Jim and Me: The Twenty-First of October 2009

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21st October 2009, A Starbucks in a Galaxy Far, Far Away (Tottenham Court Road).

Today is the first day of my life. Today, I am older than Jim Morrison for the first time. I will now always be older than Jim. I will always have outlived him. I don’t know why it’s a big deal. Generationally speaking, he’s still the same thirty-nine years ahead. In a way, he will always be ahead of me (and of course, out of reach) but from now on, I will always be older.

Maybe I care because he’s the great personification of rejected, freakish youth. He’s not David Cassidy or one of Take That or some nice young man your mother would love for you to take home. Jim is always young and always mostly dangerous. He’s not unpredictable anymore, but he’s not safe. He’ll never be safe. He never could be safe. But now… I must face up to the fact that I am older than him. Every day of my life has been spent getting further away from him and what he means and represents to me… but now it’s a two-pronged offensive. He is always getting further away from me as the past gets further and further away: he is now dead thirty-eight years… but now I am also growing older and away from the mercurial, ever youthful Adonis.

This is the kid who said “Once you make your peace with authority, you become an authority.” I happen to think that had he lived, he wouldn’t have given in and would’ve remained on the outside, sneering in… and if he had sold out, I wouldn’t care any more anyway. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t personally see myself becoming normal like the normal people, or giving in to the dark night of mediocre middle age… but I can’t be sure. As I get further away from Jim, perhaps I will get further away from myself.

That’s not the only thing. Jim achieved everything he achieved in less time than I’ve had to do fuck all. My time to make a difference is running out. I don’t assume that we’re the same – I’ve always felt like I’m on a slightly different timeline to everyone else anyway – but it’s a bit of a mindblast to think that everything I love about his work was done in this amount of time that I’ve already had on earth. God, the time I’ve WASTED! Playing stupid games, lying in bed, sleeping, eating, watching the same movies over and over again, the same TV shows, the same old same old same old same old same old. My life so far has been a study in applied laziness, and the effort I’ve spent to do nothing was probably more than I’d need to do something. But I’m not there. I haven’t created yet. I haven’t shaken people and I haven’t made them think. To judge myself against Jim, I am an absolute, complete failure.

On the other hand, and in seeking the silver lining, this gets to be the first day of my life. After this, I cannot judge myself against him in the same way again. After this, that strange little connection is gone. Maybe from today I’ll have to fend for myself and put him away. Just as well that I found Rory last year, so that I might have another hero to draw inspiration from – I won’t have to worry about outliving him until 2030. If I haven’t done what I feel I need (and should) do by then, it really will be too late.

It also means something else: I’ve survived. Every day that I live after this one will be a tiny victory of my greater angels over my lesser demons (and they really are lesser). This is the victory of Good Clare over Evil Clare. I haven’t drunk myself to death. I haven’t thrown myself under a fast-moving vehicle. I have got out of bed today. I am smiling today (just a little). Every day from now on, I’ve managed something that my hero, my old friend and companion through the darkness, could not do. I suppose, if I manage to make myself look at it this way: I won. I may have failed when compared to Jim, but I have won (mostly) when compared to Jimbo.

Of course, there’s another way to look at it: every day is another day closer to seeing him, at last. Whether in heaven or hell, I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be heaven without him and hell couldn’t be eternal torment if I spent it with him and the other lost boys.

I wrote, for a character of mine the following remark:

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My life is coloured entirely, permanently, by his betrayal of himself.”

And that’s true for me. I took it out of the story it belonged to not because it wasn’t true, but because it was too true. Every moment of my life whether I knew it or not, has been the way it was in part because Jim Morrison, that drunken bastard in the leather trousers, was dead. Were he alive today, my life would not be as it is. I don’t say it would be better or worse: I have no way of knowing. Maybe a few more days and nights would’ve been spent smiling instead of furiously shaking a fist at the unseen heavens, cursing anyone I could find to blame.

I will love that man and his work for the rest of my life, and beyond that too, probably. I am who I am and the way I am in part because of him – for better or worse. The hook is in too deep to remove completely but maybe – maybe today is the first day of a life spent a little less in the dark shadows of morbidity and a little more in the bright golden sunshine of being alive.

Chance would be a fine thing.

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2 Responses to Jim and Me: The Twenty-First of October 2009

  1. ashleigh_713 says:

    Hi, sweetie. I hope I can say this in the way that I mean…okay here goes. For one thing, it is never too late to make a huge difference in the world. It could happen your last day living or breathing, or it could happen after you’ve gone on to be whatever going on is to you. For me, that subject changes nearly by the minute.

