Being a white guy from Queens, I love Billy Joel. Seen him in concert many times, listen to his music on a loop, just love him. I actually owe some of that to PJ, who played his greatest hits albums on a particularly significant Retreat when I was in the Program. My first Coffeehouse performance was You May Be Right. That actually wound up being a real turning point for me. (One which you can read more about in my article from the March 2017 newsletter.) The point is that I’m a fan.
As with many people, I identify strongly with particular songs. They have special significance. “He’s singing to me” right? I directed a play last fall at my alma mater, St. John’s University. It wound up being a gratifying, but bittersweet experience for me. (You really can’t go home again. True story.) The song that I immediately went to (and which I somewhat prophetically chose to open the show) was I’ve Loved These Days. As I’ve gotten older and tried to take stock of my life and what I still want to accomplish, I have developed a deep attachment to Vienna. Miami 2017 helped me deal with 9/11. As a younger man, I moved from the defiance of Angry Young Man to the melancholy of Summer, Highland Falls. (I’ve actually been there a few times. There used to be this amazing hot dog shop that closed down. Sadness or euphoria, indeed.) My daughter was almost born to Billy Joel (though that was my wife’s choice.) One song that has served as a though line for me, however, is I Go to Extremes.
It seems an apt description of how I have lived my life. “And if I stand or I fall, it’s all or nothing at all.” I throw myself fully into projects that I never finish. I find a new website or YouTube channel and it becomes an obsession, only to burn out and drop it entirely. I don’t seem to be interested in half measures. Sometimes it’s a problem.
Recently I have had something of a falling out with the pickup hockey league that I helped form six years ago. The short version is that I have been pushing since the beginning for us to form teams to play in competitive leagues and tournaments with limited success. I was one of the main goalies in our league. The only one there since day one. Spent thousands of dollars and countless hours of blood sweat and tears. Literally lost sleep over games. Did permanent physical harm to myself. I found out a couple of months ago that a large number of people in the league have been putting together side teams for leagues and tournaments that I have been shut out from. Understand, this has been something that I love. An incredibly important part of my life for years. I’m ready to burn the whole thing to the ground. “Eager to please. Ready to fight. Why do I go to extremes?”
I suppose the Apostles experienced some of that. When they were with Jesus they were all-in, ready to take on the world. The zeal of a true believer. Jesus went away and suddenly they are hiding in a closet. Even the first Pope promised to be eternally faithful to Jesus until he was skulking in the dark pretending he’d never heard of Him. I just don’t know. Great things are accomplished with great passion, but the compromises that keep the world spinning are made with an even keel. More self-examination for me, I guess.
At the end of the day, I suppose I have to trust that God has a plan for me. He made me this way for a reason. I will learn to capture the passion and channel the rage into something important. I must believe that. That has to be the finish line.
For now, I need to work on Keeping the Faith. Talk to you soon.