Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Saturday, April 8, 2023
Saturday, April 1, 2023
The Bible is rarely a practical guide for anything, but it does on occasion provide a useful guideline. For instance:
The age when men finish growing up is twenty-eight.
Nor was the Hoary Head, Yahweh/ Jehovah, the only deity to find compelling circumstance in that age. There are other religions that find something happening around that time, and even some of our secular social scientists think that twenty-eight may represent some kind of final adolescence.
No less than Albrecht Duerer, the great late-Renaissance painter, being no stranger to self-portraits, created his most self-aggrandizing and elaborate self-portrait at that age (in the year 1500). You should look it up, just enter “durer self portrait” in the Google search. It screams, “I, Albrecht Duerer, am God!”
I myself experienced something strange at that age, although there was nothing self-aggrandizing about it. It was more like a nervous breakdown. I suddenly felt very old. It suddenly seemed like everything about my childhood, and early adulthood, had happened a very long time ago. I felt like I had been in high school somewhere around the Civil War. My attention was drawn to the rear-view mirror, even more than usual. It was a little like waking from a dream. It coincided with a difficult time in my journey of life, and I fell into a deep depression. What had I accomplished? Where the hell was I going? I was quite unmoored there for a while.
I snapped out of it. I realized that I had not even reached thirty, much less gotten “old” all of a sudden. I made a plan. The plan itself was a good one. My execution of the plan got me a BA and a JD to prove that at least I wasn’t stupid. It failed, unfortunately, in its particulars. That’s another story. At least one, maybe more.
This whole thing seems to hit young people harder when they have only recently moved from unknown and poor to celebrity status and loads of money. I’m thinking of the great number of musicians who have died at the age of twenty-seven. (Close enough, I’m sure, for rock and roll.)
Jimi Hendrix was twenty-seven years, 295 days old when he got careless with unfamiliar pills.
Robert Johnson was twenty-seven when he got careless and drank whiskey from an unsealed bottle.
Brian Jones, founder, leader, and musical guiding light of the Rolling Stones, died at twenty-seven after being hounded out of the band by snarky, upwardly mobile band-mates.
Janis Joplin died at twenty-seven. Between being pushed around by the money people and moving suddenly from object of derision to the status of divinity, I’m not surprised that her system just overloaded.
Ron “Pig Pen” McKernan died at twenty-seven. The band missed him so much that they declined to replace him as a vocalist, much to their detriment.
Amy Winehouse and Jim Morrison both died at twenty-seven, although not the same year.
Kurt Cobain died at twenty-seven. You could see it in his eyes in all of his teenage photos: he didn’t expect to last very long.
I’m going to include Johnny Ace, who suffered a strange death at twenty-five. He had been scuffling for a long time already at that point, trying to make a living as a singer, trying to have a hit. He had a show the night of the day that “Pledging My Love” was released. Before the show, he was probably having a few pops with the band, and he was fooling around with somebody’s pistol. He was hoping against hope that the new song would be a hit, but his confidence was low. He had been disappointed before. He emptied the pistol, put one round back in the cylinder, gave it a spin, and put the gun to his head. “Well, boys,” or something to this effect, “if I live, it’ll be a hit; if I die, it won’t matter anyway.” He really should have asked for better advice at that point. He pulled the trigger , and it was goodbye Johnny Ace. The song, of course, was a giant, crossover hit, and remains one of the all time great songs. “Forever my darling…” or at least until about 8:30 tonight.
I think it’s true that there is some kind of hinge period during our late twenties. A shift in our thinking. A surrender of childish things. An emotional Schwerpunkt.
If you are not there yet, dear reader, fear not. It is just an illusion. A trick of memory. You are still young, and you will be fine.
If you have made it past that hump, good for you. I hope it was all very easy for you, and that it all worked out great.