A New Year – It’s Times Like These

It’s times like these you learn to live again.

burroI  decided to go to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico because I happened upon a table of trinkets, tchotchkes, and San Miguel folk art at the French Market in New Orleans, and fell instantly in love with the colorful merchandise. Since then, I’ve dreamed of visiting because I knew I would find my destiny there.

I pictured San Miguel as the “Greenwich Village of Mexico.” It’s an apt name. It was the perfect place to reflect upon the next step of life. That step is not necessarily about a career path or a geographical relocation, but simply what it means to be at this stage of life, to settle into 50.

A while back, a friend’s friend read my Tarot cards for my 50th birthday. The predominant theme, predictably, was “croning.” Many years ago, I used Mary Greer’s Tarot for Yourself to determine that my life and destiny cards were the Hermit, which would be the Crone in feminine terms. This year is a good time to embrace some refined wisdom. Unfortunately, the Hermit’s problem is his proclivity for too much introspection. Yup. It’s difficult to accept that you’re the Yoda and not the Luke Skywalker in the story. Everyone thinks they’re the Luke. The Hermit bailed from the narrative telos. Reflecting on the Hermit’s path certainly gave me pause as I hobbled about the winding, slippery cobblestone goat paths of the quaint Mexican town during an unseasonably rainy period.

Hence, the “big question”: Do I come down from the mountain hideaway and get back onto the path of life? Or do I stay hiding up in the mountain.

Here’s a related incident. Less than a week before heading off on this idyllic Mexico vacation, I totaled my car. It was a “hitting bottom” type of low spot. Low spot, get it? The wreck was at the foot of the mountain, so to speak – or perhaps in Joseph Campbell’s terms, the belly of the whale of you follow the hero’s quest stuff. In that moment, while staring at my mangled car, I recognized that although a new car might mean the financial burden of a car note, it also meant I am also free of the “divorce car.” The wrecked car is a boring, white sedan that resembled a loaf of Wonder Bread.

Think of the possibilities, the reinvention of self that comes with shopping for a new car. For men in their 50s, sports cars are iconic of mid-life crisis. For women, “we shop, therefore we are.” That’s the stuff of the American consumer in perpetual reinvention. So, even though “home” and shopping have been predominant themes on this blog over the past couple of years, but cars are equally important to the middle class American dream. Our sense of ontological comfort and the expression of our self identities comes from cars too.

Home is stability, after all, but cars are mobility. Home is rootedness, but cars are freedom and independence. These icons are two halves of a whole. Our country’s wealth and industry were made on this mobility, our modern industrialism based on the Ford factory model, and our experience of movement through our physical space itself is designed for the automobile and the manifest destiny of the open road. The American landscape is uninterpretable without an automobile, as Jean Baudrillard pointed out in his book, America. I have always felt trapped and desperate without a car, a vestige of growing up in poverty in a geographical location where survival requires transportation.

As part of the current turning point in my life, as part of claiming my destiny, I decided to change the theme song of my blog. Up to now, the song has been the Talking Head’s “Once in a Lifetime,” which captures the “what the f*ck” feeling I experienced for a long, long time. “Once in a Lifetime” sung to me the middle class malaise that is both comforting and stultifying. Now is time for something new, something that captures the “home and away” feeling, the house and car, stay and go, cave and call to adventure. The Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” captures that new feeling. If the song doesn’t work, there’s always another.

I am a one way motorway
I’m the road that drives away
then follows you back home
I am a street light shining
I’m a white light blinding bright
burning off and on

it’s times like these you learn to live again
it’s times like these you give and give again
it’s times like these you learn to love again
it’s times like these time and time again

I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?

it’s times like these you learn to live again
it’s times like these you give and give again
it’s times like these you learn to love again
it’s times like these time and time again

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