Last Tuesday Bestie and I went to see Henry Rollins Speak at the CBC in Toronto. This was the third time we had seen him together; the fourth I had seen him. I was looking for some inspiration, and I left wondering if I had.
Not that he was bad or anything; he was amazing. Speaking, without a break for 2 /1/2 hours. We laughed; we cried (with laughter) and at times we got sobered up pretty quickly, especially when he spoke about some of the people he has met on his travels. I tend to agree with his ideals and his general outlook on life, but I wondered if the same person who wrote such angry rant-filled books in the 80's and 90's still existed. If the same reason why I was drawn to him as a 20 year-old depressed and lonely girl who was struggling with her racial idenity and her place in the world, were still relevant to my early-Forties self.
But that talk seemed robotic. For the first part, he seemed to be staring at the back of the room, which caused me and a few people in the front row to turn around and wonder who he was talking to. But as time went on he was more relaxed, and his gaze scanned the large room. But you knew what he was talking about was the same as what was said in Chicago and New York City. Sure, it was personallized, as he reapeatedly said how much he loved us kind and welcoming Canadian folk, but there was a sense that he was dialing it in. There was meaning behind the words and we left satisfied, but it was like eating expensive Chinese food: At first you feel full and satisfied, but an hour later, you are hungry for more.
I've said this before and I still beleive in this: Despite being depressing as hell, his early works, such as Art to Choke Hearts and Now Watch Him Die saved my life. I learned about self-determination and the imporance of believing in oneself ( especially when no one else seemed to). I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started to turn my self-imposed misery into rage.....'positive' rage that is, into being productive. Beleiving in myself and doing what I want to do, instead of simply doing what others expected of me...which was not much.
Today, I can't say that I'm perfect and have always acheived the above tenets, but I try. I've followed Rollins's career and silently applauded all of the acting / cable TV hosting jobs, but I wondered if that sense of DIY ethic - even though he adamantly stated he still has - is still there. Has age and opportunities quelled that inner rage that fuelled him from being a broke-ass punk singer into a career which allows him to profit off his persona? Is it even fair to question this?
I don't know. I know that bouts of depression or doubt are easily quelled when I channel the energy I have on focusing on my misery into doing something productive, but I also know that with age comes a bit of complaceny. I do want to bask in my succeses, to not have to work so hard ( but I'm not at that point yet), but I don't want to lose what I learned from Rollins books. After listening to him speak, I really was fearful of that.