In the summer of 2007, I was an old man of 52. Laughter, hope, joy; these concepts were foreign to me. They had been supplanted by the terms work, duty, obligation; words that taste like ashes and have no happy associations. Adulthood and its attendant responsibilities had rendered the world nothing more than a blurred background mostly ignored while I continued my Sisyphean march towards the next pay check. I had somehow forgotten the glories of youth, and was even on the verge of forgetting that such a time ever occurred in my own life. But tickling at the back of my brain was a nagging thought, a persistent germ of an idea that roused something other than resignation in me. August 24, 2007. August 24, 2007. August 24, 2007.
Over and over throughout the course of the day, that date had risen to the forefront of my mind, flickered briefly and then faded away. What did it mean? There was something familiar about the date, a hint of half-remembered promise. August 24, 2007. At 8 p.m., while reviewing the same sheaf of papers that I had reviewed at least a half dozen times this week, the thought returned, but with an additional piece of information appended. Today is August 24, 2007. August 24, 2007, is the day Rush comes to town. Whatever shreds of happiness still lingered in the bleak outlands of my heart were summarily ground into a fine, chalky silt by the weight of this realization. There I was in a mostly abandoned office on a Friday night, nipping at a flask of Rittenhouse and trying to make sense of what had happened. I’d been gleefully anticipating this show for months – how did this slip by me? Where is the oversight in the Watchmaker’s Universe? Who does one blame when there is no obvious person at fault? Work. Duty. Obligation. Not for the first time, this dead-eyed trio had conspired to trample my desires underfoot, sublimating my dreams in their uncaring service of the real world’s needs. No matter how old you believe you are, you double over at the realization that you have become too old to live the life you envisioned for yourself when you were young. When the soundtrack of your life involves a clattering printer, discussions about next week’s schedule, the minutes of staff meetings -- that is depressing; when you realize this soundtrack has grown so overpowering that you have so lost yourself in the quotidian sameness of it, you’ve forgotten any other life -- that is devastating. This is how hermits die: Smothered in a cocoon of insanity, another uniform layer built up laboriously with the passing of another uniform day; unconscious and yet active participants in their own destruction. And in this moment of great despair, knowing for the first time since I was ten years old that Geddy Lee could not come to save me, I wept, under the impartial fluorescent lights of corporate America. “Philosophers and ploughmen, each must know his part. To sow a new mentality, closer to the heart.” I can not explain where the voice came from; I do not care to. I heard the words, delivered in the clear, nasally tones I had come to love for all their quirks and nuances. And what matters more is that I felt the words, as if this was the first time the song had been sung, and that the song was written solely so that I would know it. “You can be the captain, I will draw the chart. Sailing into destiny,” -- and at this moment the flesh on the back of my neck rippled in anticipation of that voice rising and cracking into that same howl of youth that I now felt stirring inside – “Closer to the heart.” In the long, drawn-out cry of that single line, I knew that once again, Geddy Lee, the enigmatic lead singer of Rush, had saved my life.