More Than A Feeling

In 1976, Boston released their self-titled debut album. I was 12. The first track on side one is “More Than A Feeling.” Tom Scholz (who was a complete geek and an engineer who became a rock & roll demi god) sings about it being more than a feeling when he hears some old song they used to play. More than a feeling when he remembers people who have come and gone. More than a feeling when he’s tired and thinking cold and hides in his music. More than a feeling.

I was 12. I had no idea what Scholz was talking about, but it was rock & roll and it was awesome.

There weren’t any “old” songs for me. Not many people had come and gone in my life. I wasn’t yet tired and wanting to hide from my world. But I’m not 12 anymore and these things have all become true for me. I hear songs, like “More Than A Feeling,” and sort of get lost for a moment. I routinely run into the memory of a person I knew and loved that is no longer here. I know what it feels like to be tired and thinking cold. It is more than a feeling.

Scholz’s song is filled with regret and longing for something that can’t be regained. Sometimes our lives get that way too. We get bogged down by loss and disappointment and it actually alters us and our perception of the world around us. It isn’t just a feeling anymore, it becomes our life.

It is healthy for me to acknowledge that this happens. It is healthy to allow myself to feel these feelings and visit these places. It is not healthy for me to live there.

About now you are probably thinking, “What is he talking about?”

This weekend the boys and I started working on our 1969 Mustang. It brought back a lot of memories. Working on late 60’s cars in the driveway out in the sun. Rough concrete against your back with dirt and gas dripping on you from above. I remembered my dad showing me how to rebuild the drum brakes on my 65 Chevelle in our driveway on 26th Street. I remembered friends who have gone, days that can’t be relived and youth that has faded. For a moment or two I was sad.

Then I realized that I was overlaying those old memories with new ones. Attaching new people and new experiences to those objects. In this case, working with my boys on a sunny day in the driveway (shocks, not brakes, but the brakes are next…) From now on, when I am reminded of those things there will be another feeling layered in.

This changes the way I experience other “old” memories. I know I can add to them and alter them in ways that maintains the memory but softens the longing. As I do this, I find myself looking forward to creating new memories around things that are meaningful to me. Building them into better feelings rather than just living in the worn-out home of the past.

Scholz was right. It is more than a feeling. It is life. Life that is meant to be lived, not re-lived.