The other day I heard a radio announcer (Tom Power if you must know) interviewing a popular musician and a certain phrase jumped out and struck me as a subject worth discussing. He said to her: (essentially) “this was a pivotal moment for you. Before this you were “a nobody” and then you were suddenly thrust into fame and superstardom.”

From this perspective all or most of us are nobodies unless or until we are famous. That discounts a huge number of people in the world. Namasté, baby. 

What an absurd hierarchy. 

My respect for general historical knowledge is growing as I become more aware of where in one’s life one is. I already follow many musicians and authors and artists and can recognize the different eras of each and , so I am aware of their growth and or decline at a macro level. I love comparisons of people and places separated by time. 

Many “non nobodies” we only know from photos or film. We picture them in our heads from one of their photos frozen in time. Ever see Sigmund Freud without a beard? Mark Twain without grey hair? Film actors are trapped at the age the film was shot. When I picture any of the Beatles, it is usually from the sixties.

People change.

The average age of human cells is seven years. Some regenerate in a matter of days and others last for more than several decades. I know this now, because I was thinking about how much people change over time and I googled it. The idea that we are completely different at a cellular level is false. The key word being “average”.

The way I see it, I have significantly changed, pivoted or transitioned probably a dozen times or so in my 66 years on this planet.

There was the young Ian before school; the schoolboy/chorister who lived in TMR; the troubled adolescent me who lived in St. Sauveur. A year at a boarding school in Montebello. Then the college me for two years at Acadia; then the “finding out a direction me” as I discovered a love for jazz and I spent an inordinate amount of time practicing and developing and getting a degree in music, then getting my teacher credentials . The years I spent with a woman who became my first wife. Four in Winnipeg, then back to Montreal and a decade doing music therapy with children with autism. then Kids. The Dad years, houseowner. There is considerable overlap in some of these “eras” or “stages” of my life. Back to teaching. The death of my father. There is the transition from childhood to adolescence of my daughters and the pitfalls of negotiating what had become an untenable marriage. The new marriage; Space to create; retirement; time to create.

Ten years ago I had just gone through a burnout, no music, my marriage was on the skids (we were separated but co-habiting- I don’t recommend it) and I was transforming. Waking up to who I was and who I wanted to be. The only constant throughout this and forever is my love and commitment for my girls. 

My yoga teacher, my therapist and my own hard, truthful appraisal of what was really going on in my life led me to start accepting and believing in myself as I found out who that was and who I could become.  

“I love myself, I love my body, I love my life just the way it is, it is perfect!”-Dr. Bali

Most of the friendships I have now I have developed over the last ten years. The major upheaval of divorce and the huge difference of going from middle aged to golden aged have contributed to this. Most of my current friends have never seen me clean shaven or wearing a tie….. pictures of me from “before” are as alien as pictures of my ancestors from 100 years ago. Their image of me is as I am now. 

Some of my “before” friends were able to keep up and accept me as I am now, some died, some just disappeared. My kids are a constant as are my siblings who have “known me” the longest. I put “known me” in quotation marks because they know only a part of me, like reading a Wikipedia biography. Loads left out, loads of assumptions. They shine a light on what fits their historic assumptions, gloss over the iffy bits. 

There are skimmers everywhere….”Europe in 30 days”… if….  People who make snap judgements like taking snapshots of a moment and thinking they have some whole story. Headline readers, “Best of…..” listeners. 

I suppose we are all surface dwellers to a certain extent.

I was re-acquainted recently with a friend from grade school. We had met 61 years ago in Kindergarten. I could have easily picked him out of a line up, and vice versa. He told me I haven’t changed a bit. I jokingly said to him: “I had a beard and grey hair in Kindergarten?!?!?” He remembers me differently from how I remember me, but not by much. We always think worse of ourselves in retrospect. I do, anyway.

Each of those eras is still in me. I am a product of the times. White middle class post-war baby boomer smartass punk. The hopes, the pains, the lessons learned, the lessons ignored, the mistakes made, the roads taken. All of this experience still in me even though many of the cells in my body have been replaced.

I am sure I still exist. I am not famous, but not a nobody. I will continue to exist until I don’t. When I die, there will be some memories of me held by my loved ones, some crap I have acquired, the body of work I have left behind, and that’ll be it. Back to carbon like everybody else. Mortal.

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