Saturday, November 24, 2012

Punk's not Dead, It's just Getting Older

Aging and rock n' roll don't go well together. When I listen to the music I love, especially old punk songs that nobody around me cares about anymore, I feel hopelessly doomed to a world where I keep getting older and the punk kids stay the same age.

Tonight Ted Leo, a DC punk hero, is playing an all ages benefit show and I'm dying to go. I don't hang out with many people that care anymore. My heart breaks to every drum beat. It wakes me up to every sprouting grey hair.

When I was about 20 years old I got free tickets to a Ramones show. I showed up with this girl and we laughed
about all these old guys in leather jackets reliving their glory days. I remember shouting over to her, "that's going to be us one day!"

That guy in the old leather jacket is me now. Sometimes it feels like the world has no use for an aging punk in a city where so many punks became government employees, or had kids, or moved to Virginia and moved on.

This reminds me of something Noah Levine from Dharma Punx said: "you have a personality, it comes through, it's conditioned, it's completely part of you. It's not your true identity." 

I was just listening to a podcast from On Being. The host, Krista Tippet, was talking about how life has a way of forcing you to lean into who you really are when you reach middle age. Some people end up in a mid-life crisis. Many people also learn to deal with it gracefully. 

Losing My Edge
I have a choice. I can deny the fact that I'm aging and try to pretend I'm younger. Or I can love the music that I love and let it break my heart every time I listen to it.

Letting the world break your heart is what the Buddhist path is all about. We develop the strength to live with full hearts.

We take that broken hearted feeling and let it wake us up to the way things are. It helps us empathize with others, to extend compassion towards all sentient beings, and to do what is needed.

To be clear, I'm going to keep going to shows. When I feel that pang in my heart, upon realizing I'm no spring chicken anymore, I'm going to lean into that pain. Perhaps I'll find ways to appreciate the music even more this way.

By the way, this post has a soundtrack. The lyrics are full of beautiful secret dharmas:


  1. Perhaps you need to flip this? You still can lean into doing silly things like going to punk shows. Maybe those "old" guys at shows aren't reliving their glory days, but are still living them?! And maybe living them more fully because they now are moved more by the music. Of course, just because you go to a show doesn't mean that your aging body has to party like a rock star. But wouldn't that - doing what you like - be what aging gracefully is about?

    1. Actually, I agree with you. I don't think going to a punk show is a silly thing to do. I'm not sure what would be silly. I guess that is different for everyone and I don't want to judge. I fully intend to keep on going to shows and loving the music all the more for having experienced a bit more of the bitter sweet beauty that the songs represent.

    2. And one more clarification... those "old" guys I was laughing at in my 20s... I'm not laughing anymore. Now i'm laughing at the 20 year old me!