Author Jay Cradeur explores themes of a man’s life with the words of poet warrior musician Tom Petty (with video links).
“God, it’s so painful when something that’s so close is still so far out of reach.”
Tom Petty, American Girl (Video here).
Last night, after a long and stressful day at the auto dealership in search for a metallic grey 2015 Toyota Prius, I lied on my bed and hunkered down to watch the four-hour documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers titled Running Down a Dream. If you graduated from high school in the 70’s or 80’s, you will most likely enjoy the film and the music, and learn something about the man who wrote (and continues to write to this day) all those amazing songs. This article is inspired by the lyrics of Tom’s songs, which cover many topics none the least of which are desire, waiting, self knowledge, silent power, and inner contentment.
“There was rock and roll across the dial, when I think of her it makes me smile.”
Tom Petty, Dreamville
We all have something don’t we? We all have something we want, but we just can’t seem to get it. Or, once we get it, we want something else. It is the never-ending cycle of desire, satisfaction (which is rarely as good as we had expected), and then renewed desire for something else. Try these on for size: We love someone, we want someone, but can’t have them. This is classic unrequited love. We want to lose those extra 20 pounds and get into the best shape of our life, but can’t (or won’t) do it. We want to have $1,000,000 in our retirement fund so we can stop working and live in decadent freedom, yet it seems so far away. Plug in your own desire. Love, health, and money usually top the list. We all have them.
“The waiting is the hardest part, every day you get one more yard. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart, the waiting is hardest part.”
Tom Petty, The Waiting (Video here)
Anything worth having or doing is hard. This is fact. Writing a book is hard. Being married is hard. Saving for retirement is hard. Creating the body you desire is hard. The good stuff does not come easy. It requires an understanding of the concept of delayed gratification. For years I talked about writing a book. It wasn’t until I sat down in Phuket, Thailand and wrote out a work schedule over 3 months. I then worked my plan and typed on my laptop each day and the book Radical Freedom was actually written and published. The same goes for losing 40 pounds. Every day I went to the gym. Everyday I ate a high protein, low carb diet. Over a year, I dropped the weight. There is a myth that once you find your passion, your work will always be a joy. This is utter nonsense. Work by its very nature has certain challenging by products, namely, monotony, boredom, struggle, and self-doubt. Understanding that anything worth having is hard and requires a powerful commitment is a necessary step toward achievement and fulfillment.
“It just seems to useless to have to work so hard, and nothing ever really seem to come from it”
“Just wonderin’, waitin’, worryin’ about some silly little things, that just don’t add up to nothin’”
Tom Petty, Here Comes My Girl (Video here)
Know thyself. This is easier said than done. Do you know what you want? If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there! In the process of learning about myself, I found that the high’s were not so high, and the lows were not so low. I made discoveries. Life established a more even keel. Over the years, I had learned what triggered my lows, and took a good hard look at the root of the upset. I also learned what produced the outrageous highs in my life, and began to temper them with a solid dose of reality and an understanding that nothing truly makes that big of a difference in my life. I may be a hamster on a wheel, but I know I am a hamster on a wheel.
“I got my own way of praying.”
Tom Petty, Southern Accents (Video here)
In the process of having desires, learning more about ourselves, understanding that having what we want takes focus, work and time, and achieving some of our long term goals, we begin to develop an inner strength which I call silent power. Life is about to get very interesting. Suddenly the pursuit of external objects and the desire for love and the need for security become secondary to our internal landscape. Instead of looking out for validation and satisfaction, one begins to look within. For many, this type of rebirth occurs in a church setting, and for many others it occurs sitting on a mediation cushion or at a Buddhist temple in SE Asia.
“I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing.”
Tom Petty, Learning To Fly (Video here)
Is this the ultimate goal of life? Is the life of Siddhartha the role model for a fully realized life? In Herman Hesse’s classic novel, Siddhartha experiences the delight of every human desire and then realizes there must be something else. Off he ventures in search of himself. In the end he achieves enlightenment simply by observing the river and realizing we are all a part of a whole interconnected life. Desires come and go. They do not impact the silent power that lives within. Nothing impacts the inner life. This is the lesson and the state of grace some achieve. It is a love affair with none other than life itself.
“I wanna free fall out into nothin’ Gonna leave this world for awhile”
Tom Petty, Free Fallin’ (Video here)
Life is so amazing, and interesting. The more I look at it and write about it, the more I realize there is so much more to it than I could ever have imagined. When Tom Petty sings about free fallin’, I wonder if he is touching on the lessons from Siddhartha. For some, desires drive a life. For others, desires come and go. And still for others, life is a free flowing dance, a carnival show for our amusement, the ultimate free fall. Regardless, all of it fantastically coexists and drenches us like a Louisiana rain.
The article originally appeared on the Good Men Project Website.