Rearviewmirror

Last month, I saw Pearl Jam play at Wrigley Field. Play isn’t quite the right word. Steamroll. Freight train. Destroy. Those are all better ways of describing the energy that Eddie Vedder and the rest of the band bring to their shows. It was my first time seeing them live — nearly 27 years since they dropped Ten — an album I played so much in college that my soul knows every chord and haunting howl by heart.

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It was Eddie in his hometown, commanding the stage above his beloved Cubbies outfield. He’s the lead singer who grinds, who exploded as part of Seattle grunge but figured out how to survive. None of the other leading frontmen from that era are still alive. Kurt Cobain. Chris Cornell. Layne Staley. Scott Weiland. Andrew Wood. They all succumbed to their demons. Eddie just seems to wrestle with his every time he steps on stage. I believe that’s why Pearl Jam’s music persists, why this band will always be remembered as one of the greatest. Eddie figured out how to talk to his demons, and through his music, let us talk to and tame our own.

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Eddie’s voice came back to me on Thursday night. I’d just finished dinner with K and was heading west to another event. The sun filled my windshield, blindingly orange and incredibly tempting.

How much time do I have? It doesn’t start for another 25 minutes. 

I came to my turn on the edge of town, but didn’t take it.

Eddie’s voice. Rearviewmirror….

I took a drive today, time to emancipate….

I took off after another sunset.

I needed to feel the gravel under my tires, to see the re-opening horizon as harvest buzzcuts the fields. I left a quarter-mile cloud of dust behind me as I chased.

My mind kept framing the scene in front of me, wondering where I would stop to capture the image. Nothing would settle. Nothing seemed worth the stop. I was out of time. My event started in ten minutes, so I turned back east.

I looked behind me in the mirror. It was spotted and smudged, but the sunset filled it with a beauty I hadn’t seen through the windshield.

Saw things
Saw things
Saw things
Saw things
Clearer
Clearer
Once you, were in my…
Rearviewmirror…

I stopped the car and let my dusty wake settle.

A dusky, peaceful sunset appeared before me.

But, I saw something else.

I saw my life’s rearview mirror. I saw all the people and relationships I’ve chosen to exclude from my life. I saw all the drama into which I injected myself, not as a useful coach, but more often a complicating, self-serving “solution”. I saw all of the ways in which I was bad for others, and the ways in which they were bad for me. I saw how I brought out the worst in some, and others brought out the worst in me.

Most clearly, I saw all the versions of me that didn’t work, that I no longer want, choose, or need to be. I no longer need to fight to keep those versions in my rearview. They are indelibly part of my history, but they no longer define who I am.

I now see clearly who I am. I know who I am as a partner, father, son, friend, leader, colleague, and citizen — and I’m proud of him. My relationships that remain are all productive and healthy, and that includes my relationship with myself.

I’ve spent much of the last two years learning to forgive those previous versions of me, while learning from their mistakes — and not engaging those people or situations that provoke or tempt them.

I’ve often wondered why I’m motivated to chase the sky as I do. Eddie’s words may hold the key.

Saw things
Saw things
Saw things
Saw things
Clearer
Clearer
Once you, were in my…
Rearviewmirror…

I think I need to offer the pieces that no longer fit in my life back to the universe. I give them to the sun as it disappears over the horizon. I let the sun take my demons back into the ether. I turn back east — seeing myself, and tomorrow, more clearly.

Published by Christopher Tidrick

Be real. Love always. Share beauty. Lead well. Learn more.

One Comment

  1. I’ve heard great things about Eddie and how he has taken young up and coming artists under his wing in Hawaii — great insights here :)) Dawn

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    Reply

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