One of the things I discovered in college and grad school was that my past as a folksinger, road bum, and general neer do well was not universally appreciated by professors and peers who had “played by the rules” all their lives. Time spent among the creative dregs of society was not appreciated. The better-off toyed with their hippie infatuation but returned home to Mom and Dad when reality intruded for the payment of rent, food, or treatment of social diseases. After all there are creators and then there are consumers. The more locked down you are the more likely you are to be a consumer, and not a creator.
I learned the truth of Richard Farina’s Sellout Agitation Waltz very rapidly:
Society is never geared
To people who grow a beard
Or little girls with holes in their ears
They’re liable to hunt you down
And dress you in a wedding gown
And offer substantial careers
They’ll buy you a suit of clothes
And pay to get another nose
So no one will turn you away
Well, I was through with the previous lifestyle; it had almost run through me with the final passages spent being on the run from a sociopath with a gun. So with a shrug, I stowed the boots and hid the past. Or at least I tried. Undergrad was easy. Grad school was tough; there were too many Ivy leaguers who’d never worked a day or seen the rough side of life; and thought there was something dirty about it. You consumed life; you did not create it.
By the time I left grad school, I could kind of pass. But, I was a mole in normal society…a sleeper agent for unconformity. So, I found that occasional slips ups were not too noticeable. My sojourn among what passed for the normal was pretty dull. I played games when frustrated. I tied knots in the devil’s tail and loved the double entendre and satire.
I now find myself in the unique position of well…finding my way out of the maze. The suits and ties are in the closet, and I’m thinking of a bonfire for them one day—a symbolic gesture of peace and freedom.
The wood in the carving shop doesn’t care about the years I spent making nice. So every night, the guitar Comes out, and I run progressions and song snippets and play around. I am done “playing by the rules.” Life is about making selections; we need to choose wisely.
For those unable to cut loose, I offer a bit more of Farina’s song:
So cut your hair
And never stare
At people who ain’t aware
That every morning they wake up dead
Take off your boots
And find your roots
And join the ranks of the young recruits
Who have a collective idea