I turn 41 today. I definitely don't feel 41. I maybe feel more like I did when I was in my mid-20s. Luckily, I don't have aching parts of my body. I still don't wear glasses, or really need to, although I can tell my vision is not as sharp as it used to be. I can't read street signs 4 blocks away anymore, and while I miss that superpower, I have learned to be more patient and read the sign when I get closer.
I was driving home last night listening to a workout playlist when Judas Priest's "Heading Out to the Highway" came on over the car speakers. There are a lot of songs that are great metaphorically, and my favorite ones are probably about living life, and out of those, Bob Dylan's "Mississippi" would probably be my favorite, even though it's more about life and death.
Metal gets a bad rap for being big and dumb. And it is. That is why we like it, I think. The song before "Heading Out" was Saxon's "Denim and Leather", which has the lyrics, Did you read the music paper from the back and to the front, which also reminded me that kids that listened to metal got a bad rap as being big and dumb. But Saxon knew we read, and it wasn't just the music paper.
"Heading Out to the Highway" starts out with the kind of riff that made Judas Priest an influence over the genre. The drums and bass kick in, then Rob Halford sings:
Well I've said it before, and I'll say it again
You get nothin' for nothin', expect it when
You're back seat drivin' and your hands ain't on the wheel
It's easy to go along with the crowd
And find later on that your say ain't allowed
Oh thats the way to find what you've been missin'
This is a good lesson for all you teenagers out there. While it's nice to go out and have fun, you also need to be focused on getting your shit together so that when the time comes, you can make your move instead of wondering what the hell happened.
I can't even remember the class I was taking in college that involved writing a resume. I believe it was in my third year, and as I was trying to fill the thing with information, I sort of freaked out because other than go to classes, work shit jobs, and play in various bands, I didn't have anything that appeared credible to go on the resume. Soon thereafter, I became a resident assistant, and when I had to do an internship, I didn't opt for the easy one at the university, but took 8 months off to go work in a real factory doing real industrial safety work, which is what I do today.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you not to have a good time (yeah, everyone who knows me can tell you that), but just watch for opportunities and think about what you want to do down the road.
You can hang in a left or hang in a right
The choice it is yours to do as you might
The road is open wide to place your biddin'
Now, wherever you turn, wherever you go
If you get it wrong, at least you can know
There's miles and miles to put it back together
That second verse has such a positive message. If you fuck it up, don't worry about it, you can always change and find a different way. This is an important message to remember with your relationships with people, as well. It can apply to changing carrers when you're middle age. The key here is that Halford has a healthy attitude about it; he knows if he goes the wrong way, he's still got miles and miles to put it back together, it doesn't have to happen right then and there.
Makin' a curve or takin' the strain
On the decline, or out on the wain
Oh everybody breaks down sooner or later
We'll put it to rights, well square up and mend
Back on your feet to take the next bend
You weather every storm that's comin' at cha
Yeah, you're gonna get old. But try to stay in shape and eat right. Everybody breaks down sooner or later.
So there's my message of wisdom to you on my 41st birthday. No Springsteen "Thunder Road" or mystical Dylan song. Just the leadoff tune from a 28-year old Judas Priest album. If you need me, you'll know where to find me:
So I'm heading out to the highway
I've got nothing to lose at all
Gonna do it my way
Take a chance before I fall