Author: Alvira, Marco

Dude in Crisis

Iím going though a mid-life crisis; Iím almost sure of it. I love blond womenómy wife and daughter. I love fast carsóI sometimes get my 1999 Expedition up to 65 mph when Iím towing my trailer. Drugs and alcohol fill my lifeís spare momentsóAdvil after I run, and cough syrup for that winter croup. Okay, itís not the type of mid-life crisis that one might normally expect. Nonetheless, Iím going through a mid-life crisis.

I think the first symptoms were when my life took a sudden left hand turn and dove into bluegrass. I was about 48 years old and I was done coaching baseball, driving kids to ballet and plays, and realized that my career should not be the defining signature of my life. So I bought a Martin and started playing the music that I had listened to on and off throughout my entire life. Music became my mistress and my wife became widowed. Heck, being the cad that I am, I even bought a new Collings mandolin while she lay in the hospital after a heart procedure. Now, itís things like that that might give guys in a bar cause to raise their glasses and shout, ďWay to be a man,Ē but that was a bit boorish even for a dude in crisis.

I donít know what causes this crisis. Maybe itís a biological imperative buried deep within the male genetic memory that commands us to go out and multiply, to show our might and bravado to the younger beast before weíre carted off to the bone yard. I have acquaintances who have responded to this primordial call with extra marital affairs, bar fights, dramatic wardrobe and life style changes, and of course, the ubiquitous sports car (or Harley). Maybe I should have my testosterone levels checked, but I have responded to the call with an unceasing quest for tone, melody, rhythm, and late night festival jams. Advancing arthritis in my hands even prevents me from playing my instruments with the ferocity necessary to keep up with the young Turks piking at late at night. If this were the Savannah and we were lions, I would that old lion king of the jungle, banished from the pride, wandering alone in world of tall dry grass, without a home, and no one to call me daddy (wait, I think that was a Hank Williams song).

Another tell tale sign of the middle age crisis has been the desire to see old friends and visit places that had long been dusty fixtures in my memory. Through a variety of coincidences this summer, Iíve had the chance to visit friends and family that I hadnít seen since I feathered my hair and wore wide collars. Amid all the revelry, however, a chilling, almost morbid realization came to me. As many of you know, my oldest and dearest friend, Ron, quite suddenly passed away in April. He suffered a lethally massive and unexpected heart attack at work. Weíd been the closest of chums since 1963. His beautiful wife spent quite a bit of time with my wife and me in June and we reminisced about the many wonderful times our families had spent together. Later that summer, I went on a seven day, 25 mile backpack trip that Ron and I had planned before he passed. The trail I hiked was one that we had trekked together 30 years before. The last week of July, my wife and I went on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Ron and I had been planning a trip to Alaska with our spouses, but by car and trailer instead. As you might suspect, we had worked in those northern latitudes many, many years before. It was while on the deck of the ship one evening, while smoking my pipe and sipping a fine Scotch that I realized that I had spent the summer chasing ghostsóthat is, the memory of my long lost friend the youthful times we had spent together.

I resolved that night, on the starboard deck, not to spend the last third of my life solely reliving old memories. Knowing how fast the years really pass, my remaining time is too precious to go out quietly or to waste it on foolish, vain things. I have the urge to build something that will stand the test of time. My departed friends and family are not coming back. The Hayward of my youth will never exist again. To dwell on those memories would be like singing the same songs over and over until repetition makes them dull and meaningless. There are many new tunes yet to be added to my playlist.

Posted:  9/2/2012

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