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"How Does It Feel?"

I never thought I’d live past 40: there was too much recklessness in me for that. No one would have been surprised if some man (or woman) with a gun – a boyfriend, husband, lover, would have caught up to me; or simply a stray bullet; a tragic road accident. Whatever. - Bob Dylan, "Like A Rolling Stone"


“Never put yourself in a situation where another man gets to decide your fate,” Dad said. “Don’t go to her house to spend the night; you don’t know who else has a key. Take her to your house. At least you'll have some idea as to who might shoot you in the ass.”


I listened; I heard; I didn’t always pay attention.


But I escaped. I remain amazed. I guess one of my nicknames, “Golden Boy,” was appropriate.


* * *


My Dad died after he had lived for 58 years and 10 months. I am now 61. I am older than Dad. Barely seems possible. I’ve also become him – in so many wonderful ways and a few not. Of the former I shall always be extremely proud. Of the latter: well, there is truth in that expression, “it doesn’t fall far from the tree.” (Although in which direction and how far it rolls is another story).


But, the script for my life, the one that was crafted by Dad, Mom, family, my ancestors, our schools and teachers, churches and preachers, ended when he died. The references are all there, of course; pages upon pages of them. But, my back story now seems complete. All of my "potential," obligations, duties and responsibilities from that script have either been fulfilled or they have not. There are no rewrites for that now, only reruns (and they get old and stale after awhile).


I heard the following line in 1962 or 63 when the movie came out. Actor Omar Sherif, as Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish in Lawrence of Arabia, saying to Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence, after Lawrence performed a near miracle;


“Truly El Lawrence, for some men nothing (of their fate) is written, unless they themselves write it.”


I wondered, at 12 or 13, might that, could that, apply to me?


If we are lucky, may each of us as individuals, at one point or another, realize that this is possible – to some degree, any degree – for each of us too? We will see it? We will open ourselves to it? We will reach out for it? Will WE dare to take pen to paper?


"How does it feel, To be on your own, With no direction home, Like a complete unknown, Like a rolling stone?"


I will always be “Gene Long’s kid,” Mr. Long’s son, Robert Jr. That is why I never dropped – and never will - the Jr. from my name.


But, it seems, the script for the rest of my life, is now – well, kinda’……blank. It is no longer written. The "Dad" model is gone. It feels as if some of it is now mine to write, however I may. Wow!....(breathe....exhale, breathe....exhale).


Age: day one – 30; marvelous. Year 31 – 60; exquisite. Now, 61 – 90 (which is displaying either remarkable hubris or gross optimism, depending upon one’s point of view): open, new, possible, scary - the apple gets to roll in any direction - purposefully - with only its finale etched on a fixed stone.


“Like a Rolling Stone” came on the radio today as I was shaving. Most of the time when we shave, we think nothing in particular. Sometimes, when we look into that face, those eyes stare directly back into ours. It almost burns. They say "Look at me. No...I said,!"


I remember when this Bob Dylan song came out. I was 15/16. I loved it. Most of us kids did. We listened, we wondered: “What will life bring? Hubris or Humility, Service or Servitude, Joy or Pain, Wins or Losses?” Well, it brought some of everything, in differing amounts, for each us. (We kids all quickly found out that in life, "fair" should always be spelled, "fare").


I stopped, I looked and listened. It feels more appropriate than in 1965 – and still, just as open-ended and inscrutable, too. I still love it - although at 16, we felt defiant upon singing it, whereas at 61 I just tend to get misty-eyed: go figure.


"When you ain't got nuthin', you got nuthin' to lose. You're invisible now, you have no conceal. How does it feel?" - Bob Dylan.


There is an expression for Opera than has subsumed itself into general culture; “It ain’t over ‘til the Fat Lady sings.” Well, as I was shaving, looking into a face and eyes I’ve looked into for over 61 years, I saw glimpses of new possibilities; of new things beginning, not old things ending.


I turned off the razor. I listened intently; not a fat lady note to be heard.


I looked around me, “I’ll be damned," I thought. "I don't see no fat lady sneakin' into view, either.”


"How Does It Feel?" - It feels Marvelous (breathe deeply - exhale slowly).




Year 61 – 90: Chapter One - "Let's Do This Thing!" :-)


Textures by: Les Brumes -

Skeletalmess -

Pareeerica -

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Taken on July 22, 2011