Older, Wiser, Stronger

by Jesse Romo

The army was growing. Spurred on by the consistent, relentless ticking of the clock, he knew it was time to push on. The music was there and he’d stood up to the heat of the spotlights, but the dream still hadn’t turned into reality.

He could feel it – it was within his grasp – but as he reached out he noticed that his hands were becoming weathered. The path had taken its toll on him, and the things he sacrificed lay beyond the burning bridges he’d left in his wake. The lost loves, the missed opportunities and the memories that would never be formed had beaten and bruised him, but he still walked onwards.

He’d matured like a wine; growing in body and complexity with each passing year. He’d learned many things, and some of the lessons were unforgiving and cruel. That first time he stepped into the recording studio, funded by money he’d skimped and saved, he’d learnt his lesson the hard way. Scammed and drained of his limited resources, it had been a baptism of fire.

Now he knew what to look for in an engineer, and more importantly, he knew how to deconstruct pieces of art. What were once whole songs, with the various elements coalescing together to produce an overall feeling, he saw as layered, textured collections of individual parts interacting with complexity; beautiful, unique and interwoven.

The messages hidden beneath the lines shone out strong and clear, screaming to him from space between the beats.

But true wisdom reveals some harsh truths. He wanted to ignore them, to see what had happened so far as something normal and acceptable. People still expected him to turn around at any moment – they were waiting on the other side of the fork in the road, the great, cracked and rusted division bell that splits the dreamers away from the common people.

But it was too late for him; the music had fused with his soul long ago; thinking back, it was at the foot of the Joshua tree all that time ago, when his hands didn’t seem so weathered. The reality was impossible to ignore, he had to push ahead, and with no options around him – he had to build his own empire and recruit his own army. The storm-winds began to blow.

The invisible hand guiding us doesn’t lead us all the same way, nor at the same speed. The reality of that is too much for some to accept – there is no justice in the sense we might all hope. Sometimes, it feels like there is no hand; that we’re walking our paths all alone, trekking through the darkness looking for something we’ve never seen before.

This gives us strength. The betrayals, the tragedies, the failures, the abandonment and the friends and comrades who’ve left us behind, they really give us the power we need to stand up to whatever life hurls our way.

We can only rely on ourselves, he thought, as he continued down his chosen path. The decisions made at those fateful forks cursed him to this life, giving up everything – family, girlfriends, friends, money and jobs – all for the reward he hoped was waiting for him at the end of the path. OLDER, WISER, STRONGER, he knew he had the power to make it. The ignorance of society and the apathetic masses couldn’t drag him back; even in his lowest moments he knew it would be worth it.

It had to be worth it.