As if you needed a reason to love Bruce Springsteen more? Well here it is…. The boss has released his autobiography and it’s amazing.
Born to Run is Springsteen’s account of his life and career, so it’s quite lengthy. At about 500 pages plan to set aside a pretty decent chunk of time to get through this one. However, it’s written simply and to the point using analogies for life and life’s lessons that are both interesting and humorous. Bruce has had a career that has spanned over 4 decades so there is a lot to cover and he covers all of it, in short well separated chapters. He focuses mainly on his work and music, but starts to delve more into his personal life when he gets to his early 30’s and starts to suffer from depression and anxiety that he sought professional help for. He mentions at some time the emotional issues one has become too hard to run from anymore and you have to own up to them, they come scratching at your door and you have no choice. Yes, this all sounds familiar (cough cough everybody). Another reason why I adore reading biographies of people that we cast the spell of celebrity on is that you get to see them for who they are, and see into the other side of what fame is, and how people get there. Many of us will never know this phenomenon, and some may be sad for that but others may think themselves lucky. Many people who end up in the spotlight had no intention to wind up there and the weight, scrutiny and pressure of it can be enormous.
There’s this great monkey suit analogy he uses to describe his avoidance of life that hit especially home to me. Like this grand moment of clarity he comes to about the realness of things somewhere in his early 30’s:
Robert De Niro once said he loved acting because you got to live other lives without the consequences. I lived a new life every night. Each evening you are a new man in a new town with all of life and life’s possibilities spread out before you. For much of my life I’d vainly sought to re-create this feeling every… single… day. Perhaps it’s the curse of the imaginative mind. Or perhaps it’s just the “running” in you. You simply can’t stop imagining other worlds, other loves, other places than the one you are comfortably set in at any moment, the one holding all your treasures. Those treasures can seem so easily made gray by the vast open and barren spaces of the creative mind. Of course, there is but one life. Nobody likes that.. but there’s just one. And we’re lucky to have it. God bless us and have mercy on us that we may have the understanding and the abilities to live it… and know the “possibility of everything”… is just “nothing” dressed up in a monkey suit… and I’d had the best monkey suit in town (Springsteen, 2016, p. 274).
How good is that? There’s so much in that one little paragraph. That moment when you stop shooting for some unrealistic fantasy of a future and realize that everything that you ever wanted was really right in front of you the whole time. We have so much in our lives and within ourselves but often we miss out on enjoying it reaching for some future, past or both. It’s good to strive for great things, but if you are living in your imagination and the stories in your head you will miss out on what’s real and in front of you. So, take off your monkey suit and enjoy it while you got it and check out this read if you are so inclined. Here’s a link to the publisher’s page:
Springsteen, B. (2016). Born to Run. New York: Simon & Schuster.