i want to reach out and touch the flame

It seems like a lifetime ago that I first discovered music through the blessing that was at that point in my life MTV. In many ways, it *is* several lifetimes ago. Like it happened to another version of me. It was a cultural shock of sorts. It not only blasted at me the music and videos of some legendary artists. For many aspects, it was also the first contact I had with the way life was happening for teenagers that had not grown up behind the Iron Curtain. Accepting and embracing wildly different world views is not that hard at that age; but sometimes, the enormity of what I knew as daily life and what I glimpsed at (covered in the glamour charm of television as it was) still strikes me to this day. In a sense, even real things happening on tv retained that fiction aura for me; it was after all stuff that only happened to others, on tv.

One of the things that fell into that category were concerts. I watched live videos, and MTV Unplugged, and reports from Glastonbury and Roskilde and Rock am Ring. And somehow it always seemed surreal, that those are real people sitting in those audiences, close to their stars, and singing along all those songs I also knew by heart. And somehow, even back then, I realized that there is a profound gap between me and the kids my age I saw on the screen.

I have, in the past years, managed to somewhat bridge that gap. I have been to concerts and festivals and I have seen artists perform live whom I never thought I would ever get the chance to see other than on the screen or in magazines. Each time I dive into the adventure ravenously. Most of the times, it is an amazing experience, but it is always tinged – sometimes with nostalgia and sometimes with the sheer desperation of one who realizes that time cannot be turned back. However hard I try, I will not make up for all the lost time and will never be able to live through the experience with the wonderfully open mind I had when I was 15.

I will never be one of the kids on the screen and I am amazed at my bitterness for it. Sometimes though, I hold in my hands a concert ticket and the prospect of actually seeing the band who’s name is printed on it is so otherworldly and awe-inspiring that I have difficulties letting it sink in. I am still half not believing that tomorrow by this time, I will be stretching aching feet on a hotel bed in Berlin and I will have seen U2.

I want to run, I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside
I want to reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name
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don’t bend; don’t break; baby, don’t back down

If I were to improve just one thing about myself… That is one of those uncomfortable self-assessment questions that I hate. Because in order to truly answer it, you must look in a really unpleasant mirror. Most of the times, I single out my willpower for the “needs urgent improvement” award. But now that I think of it, it is not really that. I can get my act together, if I find sufficient reason to do so. My real issue is that it’s just a bright blaze that burns out quickly. I am not a long distance runner. I want either immediate results or fun in the process. Without any of those, my willpower just hisses and sputters and dies out like a lit match in a bucket of water.

I am attempting to dangle the proverbial carrot in front of my own nose. I am patting myself on the back for the little steps and calmly trying to explain to myself the thousand other little steps needed for the journey make a difference. But I need results. I need to taste the little victories. Something abstract like “you are now one step closer to the goal” doesn’t cut it. And if it doesn’t feel like I am moving in any direction… lord, please let it be fun at least. Let me feel good about it. But nope… nothing on that side either.

Still, nothing left to do but soldier on. Good little marching ant. Eyes on the prize. Keep calm, don’t let things get to you.

You better stand tall when they’re calling you out. Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down.

Well, either that, or cuddle up and take a nap. It’s been a nap-heavy time lately…

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