Lifetime Ago 5/23/23

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

“Pow, right between the eyes, oh how nature loves her little surprises.  Wow, it all seems so logical now, it’s just one of her better disguises.”  The song is “Life of Illusion”, but Joe Walsh, released in 1981.  It was my senior year in high school, and one of those songs that burrowed into the depths of my mind.  I have no idea why, but periodically, and without even hearing it, I find myself singing it when I’m naked and wet.  Or in the shower, as the case may be.

On my social media page, I periodically post what I call “Pop Quiz”.  I put a line or two from a song to see if anybody can comment with the next line.  This one was “Pow, right between the eyes…”  I had a couple of guesses, including a mention of the old television show “The Honeymooners” where they joked about wife beating with the line, “One of these days, POW, right to the moon”.  I never did like that show.  If I wanted to see a bunch of screaming and arguing I would have just spent more time with my parents. 

My friend, who is less than a year younger than I, is the one who guessed The Honeymooners.  We were chatting a bit when I finally told her what the song was, and she was relieved to have the answer.  When I told her it was from the ‘80’s, she responded, “that was a lifetime ago, wasn’t it?” 

Pow, right between the eyes.

It’s all subjective.  It doesn’t feel like a lifetime ago to me, but it does predate all of her children who are now parents as well.  For her children, then, it would be pre-history, but to me it feels like yesterday.  But what a shock to realize that, yes, it was a lifetime ago.  I was a punk just starting my educational pathway and was a very different person than I am today.  Forty years of growth and experience will change a person, so yes, I guess it was a lifetime ago.  But I wouldn’t change it, either.

A younger friend of mine is today where I was when this song was released.  She has decided that she wants to pursue either chemistry or chemical engineering as a career, and in just another few months will be going to college.  I’m very proud of her as she has secured for herself a full-ride academic scholarship to launch her future and independence. 

I’m excited for the future ahead of her.  No doubt, it will have its bumpy roads.  My friend’s daughter struggled in college, never feeling as if she “belonged”.  She didn’t have many friends and had a terrible romantic history, but I suspect it all had to do with her level of maturity and intelligence.  Her fellow classmates were partying and focusing on their social lives as she studied and, her mother tells me, never drank.  It’s difficult to be an intelligent woman more interested in academics than partying and drinking, but I predicted that, indeed, once she graduates, she’ll find her friends.  Today, she is happily married and a spaghetti sauce, that is to say, “Prego”.  I’m so glad that she found her path and seems to be well on her way.  My younger friend who just graduated, if I were to make a prediction, will also struggle to find her people in college.  But, on the other hand, I’m so excited for where she goes.  I have no doubt that she has a wonderful adventurous life ahead of her, filled with successes, even if it takes a little time to find it.

Someday, both of these young ladies will be where I am today.  They’ll suddenly have forty years of pavement under their wheels and will look back at the songs that they had “a lifetime ago”, songs that will still hold special meaning for them, songs that people will laugh at them about.

And yet, I hope that laughter doesn’t squelch their enthusiasm and joy for days gone by.  They’ll forget the times they struggled and remember the joys of youth.  Unlike me, however, I’m sure they’ll both be surrounded by family and loved ones, with family and friends to keep their lives happy, full and joyous.  I guess that, in the end, it’s other people that make life worth living.  Even my successes from my career are based on the students and people with whom I’ve worked.  I wish all of my friends and loved ones the happiest of memories surrounded by love and people who bring light to their lives. 

But now, I’m going to take off my clothes and sing some Joe Walsh.


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