Into a dancer you have grown
From a seed somebody else has thrown
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you’ll never know
“For A Dancer” by Jackson Browne
WHO OR WHAT I am today is not easy to explain. The main reason for this dilemma is that I am not sure who or what I am today is or if even today is a reality. With this thought perhaps with your help I can discover who or what the he-l- is this being by the name of Joel Elveson.
Politically back in the 1970’s (when this article was written back in High School) I was a long-haired liberal minded kid who enjoyed rock n roll and pot. Going to clubs to “hang out” and smoke even more dope was a Friday night ritual.
Today I have no use for drugs (haven’t used them for close to 30 years) or going to clubs to “hang out.” As far as politics go I now lean decidedly to the right of the political spectrum which is to say Conservatism. My life revolves around family, writing, amongst other which are in no particular order.
Still who am I today? What am I today? I have searched the rivers and the canyons of mind for an answer but still clarity eludes me. Back then it was called having an “identity crisIs” or living outside of your body. Today the answer is find a therapist who can help you “get in touch with your feelings” so as to help you get to know yourself.
My path to weight gain started in college and grew more intense during my early Brooklyn disco era years. A challenge was put to me to gain weight. I accepted that challenge issued by my then girlfriend who wound up becoming my best friends’ wife. I ate donuts and drank bottle after bottle of chocolate Yoo Hoo. My skinny 110-pound frame gained a noticeable stomach that my best friend’s girlfriend (now my wife of 30 years) took a disliking to.
Today the stomach is bigger than ever and I am as of today 180 pounds at all of 5’5” tall which means I have plenty of weight to lose. The music I listen to today is the music of the 1960’s, some 1970’s, and some 1980’s is what I always listened to. Then and now I have a “thing” for acoustic folk music as performed by singer/songwriters. I always loved this type of music even during the days of jet black greased hair with sun glasses and a leather jacket as I was heavily into the New York Punk Music scene.
My favorite band back then was The Clash whom my friends and I hung out with and smoked “weed” with on several occasions. Nonetheless I was crushed when I heard about Phil Ochs killing himself (Phil still is my favorite singer/songwriter/poet) and crushed even further when I found out Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway.
A local DJ on FM radio (Vin Scelsa) during a transit strike here in New York City compared Phil Ochs and the Clash and Phil Ochs as rock n roll revolutionary’s as Phil started to deteriorate from binge drinking that is how he saw himself. I miss Phil!
Gone forever are those days yet I remember them fondly. Paul Simon penned a brilliant line to the classic Simon & Garfunkel song the boxer which was;
No it isn’t strange that after changes upon changes we are more or less the same.
I came across numerous journals, poems, songs, articles, etc. that I wrote in high school and college and could not get over the accolades I received for my writing along with the encouragement to keep writing. One college professor noted that when my writing becomes very “opinionated” it has real strength. I am very opinionated these days.
Still I get goosebumps when I see the Rolling Stones on You Tube or Simple Minds opening power chords to their hit “Don’t Forget About Me” from the movie The Breakfast Club. Rock N Roll is still a part of me today but the liberalism behind the music (sometimes I wish I could feel that way again but obviously do not) is in stark contrast to the lifestyle I live today.
This question of whom am I today took on a life of its own as I was pouring through all the material that I referenced above that I wrote so many years ago. The answer to this question I am posing to myself is best answered in the lyrics of the hauntingly beautiful ballad as written and sung by Jackson Browne.
I am who I am which is to say the infamous sum of a bunch of different influences that shaped me into what I am and who I am today which is to say who am I today and what am I today.