Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun

Jimmy Page

In my much younger and wilder days, and even today as a father of three, a wide range of music continues to influence my interest in the written word. While I never played guitar, before the advent of a lot of the electronic special effects, I prided myself in being able to discern the difference between a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Stratocaster, or many of the other guitars on the market. I dabbled in bass guitar and as a drummer, and the result of my fascination also caused me to examine lyrics, and then the sources that influenced those lyrics, such as poetry, classical literature, and sacred texts of various religions. While this then begat some really, really bad attempts at writing my own, I was thankfully dissuaded by the lack of patience and the lack of funds (instructors cost money), and I abandoned one of my dreams, that of being a musician.

Change and our reaction to change has considerable influence on writers. Change in relationships, change in perspectives, change in our surrounding environments, and many other changes keep us busy observing, noting, and elaborating on the human condition throughout these times. Our psychological approach to change, however, has changed little over the course of the millennia. We may believe something to be true and enduring only to find it not so later, and the discovery of this is often painful. In constancy there is a perception of security, because change is largely of the unknown. But staying the same to avoid that unknown doesn’t bring safety- in fact, as time moves on, staying may be more perilous than going. There is that ever present analogy of the man and the burning oil rig platform: stay and be burned to death, jump into the sea and drown or die from hypothermia. Choices aren’t always so dire, but hesitation to “jump” doesn’t make the decision easier, it just postpones the inevitable. The environment is going to change one way or another, like it or not.

However, the dilemma, as I discussed with a friend, is that it isn’t as simple as this. You may say, “What is simple as the decision to die one way versus the other?” And my answer would be that it really requires context. If we decide, for example, to stay and help others through the danger? Or go because we have loved ones that need our support at home? She said to me that sometimes there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity, and I certainly agree. What may sound like a good idea may go badly. Or what was a stupid idea becomes the most honorable moment of your life? There’s no black or white, no wrong or right. One thing leads to another, and we can only hope to live through the experiences in order to learn from them.

Deciding not to pursue my dreams of being a musician were difficult at the time, but in hindsight, I realize that my talents definitely lay elsewhere. Maybe the true sign of strength is realizing your limitations and making the appropriate decisions based on those observations. If that is the case, you certainly can’t begrudge the decision later. You make decisions based on the facts you are presented. If you had more insight to the future then, maybe, you’d decide differently. The decision to not pursue your dreams is just that: a decision. Just like my decision to eat an apple I sliced on a cutting board I used for onions earlier, I am certainly not happy with the result, but had I realized what the result would be, I’d have acted on it.  I definitely won’t make that decision wrong the next time.

You can decide to change and face the possibility of failure. You can decide to stay and face the possibility that failure will catch up to you anyway. Change is going to happen. The question is going to be, do you want to create the future or be controlled by it? Look forward, see the potential, and create change.

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