Thursday, June 24, 2010


During my college days, my roommate was a huge Rush fan.  I get that liking Rush dates me in a certain way, but that's me.  Neil Peart is a machine, Geddy Lee has a tenor range through the stratosphere, and their songwriting is outstanding.  In any case, this morning I pulled out the "Roll the Bones" CD (no, I haven't converted all of my CDs to digital, I hate FM tuners, and won't spend the green to upgrade my car radio).

Bravado came up, one of my favorites; here are the lyrics:

If we burn our wings/Flying too close to the sun
If the moment of glory/Is over before it's begun
If the dream is won/Though everything is lost
We will pay the price/But we will not count the cost

When the dust has cleared/And victory denied
A summit too lofty/River a little too wide
If we keep our pride/Though paradise is lost
We will pay the price/But we will not count the cost

And if the music stops/ There's only the sound of the rain
All the hope and glory/ All the sacrifice in vain
And if love remains/ Though everything is lost
We will pay the price/ But we will not count the cost.

Why does this song ring relevant to me today?  What else is parenting, if not paying the price without counting the cost?  Of course, I doubt most of us look at the price, but let's examine.  You're a clueless 20-,30-,40-something with your bachelor-couple's lifestyle.  You go out when (and WHERE) you want, wake up when you want, vacation wherever, and deal with childish behavior only insofar as you or your friends and families manifest it.

AFTER children?  Reverse everything - it's Opposite Day.  Up at 6 AM, eating at Friendly's, trekking to see the Lowell Spinners and missing the whole game so your kids can hang out in the carnival section instead of moaning about how bored they are with the game (the reason YOU'RE there?)...avoiding 5 star restaurants, no more serene weekends at a bed-and-breakfast (without imposing on the grandparents) more 2 AM poker games or nights with the girls, or at least fewer without the pained look on your spouse's face on your return...

That's not to mention pregnancy - morning sickness, the disappearance of your pre-pregnancy body, the disappearance of modesty (amazing what a few pregnancy checks and a birth do to that personality trait), the pain of sleep...crying for ? reason...a new addiction to coffee?

Have any of you counted the cost?  Apart from maybe wistfully recalling lazy Saturdays?  I'd bet not.

The song's reference to Icarus recalls the hubris of the young Greek boy, but I say bring on the hubris, bring on the mammoth responsibilities of parenthood.  Does any parent say, "Man, I've got this great kid, but hooooooowwwwwwwweeeee it wasn't worth it.  My life really sucks now?"  Do we sigh and shake our heads sometimes as we watch our kids do something "their way," all while we watch, knowing that they are square-peg-round-hole-ing a task?  Sure, but we love the game!

We reach for the sun and dare our wax to melt, for "if love remains" at the end of the day, and it always does, "we will pay the price."  Anything requiring real labor, emotional or physical, is worth the number on the price tag, not just parenting.  I remember talking to my mother after my grandfather passed away about how she was there with him at every step, during every hospitalization, through rehab, through his sad decline away from the Rock we had known in the prime of his life.  I doubt I fully grasp the price she paid, but pay it she did.  She'd do it again, and what a selfless act it was.

Is the song about bravado, "a false show of courage?"  Some might look at the song and feel that Rush's point is that we are foolish to take on impossible tasks and Sisyphean trials, that we should pack away anything requiring vision and perseverance, and sit back with a cold one to watch the evening news?  How much easier to sit back, point at those sweating and bleeding, and say, "Wow, I guess you really blew that one?"

I don't think Rush intended a cynical tone.  As long as love remains, the "means justifies the end", exactly the way some philosophers define the good life.  Let's not take it too far, though.  I wouldn't try to climb the "summit too lofty" of my 3 kids at the Ritz's fanciest restaurant.  But "all the sacrifice in vain?"  Surely not.  Live it, run your fingers through it, EAT it.  It's only fun if you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Villages raise kids - so post a comment and populate this village!