By Larry Feinstein
I guess it was around two weeks ago. I was in the midst of my mindless yoga practice when it happened. When you have been doing the exact same sequence of poses for around 30 years and doing it just about every morning, it wouldn’t shock you for me to say my body talks to itself. It remembers the proper way to hold each posture, having studied briefly in the Iyengar tradition, a story for another time.
My practice takes around a half hour. I always have my music on and it can be especially wonderful, depending upon whether I am doing a bridge pose or an arm balance or a series of sun salutations. I am incredibly attached to music. Sometimes, it can feel like it has taken over my body and I can rest, while it carries me wherever it wants to go inside me. In the midst of my practice, it is choreography for my mind, while my body attempts to stay still in each pose.
It was Bruce Hornsby and the Range. I was 42 years old, wedged into my roller-skate-size blue Dodge Colt on a one-way mission from New York City to Cerrillos Flats, N.M. It was Monday, June 1, 1987. I had been working in the broadcast advertising business for nearly 20 years. People were shocked by my seemingly sudden decision to leave it all.
I had been unhappy for years, and often felt like I was living someone else’s life. I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin. I don’t think I played the game very well on Madison Avenue. I was always very good at whatever I did, but sucked at politics. Contemporaries of mine were moving to places like Greenwich, Conn. and becoming vice presidents, living the life.
We’re almost ready for Bruce, but not quite yet. I haven’t made my main point. You know, when I was in my early 20s, I thought it was extremely cool that I was wearing a suit and tie and working at NBC. The anti-war thing was going on all around me, but I was really taken with being a grown up and having a secretary. It is simply where I was at the time.
I spent my 30s in therapy, where I learned to hate my mother and never figured out how to feel good about leaving my children. It forced me to think about my feelings and to try and communicate them. I took it very seriously. I was attracted to the Zen way of engaging the world, as a result of looking for a vocabulary to make sense of the magic, a hopeless endeavor, taking decades to ascertain.
If it’s okay with you, let’s slip back into the Dodge Colt. The passenger seat was reserved for my cheap, ghetto blaster. Some friends had given me a number of cassettes for my cross-country journey and loaded them into a special travel case. I was on the road just shy of a week, orchestrating my soundtrack. I can kind of remember where I was back then and the gigantic leap of faith for me. I felt liberated, on the way to finding a life of my own creation.
Graceland, by Paul Simon, was filled with joyful African rhythms and always had me smiling and bouncing in that front seat. I religiously gravitated to Bob Marley while listening to his stupendous Legends. Finally, we get to Bruce and his first album, which I loved listening to. It felt melodic and airy, a perfect traveling companion. Whenever I hear any music from those three albums, I am transported back to that time in my life, feeling differently with each visit.
In the midst of that yoga practice a couple of weeks ago, Mandolin Rain slipped out of Pandora’s box. Several years after moving to Santa Fe, I ended up promoting a concert series, called Music in the Pines, and I actually booked Bruce Hornsby and the Range for July 23, 1989. He was a nice guy, who paid his dues for years before making it.
I have been through so many experiences in my life and many of them are with me always. My relationship with my past keeps changing, because that is what life does to you. You can only see as far as your past until the future arrives by surprise. I keep looking for ways to define what it’s like to be older than most of you and I can’t, but I love trying. When I heard that music again, I thought about my ride and how my memory of it has changed over the decades, and here I am.
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