It is quite amazing how our past experiences inform what we do and who we are today. We are not the same people and yet they do collectively make us into some sort of character. After watching a four part series on Punk Rock I was taken back to the days in which I was a punk and realize in many ways still am. Outwardly I struggled as a teenager with the usual being uncomfortable in my skin and internally with the raging hormones and philosophical battle of having grown up in a catholic family with all the guilt that came with it.
Along comes PUNK just at the right time. The words and energy conveyed in the music, and countless number of shows I attended were just what I needed to break free of the rules and all that shit that was bogging me down internally. It needed to be expressed. Fueled with music, energy from others and alcohol it was a perfect concoction. I still felt uncomfortable in my own skin, but I could blend in and let the music take me away. I spent countless hours lying on the floor of my bedroom with headphones on cranking and disappearing into the music. It was freedom. After a period of time the lyrics and attitudes associated with the movement sunk in and really became a part of me. I still had to sell out and do all that one needs to do to sort out what fits best in life, all the while being informed by my punk rock roots. I still had it. I had to go through the phases of feeling too young to be a punk, but knowing deep down I still had the attitudes without the look.
Fast forward many decades and the roots of my character are still connected to punk and have informed my decisions to not participate on certain levels any longer in the American dream, which I tried, corporate life, which I tried, car culture, which I have not done in quite some time and even paying taxes. I pay them, just not in the country of origin. I was on some level informed by the experiences of my punk days and the decision to move to Japan and no longer participate in the American culture. In Japan, as ironic as this may sound, I can blend in and not participate in the way that one would be expected if living in the US.
While watching the last segment of the punk series I was moved to tears (I know, how punk rock. In my defense I’ve softened with old age) listening to the older punks of my generation who still have the attitude, albeit with maturity. Some still look the part, not my cuppa tea, although I am by no means typical in the way I dress. As they were speaking I could hear how punk continues to inform the way in which they choose to live their lives, and on some level not participate in the typical way. I was also moved when I realized that I too am the same way with a modicum of wisdom and a whole helluva lot of life experience between then and now.
I would not have traded my punk rock experience for anything even knowing in hindsight how difficult and awkward it was at the time. I am grateful it continues to inform my life and besides that it is still great music I listen to.
What experiences inform your life?