On the impermanence, and importance, of things

This is one of those infinitely digressive posts.

I refrained from using a metaphor about the induction of Guns ‘n’ Roses into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an avenue for exploring Patanjali’s Sutra 1.9 in class this morning.

But, of course, I mentioned that I had thought about it–because I think people should laugh in yoga class, and think in yoga class and connect with one another in yoga class, because hell, you’re going to have to try and do all of those things at the same time under even more stressful conditions outside of yoga class–which led someone to ask, as we were heading into the home stretch of the practice, how, exactly I had intended to do that?

(The answer is: they created two albums titled Use Your Illusion and then spent more than 15 years working on an album that was perpetually on the cusp of coming out. If I thought Axl Rose was more clever, I would assume that, in fact, this was all an elaborate joke/commentary. As it is, it is a perfect example of how we can convince ourselves of the truth of things that are manifestly unreal.)

(Incidentally, given the rumors of favoritism-verging-on-corruption that always surround the choice of artists to induct, why on earth did they choose G’N’R? They produced maybe one and a half albums of good material 20-odd years ago, were a profound influence on no one of any consequence that I’m aware of, and they were guaranteed to have a contentious appearance if indeed they all showed. Or perhaps I just answered my own question with that last bit. Nothing to drum up interest like controversy.)

Anyway, as I was answering, I flashed on the very first time I saw the video for Welcome to the Jungle. Strangely enough, I can give you an exact date: November 14th, 1987. I can do this because, well, the Internet knows everything, including the date and even the set list of the show KISS played in Pensacola that night.

I was at that show. I’m not proud of it, but there it is.

(I have also seen Ratt, Poison and probably something else embarrassing that I’m forgetting. Oh, well)

And then I remembered that I went to the concert with a guy named Sam. I remember crashing at his house that night after the concert, and seeing Welcome to the Jungle and thinking that just perhaps this band was actually evil. How terribly young and naive I was–I didn’t realize that the only person in hard rock who might have been as evil as he sounded was Bon Scott.

I have no way to find out his last name, at least not easily. I didn’t get a yearbook, as I was only in the school for one year, and never expected to see any of these people again, really. In fact, I didn’t get a yearbook for any year I was in High School. I wanted nothing more than to get that period of my life behind me.

But I did buy a mug. It had the names, admittedly in fairly small print, of the 80-ish people I graduated with. So I might have looked through the list (assuming Sam graduated–I’m not 100% certain that he did) and found a name and looked him up on Facebook, so on and so forth. Stranger things have happened.

But alas, that was not to be. That mug took a dive in…hmmm, I’m gonna have to guess here and say ’91. I do know that it got taken out by Chet‘s girlfriend at the time, Cassie. I remember this because Cassie–who was a very nice person–was very contrite and got me another mug to replace it, a handmade one from somewhere near where her parents lived, though I don’t actually remember where that was.

And that was the mug I drank out of for a number of years.

Until it, too, bit the dust. Probably in Miami, maybe some time around ’98, though it is possible it made it with us to North Carolina before meeting an untimely end. I’m fairly certain that it didn’t see this millennium, though I don’t remember for sure.

This time it was Anne who done the deed. But she, too, was quite contrite, and got me a mug that I still have today. Dark, dark blue, heavy and big—the defining quality of all three mugs being that they were quite large.

I’m a big believer in not getting attached to things–they get broken, they get lost, you give them away to the people who can use them better, you dispose of them to make more room, whatever; usually feel better after the occasional purge. It’s always just stuff–I don’t want to be the narrator in Fight Club, thinking I’ve got it solved because I’ve finally got that coffee table and couch issue squared away.

At the same time, though, I believe fiercely in working to remember where they came from, and how they’re bind you not by their thing-ness, but by the story of how they came to you, and the people who gave them to you, and everything else they might have given you. I hadn’t thought about Cassie in probably a decade, since Chet told me of running into her once by accident. I hadn’t thought about Sam in probably 20 years. I hadn’t thought about the mugs, and how they came into my life.

On the one hand, my experience of this is fairly profound. But from the outside, and even to an extent from the inside, this is terribly, spectacularly mundane stuff.

It’s hardly coincidence…

that as my grandfather was dying, I was probably talking about him–my dad had mentioned that he stopped eating at the beginning of the week, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know it would be soon.

Still, for class yesterday, I had had a notion to talk about something else, and gotten it all planned out in my head, and when I sat down that all pretty much went out the window, and I really ended up talking about my relationship with my grandfather.

Well, not directly, because that would have been boring as shit for everyone in the room–but as I talked about the way that we each have the opportunity to form the narrative of our own lives, I was thinking about all the choices I’ve made, and I’ve seen how a lot of the ones I’ve made recently–the more conscious, considered ones–have been made out of a desire to be warmer and more open and more fluid, none of which are what are attributes immediately called to mind when I think of my grandfather.

Which is not to suggest that I don’t love him, but I was always intimidated by his presence when I was younger, and by the time I was old enough that I could have gotten past that, well, it was too late.

I do envy my sister’s kids a little, though–they are all having a great opportunity to have close, long-standing relationships with their grandparents, and I think they will value that immensely as they grow older.