If your pandemic is/was anything like mine, it’s been quite an introspective year. It’s as though all my past recollections needed in order to resurface was a clear schedule. An empty movie theater, that’s what the mind becomes in such isolation. The world outside is shut down for all intents and purposes, and we’ve been locked in a movie theater. The theater has a library of film reels for you to project for your viewing pleasure, but unfortunately, all the reels are memories, good and bad. That’s what the isolation of this year has brought to the forefront of my mind: the past. What’s been interesting though, is that the clarity with which I’m viewing these recollections has never been better. I’m seeing my life for what it is and what it was. Like most of us, I was wearing rose-colored glasses for most of it.
I’ve always loved the phrase “rose-colored glasses,” not least because there exists a fantastic photograph of my maternal grandmother wearing massive rose-colored glasses in the 1970’s, as cool as it gets. Regardless, the phrase refers to viewing things through an unrealistic prism, generally an overly positive one. To wear rose-colored glasses is to see something not for what it really is, but what you want it to be. The glasses hide the warts, the dirt and grime, they only show the good, in radiant pink light. But we all know that life is a mess – past, present, and future.
I was wearing rose-colored glasses throughout the entire time in the band, and for some time after it. When I left the band, I viewed it as losing the best thing that ever happened to me, that nothing would ever compare to the heights achieved in that band. But, as daylight grew between myself and the band, those rose-colored lenses began to come off. I could see through the cracks of the once-pink glasses, and I could see what was really in front of me, and behind me. Yes, the band was a formative time, but not in the way I thought.
Through my rose-colored glasses, I saw myself as a member of a well-known band, a part of something bigger. But the glasses fell away, and I was actually in an obscure band with delusions of grandeur. This is not a dig; in a band situation, you’ve got to dream big. But none of it was true. It certainly wasn’t the best thing I’d ever done with my life, that’s to come. I wouldn’t relive it if you paid me. If I’m honest with myself, I had reservations going into the first record I made with them. A song we were working on felt to me like a desperate attempt at relevance instead of bold artistry. But, I kept my mouth shut, the song never made it anyway.
It felt better to look at things through rose-colored glasses, everything seemed as it should be: I was in a well-known band, touring, making big records, and all was well. But with those glasses off: I was in a little-known band, playing small venues with sparse crowds, recording the same records for years, and I completely abandoned my family. Glasses off, life was actually a mess. I was a wreck, lost, and acting out.
But I didn’t know that until after, when the glasses came off. Those glasses, you’ve got them too. You wear them when you look back at high school as though it was the best time of your life, or when you think about a past relationship, job, or place. You can even wear them while something is happening, once again a relationship or a situation that seems just so perfect now probably has some red flags you’re missing. Your present isn’t perfect, your past is a bloodbath, and the present is a total wash. Take off the glasses, they’re not doing you any good.