Music is one of those things that transcends time. We can spend our entire lives building and tweaking some widget that will only be replaced, upgraded and forgotten in a few short years. But a song that moves you, a piece of art that speaks to you, a good story that takes you away can span generations. While that latest piece of technology or all those running miles logged are long, long forgotten.
I’m still on a high from the other night’s Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show in San Jose. We left feeling like we had just been to a rock-n-roll revival. Nicole and I had seen the band at the Arco Arena back in 2008 and I remember being amazed at Bruce’s level of energy while in his late 50’s. Now, at 62, the man and the entire band delivered an epic performance. Chances come and go and some opportunities never come around again and I thought this might be the only chance for all of us to see The Boss together. I’d been waiting months for this night. It marked the first concert for Dylan (ears stuffed with wax) and he was pumped, although unfortunately by about 10 PM Dylan was lights out until the encore. But even the first 90 minutes of the show together, with the three of us clapping, singing and having a good time feeling the music, were priceless.
At one point during the 3 hour, 26 set show, Springsteen took a few minutes and preached to the crowd in his raspy gospel voice. “We are here on the same mission we’ve pursued night after night, year after year. We are here to manifest the joyous power of rock ‘n’ roll music and shoot it straight into your heart. We want you to wake up tomorrow morning and say, ‘What the .. happened to me? I feel different.'” My son, understanding bits here and there, turned to me with a big smile on his face. We shared a good laugh. At one point during the concert, Bruce’s copy of his set list floated off the stage and he forgot the song. The crowd waited for a new set list to be brought on stage and we knew the music was live and there was no lip syncing. Of all the performances I’ve been lucky to see, nothing has risen to the level of a Springsteen show.
Yesterday, we drove back down to the Bay Area and Monterey for the Big Sur Marathon. I’ve paced this marathon the past couple years and it’s always good to connect with some of the other CLIF Bar pacers. The course, although providing incredible scenery, is a challenge. I wouldn’t want to attempt a PR on this course but for a destination and scenic marathon it’s hard to beat. There are some good climbs while the winds howl in your face, making your pace feel more like a crawl. And the last 6 miles have some good kickers. This year I had a good group up through about Mile 20 where a few stuck together. A highlight was running with Dan Mitchell, a solid runner whom I met last year. He was back again and ran a very solid 3:30 into some fierce headwinds.
The topic of legacy has been coming to mind lately. What’s so fascinating about this time in history is that almost everything we do is recorded. I can go on Facebook and look at my timeline and see how my life has progressed. It tells a story. It may or may not tell the story that I want to tell. But it does tell a story. Sometimes I think we are weaving an interesting story but then look back and it can all appear so boring and routine. Social media is the ultimate “keeping up with the Joneses.” A quick check of Facebook in the evening tells how cool and adventurous my friends were while my day was spent in the binary world. One friend just launched a new company. Another friend just left for a trip around the world. Another just finished a 50 mile run. Another just won a bike race. And what did I do today? All this information can have the danger of depressing instead of inspiring if I feel like I have to do to what everybody else is doing. We used to have just a few lines on our tombstone to describe the life we led. With the internet, there’s a lot more information we can leave behind to tell our story. Hopefully our story will be more than “He ran. He biked. And he raced.” Folks, there’s a lot of life to live out there. Don’t be afraid to treat life more like a smorgasbord and not get so fixated on a single purpose and eat the same thing over and over.
And sometimes trying new things can be hard. Like we keep trying to tell Dylan, just try it once and if you don’t like it we don’t have to try it again. And he can put up a fight when we want to try a new ski run, but once he starts skiing the new run and finds a new jump, it’s almost guaranteed at the bottom he’ll claim it’s his new favorite.
So we know the older we get, the harder we are to change. I’m so scared that at 50 my life will look the same that it does now. It can be so easy to stay the course and stick with the same routine. I’m a creature of habit and can get stuck in my habits like anyone else. One of the classic lines in The Matrix is when Trinity turns to Neo and says, “You’ve been down there, Neo. You already know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.” We might as well be telling ourselves this one. Whether in life decisions, relationships, training. Sometimes I keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result. We don’t know what we don’t know. We do the familiar and the same, yet expect new and different results. I used to care about telling an impressive story. Now I hope to tell an interesting story.