Ladies and gentlebeings, 1983 was an… interesting year. The world saw the premieres of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and the third Star Wars film, “Return of the Jedi.”
The United States invaded Grenada, sent the first American woman in space with Sally Ride aboard Space Shuttle Challenger and – possibly inspired by the aforementioned Star Wars film – introduced the world to the Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI, designed to protect the US of A by constructing a giant spherical space station called the “Deth Starr.”
It was a time of arrivals – McDonald’s introduced the McNugget, utterly destroying the nascent culinary tastes of children everywhere – and of departures – the shutdown of the DeLorean motor company, setting back time-machine production several decades.
Popped collars were all the rage, parachute pants large enough to hide a heard of buffalo appeared and women wore shoulder pads that made them look like middle linebackers.
Yes, it was an interesting time, but for me, one of the most significant moments of 1983 – aside from the launching of the very first “Hooter’s” restaurant in Florida, a transformative event that I memorialize every year with a heavy dose of nausea – was the release of a song by a band called Huey Lewis and the News. The song is called “Finally Found a Home,” and it’s found on their album, Sports.
Alas dear reader, I was but a babe in 1983*, just a dozen years out of the womb, and unsure of my place in the world. Little did I know that I would take many more runs around the sun before I would begin to discover exactly where I belonged.
Even at that gathering age, the lyrics of the song spoke to me. Without putting too fine a point on it, the crux of this magnum opus is that the hero of the song, (Huey Lewis) has been cajoled and bedevilled by well meaning folks inquiring as to what he wants to be when he grows up. It’s not explicitly stated, but one assumes they offered him the standard assortment of “stable” and “secure” career choices: doctor, lawyer, adult film star, etc. Our hero’s response however, is as telling as it is recalcitrant.
“It used to make me so fed up,
People always asking me,
What will you be when you grow up,
You’re gonna need security,
Spent a little time in school,
Wishing I was somewhere else,
Having fun and acting cool,
I just want to be myself!”
A ne’er-do-well, you may think. Just another lethargic layabout with no ambition! Well, perhaps dearest reader, but I admit, I took no such a jaundiced view when I first heard the song.
To me, the song didn’t speak to being lazy and unindustrious as much as it spoke to the need to find one’s path, the place where a person can truly be themselves in the fullest sense.
You see, we all have a happy place, a place where our hopes, dreams and abilities come together to create something magical, like a puzzle piece, finally discovering its assigned place in the great picture of life.
This “place” is not physical of course. It corresponds to no geographical location on this or any other planet. Those outer environments may offer support and a pleasant backdrop, but it’s not essential. Our place in the Great Machine of the Universe is set aside for us, just waiting until we’re ready to step into this awareness.
Of course, being the wonderfully messy and complicated beings that we are, we must… “tinker.” Modern society, puffed up by its own inflated sense of importance, tries to force us into other “assigned spaces,” ones that fit the needs and desires of society at large, with little-to-no regard for where our hearts know we belong.
So what’s the point of all this meandering you ask? What was the point of dragging you back trough the time tunnel to the days of jelly shoes, Cabbage Patch Kids and minivans?
The reason, my dear and long suffering reader, is that I have reached a milestone in my own travels through life. I believe that i may have finally, after so many years, discovered my place in the Great Machine of the Universe.
To return once again to the Huey Lewis song:
“It used to make me so fed up,
People always asking me,
What are you now that you’ve grown up?
Exactly what I want to be!”
In the song, our hero searches for his “home,” the place where his spirit is truly alive. For him, it turns out that his home is found in a song, through the medium of music. I once thought that myself, but it turned out to be merely a stepping stone to my true home, my happy place.
My home is here, within the esoteric dance of the written word.
Hardly a surprise you might think, I AM a writer after all. Steady on friends. It’s not as easy a conclusion as all that.
In the same way that “Doctor” can mean:
- General practitioner
- Time-travelling alien with two hearts and a penchant for sonic screwdrivers
“Writer” has a million and one permutations as well. Discovering mine took many years and many tears, but I believe that I have, truly come home.
I belong, not in the staccato, rat-a-tat-tat of social media, not in the punchiness and immediacy of jingles, headlines and other such marketing malarkey, but here, in what is boringly called “long-form” writing. In this place, I can luxuriate in the effusion of words, play with subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs (Sorry Stephen King, but you are mistaken, adverbs have an honoured place at my table).
Here is where my heart sings, and where my creativity can run free.
You my dear reader, have a happy place as well. Perhaps you’ve discovered yours, and if so I congratulate you. However, if, like so many human-shaped humans, you have not yet found your place, I can offer this one piece of advice:
Listen to yourself. Not the chattering nonsense of your conscious mind, but the little voice that whispers in the dark. You know which one I mean. The one that fuels your daydreams. It’s showing you exactly where you need to be, if you’re willing to listen.
I’ll leave you with a last line from the song, an exclamation of joy and passion that’s difficult to describe – and only discernible to those searching for their own path, and those who are truly open to finding it:
“If you want me I’ll be here…”
*Note: I’m still a “babe” now, but it a decidedly different way than I was then. Modesty prevents me from elucidating further, so I leave it to you dear reader, to make the distinction. Carry on.