Thirty years ago, I had tickets to see The Who as part of their Reunion Tour in Toronto, except I never got to use them. My father, without consulting me first, committed me to work the night of the concert. I was apocalyptic, with an extra dash of over dramatization, as only a 20 year old can pull off. How did he not understand that this was the very last time The Who would tour? Like ever?!
Technically I could have blown off work, but it was a brand-new job that my father had pulled strings to get for me. My conscience would not let me be irresponsible. It was one of the first times I had to look adulthood squarely in the eyes and I did not like what I saw. Unfortunately for my Dad, hell hath no fury like a young person forced to make adult decisions for the first time. I laid the blame at his feet and sulked, rather than admit it was the right thing to do.
Dad, please accept this as my official apology.
The Who first tipped their hat to the new revolution when I was a toddler, but from the moment I was introduced to them in my teen years, they became the voice of my adolescent rebellion. I remember practically spitting the words “I hope I d-d-die before I get old!” while belting out My Generation underage drinking at a local watering hole. The feeling was so visceral that to this day I can practically taste the disdain I had for becoming an adult.
Needless to say, when I finally was able to see The Who thirty years later in Madison Square Garden, I wasn’t quite the same person. When Roger Daltry asked, “Who the fuck are you?” to a sold out crowd, I confidently had the answer to that question for the first time in my life. I am brimming with a self-confidence that can only be acquired through years of living.
Listening to Daltry and Townsend play, I was struck how the words that fueled me as a teen, had taken on new meaning as a middle-aged mom to two. As with most concerts I attend, I had a series of a-ha moments while letting the music of my youth wash over me. This concert was no different and I left with three key takeaways.
The first, and perhaps the most important thing I’ve come to understand in the last thirty years is that aging and getting old are not one and the same.
Old is a state of mind that makes you crotchety, closed to new ideas, and stale. Aging is just science sweetheart. You can do both if you insist, but why would you? As I barrel towards the half century mark this year, I am currently living the best of both worlds, I still feel like I’m 20 but with 30 years of experience backing me up. So when The Who played My Generation, I genuinely still felt that I wanted to die before I get old. Age to 100 yes, get old, never.
Thirty years ago, I felt like the world was coming to an end because I had to miss a concert. I had no idea what life had in store for me. I could not have predicted that I would get married, have two beautiful daughters, get divorced, meet my soul mate, and end up in New York City seeing The Who with him. I wouldn’t change a thing, but at 20 I was chasing what I felt society expected of me, at 50 I’ve learned it doesn’t matter what others expect, only what I expect of myself. I won’t get fooled again.
The third thing I’ve come to understand, is that no matter what they say, it’s never, ever, the final concert. I can see for miles and miles, and I know I’ll see you again The Who.