life’s too short
written upon arriving in baja sept, 2007
There are places I’ve been in my life that have had an immediate and lasting impact on me. Within seconds upon arriving, I could tell whether or not I was going to like it there, feel at “home” or never quite get comfortable. My first visit to New York City, coming up out of the subway to stand in the sensory overload of Manhattan, even as a 12 yr. old kid, I knew instantly I was “home” and that someday I would live in that mad, wonderful place. Took a while to get there but it was home for nine years and I still consider myself a New Yorker in heart and soul.
Paris was the same. Although I never lived there for any length of time, it remains one of my favorite cities on earth and was on my short list of places to settle at the end of the Straits tour. Australia took the number one slot after spending three months “down under”. Loved the place. The entire country. The cities. The beaches. The people. The vibe.
This feeling is immediate and visceral. Breathing the air tells me, “This is a place you belong.” Portofino, Italy was one. Barcelona, also. Austin, Texas was another. Houston was not. Neither was London or Los Angeles. It’s as if in another lifetime, I had been hounded and hunted, persecuted or punished in those places and my heart knows I will never feel settled, let alone happy there. How I landed in SoCal and stayed for so long is material for the book so you’ll just have to wait.
Cabo is one of the comfortable places. The area closest to San Jose del Cabo, the old town specifically. My first visit, I stepped off the plane at one of the funkiest little airports I’d ever seen, got one blast of the dry desert heat and was overtaken by that feeling. But it was my first sight of the ocean here that sealed the deal. I got out of the cab, stood on the beach looking at the ring of mountains with the tan, scrub-covered desert sloping to the brilliant blue water and, even then, still believing I was destined to be a rock star forever, heard the writer lurking within say, “someday, I will come here to live and write.”
Just like New York City, the journey to get here has most certainly taken a bit longer and been a route far more circuitous than hoped for or planned. It has been a long time coming, something I’ve dreamt about for years. My very good friend, Christopher – who I’d journeyed to Cabo with many times over the years, was kind enough to offer the guest house at his home here as a place to come and finish the book. An incredibly generous gesture for which I will be forever grateful.
I must admit, even in the excitement of moving forward to try and make it all happen – quitting my job, putting the house up for sale, selling so many things – there have been many heart-stopping moments here I thought, “My God, what am I doing?”
Now that I’m here, the answer is quite simple. I am being true to myself and who & what I am.
Two things I’ve learned and now believe beyond any shadow of a doubt in the days just before my 53rd birthday. First, Happiness, if it exists at all, and certainly any sense of inner peace, lies in knowing your true self and following your dreams. Otherwise, you are doomed to carry an ever-present, gnawing resentment and insidious rage, lurking to undermine every aspect of your life.
Trust me on this. Hell exists not in the afterlife but in the present for the man who, chained by doubt, fear or circumstance, knowingly lives with unfulfilled dreams.
The second is Tomorrow Never Knows. It cares not at all for our plans, hopes or wishes. We give this truth a passing acknowledgement in times of illness and death, vowing to pay more heed to the eggshell fragility of life and stay in touch with friends more, hug our kids more, share our secrets more, be vulnerable and kind and giving and say “I love you” more often. To finally, once and for all, make an effort to unleash our longings and wait not one moment longer to spring our aspirations – big or small – from the dark closet of our secret yearnings. To draw, to paint, to sing or learn to play piano or make the perfect souffle or swing dance like our parents, climb a mountain, skydive, master chess. Any or all of them and more. Yet time and again, regardless of our heartfelt resolutions, the days pass, routines return, responsibilities take over. Time slips away. Years disappear. Dreams fade.
In July of 2006, while vacationing here in Cabo with my daughters, Caitlin & Nadine, to celebrate their 18th birthday and graduation from high school, I woke one morning with the decision made. I was not happy. Not in my work. Not in my home. Not in my life. The thought had begun to haunt me about my father’s situation – the heart surgery, the stroke, the advance of Alzheimer’s. How he and my mother were being robbed of their life-long planned Golden Years Spent In Happy Retirement American Dream by this insidious disease and the ass-reaming health care costs. How his mind was vanishing along with their life savings. I couldn’t stop thinking about my own mortality, that genetics just might win out and I was looking at my own future in their present. That if my own health should fail and I’d never given this all-consuming desire its due while the last 15 or so years of my life were spent trying to convince other musicians to buy another fucking piece of gear, I knew I’d die a very, very angry man.
And I was tired of living as a very, very angry man.
I realized “like I was shot with a diamond…a diamond bullet right through my forehead” there was no other choice for me. Yes, the jobs served their purpose, allowing me to support my girls and live a comfortable lifestyle but I would not…could not go on writing part-time, thinking some day, some way I’ll get this to happen. Someday I’ll start to live the life I want to live. As a writer. An artist. All the while secretly praying for the windfall rescue of a lost relative’s inheritance or lottery winnings. Or hoping lightning would strike twice with a Mark Knopfler-esque phone call.
The dream demanded more attention, more respect, more effort. More love.
The time had most assuredly come to take the leap. To have faith. Not in luck or fate or God or astrology or rock ‘n’ roll. Faith in myself. And to make a move with no guarantee of a favorable outcome.
The day I returned to work after that vacation in Cabo, I quit my job and set forth on the Third Great Adventure of my lifetime. Rock n Roll Guitarist, Father and, now, to Write & become a published Author.
Success, in Fortune magazine or E! Tonight terms, may be elusive or never come at all. The journey may be far more difficult, painful and heartbreaking than other routes I could have chosen but I know this will be a far more satisfying trip in the end.
I’m fully aware of the risks involved, much more so than when I arrived in NYC as a kid with a guitar, a box of LPs and a couple hundred bucks. But I live to tell the tale.
And it’s going to make for a fucking great book.
In the words of the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson -
“Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride.”
So here we go, friends and neighbors!! Buckle up and Let It Rock,