I was born 30 years ago. On my birthday I think. I think about surviving one more year and what an accomplishment it is. The world is a place that forces one to be a boxer, bobbing, weaving, ducking, throwing punches and dodging punches and knowing when not to throw them. Also, not very often we are like Gandhi or Civil Rights activists. We absorb blows nonviolently. We let water hoses spray violent torrents of water all over us. We let dogs maul us. Sometimes the dogs lick us instead of maul us. Dogs and cats are wonderful.
I think about how I got here. I think about my Great Great Grandfather Jonas Maurer taking the boat from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore in 1903. I think about him working in the factories in Youngstown, Ohio and how every 10 years he changed his nationality on the census (Sometimes he was “Slav” sometimes he was “Polish.” Sometimes he was “Austrian,” sometimes he was “Czech” for good measure).
I think about growing up with a Deaf Mom and being her full time interpreter. I think about my parent’s hell of a divorce. I think about making the call to throw my Dad in jail when I was 16 years old. I think about using music to get out of a small town and travel the world. I think about music falling on its face and being forced into selling dental supplies to make a living.
I think about all of the girls I was with and the girls I hurt and the girls that hurt me. I think about my mother having the most love anyone could possibly have. I think about my grandmother running away from home at 15 and how she played semi-pro softball for the Yakima Apple Queens. I think about my brother Jamie and my sister Jenny and all of my wonderful friends around the world. I think about my girl and dog at home and how I can be a better person and make them happier.
I think about how I came to be. Yesterday I was feeling depressed and saw a bumper sticker. People in Los Angeles often express themselves through bumper stickers. The bumper sticker read: “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”
I thought about how I managed to stick around for 30 years.
Here’s to 30 more. I look forward to growing old and I’m so fortunate to have so many wonderful friends. My family can be a pain in the ass but I love them too with everything I’ve got.
It’s been widely read after his death, but this Roger Ebert quote stuck with me:
“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.” – Roger Ebert
Here’s another good one:
“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” – D.H. Lawrence
To all of my friends and family, I couldn’t have done it without you.
Keep telling stories! Keep playing music! Stay Gold Pony Boy!