Lynn Monty, Editor in Chief
Music of all genres makes my soul sing, but I tend to get up and move with harder riffs—and not away either. I get closer to the music—turn it up in more ways than one. The heavy stuff propels me forward, makes me bold. Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist Chris Cornell’s voice has been in my ears all of my adult life. He died May 18 at the age of 52.
Cornell was a multi-platinum artist who sold more than 30 million records worldwide. His sound was exceptional, respected and so loved. His death struck me particularly hard because I am almost 50 years old. He was way too young to go regardless of how he went. Authorities say, but his family refutes, that it was suicide.
I recently started running again, and Soundgarden and Audioslave are on my playlist to get me up these rural Vermont hills. When I listened to “Cochise” and “I am the Highway” on my run the day of his death, I ran harder. And not only that, hearing his voice made me want to live harder.
Do I have a day or do I have 50 years left on this planet? Am I an autumn moon or am I the night? Nobody knows. But we all go through this, don’t we? We get existential and think deeply about ourselves. We vow, “I am going to eat healthier, go to bed earlier …” Yada, yada, yada. It sticks for a week, and we are back to our “bad” habits and kicking ourselves, especially as we approach our fifties.
I ate almost an entire bag of kettle-cooked potato chips because I found a misspelled word in the last edition of The News. I must have read it literally 75 times and never saw it. I even lost sleep over the error. When I admitted to my family that I missed a major typo, you know what they did? They collectively shrugged their shoulders! The nerve. And then my daughter casually said, “You’re way too hard on yourself, Mom.”
So, I ate the chips that day. Some days I run. It’s the yin and yang of existence. Up and down. Good habits and bad. It’s all a part of the whole. Most things we undertake in our daily round are not all that important, yet each one of us exemplifies some narcissistic propensity to think otherwise. Some people are worse than others with this, of course, and it certainly doesn’t help to walk around touting, “I am the editor aren’t I? I am a great editor. Ask anybody. Everyone tells me I am a great editor.”
I happen to err on the side of self-deprecation actually. Whether or not my family, friends, coworkers or my dog have all been forced to listen to my inane criticism of myself on any particular day, it’s still up to me to find balance. I do this with music. The sound of Chris Cornell in my earbuds has always been just like his song “Like a Stone,” reminding me that I am indeed strong and complete just as I am. Music takes us into solitude, away from our life for a moment and into a place of reflection where solutions can be found. Sometimes the messages I interpret are not what was originally intended, but that’s part of the magic, my songwriter husband tells me.
Much of how we live our lives is structured in a way that’s out of our immediate control. And most of these structures were put into place before we were even born. That’s why some of us carry our rebellious natures well into our fifties, way past our teen years. We forge ahead day after day observing, questioning and, right before we make our next bold move, we crank it up and sing along with Chris Cornell, “I’m going to break my rusty cage and run.” I ran a total of 14 miles last week and plan to keep running, exploring, growing, writing and loving this Charlotte community and all of the people who pass through my life a little harder than before. It’s a true gift to be here. Right here. Right now. As is. Imperfections and all.