Monthly Archives: January 2003

Rite of Passage

Indulge me for a minute with the lyrics to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High.

He was born in the Summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he’d never been before.
He left yesterday behind him; you might say he was born again.
You might say he found a key for every door.

This song is about a guy who starts a new life. What was his old life like? Who knows. But that life was just a precursor because, at age 27, he was reborn. That probably means a lot of different things to different people: finding a new group of friends; starting a new career using latent talents; living in an entirely different culture.

But for me the attraction of the song was not that my circumstances might change, but that I might change. Something happens — a new person, place, or experience — that causes a break with the old, and a new me is born. The troubles that defined my life so far are the fault of the previous guy, not me. I’m starting from right here, and I’ve got a clean slate. Rocky Mountain High said I could look to the future — to hope for the future — because people can change. You can be someone new, even as late as age 27.

But I can no longer take comfort in this song’s promise of a brand new day dawning at age 27. I’m 28.

I know a few more age-related songs, but none that deal with my current stretch of life. The best I can do is start looking forward to a few years from now when David Wilcox’s song, Glory, will be able to offer some consolation:

In the big, boring middle of your long book of life
After you pass 32
If you don’t die in glory at the age of Christ
Then your story is still coming true.

After that, it’s The Beatles with When I’m 64