Freedom When I’m 64
First, I need to take a moment to acknowledge that we just lost Richie Havens.
He never really got famous, though he opened at Woodstock and played that song called Freedom that said it all. I saw him several times, even got his autograph once. His 1966 debut album had a Tuli Kupferberg song, “Morning, Morning” that helped me feel my teenage loneliness. And his next album “Something Else Again” embodied his own changes that we were all (at least all those I knew) going through at the time. His unique voice and playing style – you know what? Words about music usually fail. Click on the link and enjoy yourself: http://entertainment.time.com/2013/04/22/richie-havens-6-essential-performances/
So last Friday I turned 64. Yeah, I know. Everyone’s been singing the song to me.
Here’s my version:
Now I got older, lost all my hair,
Years flew by, and how!
Will you still explain me how to tweet and text?
My phone, iPhone
If I been out ’till quarter to three
Will I find the door?
Will you still need me?
Will you still read me?
Now I’m 64!
And what a year I’ve had: Besides all the traveling to Aruba and Europe, I watched my Shellilly come into the full bloom of retirement.
I also developed a list of about a dozen creative ideas to pursue. And when I took no action on them for most of the past year (Ron had suggested I first savor some recent accomplishments) I felt a little coo coo. I knew if I continued to not embark on a new healthy adventure, I’d embark on a new unhealthy one.
But eventually two of the ideas I’d been sitting on began to hatch and capture my imagination: A book about my more exotic adventures, and, of all things, a documentary film about men here in Brooklyn. I’ve started work on both.
And – ahh! — that feels better.
What’s more, in a couple of days, we’re off to Barbados! (If we can make it out of the airport, that is, what with the recent congressional budget cuts now hitting the FAA.) We’ll miss Romeo, but he will be well sat for.
And this past week I retired my student loan — some two or three years early! I got emotional when I hit the “Make Payment” button for the last time. It was as if my mom and dad were hovering, and happy for me. And it puts a final ending to the ordeal that began in late ’04, when I, after being stunned with the unwanted challenge (from a new state licensing law) of returning to college, rose and triumphed, thereby saving my career. One day I’ll tell you the whole (and full) story.
Reaching this (st)age, I’m still grappling with this ongoing tension between wanting to slow down, and an urge to keep creating and fulfill all my potentials.
I love being alive. But what quickly follows this feeling is the fear to fully claim my life, lest it all be taken away.
“Oh, so now you finally decide you really love it here, huh? Well we’ll see about that!”
It’s a Jewish thing. (The old Kaynahorah Theory.)
But lately it occurs to me that it’s mortality that makes this a true adventure, no? The fact that it all ends (and you often don’t know when) is what gives it that extra edge and makes it all work, like with any story. Only with this book, you usually don’t get to see how thick it is.
And that life ends is also what gives our story much of its meaning as well.
Meantime, at B&H Sunday, with my new documentary-making partner in crime/tech man, Adam, I go look at equipment. To make the doc I need a good camera, some good mikes. Simple, right? Everyone I spoke to in the biz was very clear about this:
“Don’t worry about the camera; get good audio equipment; that’s what matters.”
“No! You must get an HD camera.”
“Don’t worry about that; it can be upgraded in post-production. But you need a camera with two pro audio inputs. And get a wired Lavalier mike.”
“No get a wireless Lavalier”.
“Boom poll! Shotguns! H-4 Zooms! Editing software! XLRs! Lighting! Tripods!”
Rent it! E Bay! Go to B&H!
I felt like throwing them all in a room and letting them work it out.
But I’ve come to learn that context is everything, so I need to first set up the game to win, and then – and only then –- begin to play.
But at least I’m not doing all this alone. And I like the newness, and starting to work on something that’s different and exciting. It’s a way of stemming off an early onset of pre-mortification – or that condition in which one’s life ends long before one’s death.
Which brings me back to Richie, with that wonderful last name, which is what his best songs were, and who, along with those songs, will always live in my heart.