Rush arrived at the Frank Erwin Center on Tuesday night for the start of their latest tour, just 5 days after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What ended up as a phenomenal 2.5 hour performance started with a song from 1982 called "Subdivisions". It immediately took me back to a place many years ago: January, 1984.
I will admit, those were difficult times, struggling as many do with trying to find your place in the world. While my friends gravitated towards the hollow mind candy of Top 40 hits, I found myself immersed in musicians like Jimi Hendrix and, yes, Rush. I saw the world a little differently than most of my friends, and it certainly wasn't without it's share of friction.
Meanwhile, there was this class called "Canadian literature" that I had to survive. Little did I know that it would change my world and forever alter the course of my life.
There's just one problem with Canadian literature. All of the required readings represented what I would have considered (at the time) as the sum total of anything remotely notable in the genre. So when you are then asked to write two reports on books that aren't a part of the curriculum, you have your hands full. This becomes even more problematic when you aren't really much of a writer in the first place. I was a math and science guy, and definitely not a writer.
Welcome to my literary angst.
Fortunately, my English teacher, Mr. Heuther, opened up the assignment and gave us an option. We could select a Canadian musician or band, choose a number of their songs, and do a review and analysis of their lyrics - instead of a Canadian author.
There was hope.
Rush saved me.
I dove headlong into their lyrics, the thoughtful and insightful musings of Neil Peart. I explored themes that had meaning to me. And, imagine this: it was my highest grade in that class all semester. It is the one piece of writing from high school that I filed away. I have it to this day.
There was far greater value to that essay than the grade I received. Until that point in time, I had not really thought that exploring and reflecting upon what was inside me was important or relevant. That changed quickly. I learned to value the process of self-reflection, to try and make sense of it, and then get it onto the page in front of me. I realized at that time that maybe I could write.
When I look back on my journey as a writer and as a human being, I harken back to what I learned about myself during that period. Much of that can be attributed to the themes buried in that one essay. It was alright to be an individual, to be a dreamer, to not necessarily fit. You didn't have to conform. You didn't have to be cool. It gave me strength to examine the world within me when others doubted me and life challenged me.
So you can imagine my thoughts, some 29 years after writing that paper, when Tuesday's concert started with "Subdivisions". I thought back to 1984, and I smiled. I got a little choked up. And I gave thanks to Neil, Alex, and Geddy. Little did you know the impact you had on one man's world so many years ago - and I am much better now because of it.
Photo credits: ceedub13