Will I be confined by my DNA, or will I define who I am?

This is the central tension of Springsteen on Broadway: the self we feel doomed to be through blood and family versus the self we can—if we have the courage and desire—will into existence. Springsteen, as he reveals here, has spent his entire life wrestling with that question that haunts so many of us: Will I be confined by my DNA, or will I define who I am? … “Yeah…,” Springsteen says when I sit down with him a couple weeks later and tell him it seems the essential question of his show is “Are we bound by what courses through our veins?” He looks off to his left into his dressing-room mirror… It’s into this mirror and toward these talismans that Springsteen often gazes when he is answering my questions. He’s a deep listener and acts with intent. He has a calm nature and possesses a low, soft voice. He has a tendency to be self-deprecating, preemptively labeling certain thoughts “corny.” He smiles easily and likes to sip ginger ale. Sometimes before telling you something personal, he lets out a short, nervous laugh. Above all, he speaks with the unveiledness of a man who has spent more than three decades undergoing analysis—and credits it with saving his life…

Springsteen’s first breakdown came upon him at age thirty- two…On a late- summer night, in remote Texas, they come across a small town where a fair is happening. A band plays. Men and women hold each other and dance lazily, happily, beneath the stars. Children run and laugh. From the distance of the car, Springsteen gazes at all the living and happiness. And then: Something in him cracks open. As he writes, in this moment his lifetime as “an observer . . . away from the normal messiness of living and loving, reveals its cost to me.” All these years later, he still doesn’t exactly know why he fell into an abyss that night. “All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier. . . much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. . . . Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I’ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them wrongly to isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others, and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking, and his payment’ll be in tears.”

~ Michael Hainey, from The Mind is a Terrifying Place. Even for Bruce Springsteen. (Esquire, November 27, 2018)

Comments

  1. the age-old question, and one that he is now reckoning with, honestly and head-on. such a great piece.

    Like

  2. I admire his willingness to ‘lift the veil’ and dig around in his personal attic. It isn’t easy.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The sorting of the baggage statement…
    You’re the second person to prompt me towards this article. This coincides with me telling someone I wish I hadn’t returned to art so late in life. It’s irrelevant the time, It’s pretty Important based on my history that I believed I could do anything at all.

    Now, I’m sorting baggage and only glancing towards old wounds to reference where I might still go.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Very interesting information about ‘The Boss’ … Springsteen, as he reveals here, has spent his entire life wrestling with that question that haunts so many of us: Will I be confined by my DNA, or will I define who I am? … “Yeah…,” Springsteen says when I sit down with him a couple weeks later and tell him it seems the essential question of his show is “Are we bound by what courses through our veins?”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous says:

    This post stopped me in my tracks. Bruce is part of my DNA, providing the sound track that saw me through my teenage years. I’m signing off to read the rest of the article. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for posting, David!
    And the Oprah / Mark Nepo podcast started a cascade of great things this morning. So inspirational I need to sit with ot for a while.

    Also, one thing I stopped at in your “About” section when I started following this Bolg few years ago was. ” As Craig Harper states, “genetics aren’t optional but what we do with them is.”  I believe that being a life long learner is core to an inspired life.  Life is about growth and realizing our own unique potential.  Inch by Inch.  Day by Day.”

    Thanks again 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sadly, so many see no other option than to be confined by their DNA. “Well there’s another dance, all you gotta do is say yes” ~Tougher Than the Rest (Springsteen)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First: What a wonderful picture of Bruce Sprinsteen
    Second: I am now following Oprah’s Podcast (I’m still new to this stuff!)
    Third: I have to totally agree with Sawsan that one should never stop learning
    Fourth: Kudos to The Boss for sharing his deep, dark self. I think he’s right, the longer we put off taking care of our baggage, the heavier it becomes.
    Fifth: You rock, DK You inspire, you make us think, you make us spend on books 😉 you open our eyes… I could go on, but gotta save some for next time,

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you.

    Like

  10. This was a great article! I’m sorry I didn’t get us tickets to his Broadway show…

    Liked by 1 person

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