    Then there’s the subject of morbidity, depression, feelings of not being_____ enough. Or too much.Somewhere along the line you have to decide which kind of creative you’re going to be. I remember once moaning to a friend about our mutual friend, a super talented person in many areas, that A was never happy (and believe me, I did everything I could to make him happy). T fairly gently made me see that for A, happiness as I saw it was sort of the death of creativity, or at least creativity was put on the back burner. Part of me will always think I can’t be talented, etc. because I can’t maintain discontent, morbidity, deep darkness. I’ve finally settled on melancholia, because you can have it and still be optimistic.

    Over the summer, a singer/songwriter I’m fond of mentioned Jim, since he has been compared to Jim in the past. He’s now been sober for over two years, but said after becoming sober, his biggest fear was that he would have lost that Jim Morrison edge of darkness, artistic feeling and “artsy fartsy” quality. He says that hasn’t been the case and that he feels really good about his recent songs, that they’re to the point, in your face, clocking in under four minutes, but he’s still trying to say the least complicated things in the most complicated way.

    I haven’t heard these songs yet, but it’s going to be interesting, though I have to admit some apprehension. Anyway, I do that too, with the simple things, and I think maybe you do too. I also overthink (working on that)
    and possibly you do too. I kind of thought Brian sharedthat quality with me, but recently even he told me I should just stop thinking and go with it.

    This is a long example of me trying to say, in a very complicated way, that you beat up on yourself way too much and you shouldn’t, because the world out there is gonna so that for you. So to hell with depth and meaningful, want to join me and just live, shallow or deep.

    Considering Jim’s life, the times he lived in, the people surrounding him, I’m pretty sure a fair amount of his time was spent not on creating things to make a difference, but just going with whathe thought would give him what he wanted.

    Love to you always.

    • apollarock says:

      Hello darlin’!

      This is a long example of me trying to say, in a very complicated way, that you beat up on yourself way too much and you shouldn’t, because the world out there is gonna so that for you. So to hell with depth and meaningful, want to join me and just live, shallow or deep.

      Yes, I know it will. It already does, in its way. And the deep/shallow thing… I’ve always been a fan of the shallow trivial stuff – i think it often reveals more than the deep stuff.

      I’m personally doing better in a lot of ways than I was during the times when all I could do was listen to or think about the Doors (you remember some of it, I’m sure). I don’t think I ever wanted my work to be necessarily like his, but I always wanted to matter the way he did to me, you know? I’ve written a bunch of stuff recently – the most prolific I’ve ever been.

      What I hope is that now I can just… use this as an excuse to stop measuring myself against him because I was always, always going to fall short. Even if I scale some great creative height, I’m never going to consider it in the same league as him because he’s my hero and that skews a person’s perspective. The rest of the WORLD could tell me that *something of mine* is better than *something of his* and I would disagree.

      As for happiness at the expense of creativity? I think that’s bollocks and always has been. Everyone is different, but to be unhappy to be creative is crap. Is happiness in some forms distracting? Yes. But one doesn’t have to be miserable to be creative. In fact, I do less, and less well, when I’m in the deep trough. I don’t think Jim was depressed or particularly unhappy when he did his best work, come to that. It was the drink that did for him.

      Considering Jim’s life, the times he lived in, the people surrounding him, I’m pretty sure a fair amount of his time was spent not on creating things to make a difference, but just going with whathe thought would give him what he wanted

      I think it’s sadder than that: I think he did what he thought the world wanted, and it turned on him and just demanded a spectacle. They stopped listening and started braying. It’s really fucking sad what happened to him if you stop and think about it. And now, he’s the punchline to a joke.

      his biggest fear was that he would have lost that Jim Morrison edge of darkness, artistic feeling and “artsy fartsy” quality.

      Good for him on being sober, but to me, the Jim Morrison Edge of Darkness is a myth anyway. It always has been. It doesn’t help that we didn’t see what a sober Morrison would’ve created, but as I’ve always maintained that the likes of him and Clapton and anyone else with a drink/drug problem in music created their great works IN SPITE of their chemicals, not because of them. I might be wrong, and it’s true that some works would be different, but not necessarily worse. Jim didn’t do ‘dark’ well because he was stoned, it was because he was a widely-read and intelligent young man!

      If I believed that LSD really was the key to the kingdom, I’d have run to Camden years ago.

      Being miserable is easy. Being happy is hard. For me, anyway, but I’m trying and in a strange and unexpected way, the Doors are helping. And now I’ve outlived him, maybe I can push that particular shadow away.

      I’m being long-winded again. Must be something about him that brings out my verbosity.

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