortune.
I just thought of a line from one of my old songs. “I’m not here to entertain you.” If nothing else, I prefer to believe that I’ve remained true to myself. And in the absence of any possibility of commercial success (I’m too old, too fat and too stubborn), at least I have a rather large catalog of decent to good songs to draw from (and maybe record next year). How heart-breaking it must be to stand up there on that stage and know that whatever genuine talent you had was squandered decades before and all you’ve done since is work hard to convince people that you are the guy on-stage in the duster, and not some old fart who works in a warehouse and lives in a trailer.
It’s uncomfortable for me to look at my old friend. I’m desperately afraid I’ll see myself reflected there. And I wonder sometimes if I, too, am wrapping myself in some tragic, delusional dream just to be able to get through each day.

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