Losing sight of the frivolous

Published 6:30 pm Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Avett Brothers are playing a show at The Wharf in Orange Beach in March. I just learned of the show Thursday night and I am set on going. I could listen to The Avetts for hours on end. I am a big fan of their music.

But the question was posed to me by a friend whether or not I wanted to get the standing room only general admission tickets. I hesitated.

Throughout my concert rich 20s, general admission was the only way to go. Get the GA seats. Get there as early as possible Get down front. Sing the songs aloud with thousands of friends you just met. Get loud. Get sweaty. Have a blast. Go home with plenty of memories.

Email newsletter signup

But, as of Friday, I’m not in my 20s anymore. Now, when I hear “general admission,” I think of smelly college kids. They are usually drunk. Often smoking some of those funny smelling cigarettes that are not entirely legal.

Frequently, they are rubbing on one another in a manner that, when I was growing up, was usually relegated to late night Cinemax flicks.

When I hear “general admission” now, I think of being uncomfortable. I think of being sweaty. Crowded. My feet hurting. Getting an unwanted contact high. Smelling like beer even though I don’t drink.

I picture this really big party I didn’t want to go to full of people I didn’t want to invite. And my gut reaction is simple. No. No I don’t want general admission tickets.

Throughout my 20s, I wanted to be as close to the stage as possible. Now, I’d prefer not to damage my hearing with the over-cranked amps set up by a road crew that really has no sense of how music should sound.

Where I formerly wanted to be in the thick of the crowd, I now like to think of carving out my own space somewhere near the back. As far away from other people as I could possibly be without being outside the venue itself.

I’m not sure if the change came in a gradual process or if I rolled over one morning and just found myself stodgy.

But it is clear that I am well on my way down the path toward becoming a codger of a man. And that is just fine with me.

I woke up Friday morning to my pregnant wife singing me “Happy Birthday.” I answered the phone to birthday greetings from my mother-in-law. I called my mom. I rolled over and looked at my two dogs curled up on their beds, trying to stay warm.

And as the sunlight of a beautiful day burst through the bedroom windows and illuminated the room, two things occurred to me. First, I am more blessed than I think I have ever deserved to be. Secondly, I cannot imagine wanting anything other than what I have right in front of me.

As a child, birthdays were about cake and ice cream and presents. As a teenager, they were about opening the cards from relatives and finding the money. Even in my 20s, I approached them with anticipation of some sort of special attention.

Now, they are about reflecting. The cake and the ice cream is nice. The presents are appreciated. And the attention from friends and family is humbling.

But they are really about reflecting on how far I’ve come as a person and how far I still need to go.

So I don’t know if I want those general admission tickets anymore. But I still enjoy being surrounded by the music. And I still want to be at the show. And I am just fine with the fact that I no longer get caught up in the frivolous details like being close to the stage or taking the money out of the card. Being a little older and a little wiser just means that I can appreciate each experience more for what it is. A chance to listen and reflect.