I read an essay by the writer Meghan Daum the other day. After living in California and being married and divorced, Daum returned to Manhattan and resumed a similar, if not identical, life to the one she had lived twenty years before. She described the sense she had of returning to herself when this happened, the self she was unable to circumvent by temporarily adhering to societal conventions, such as marriage and working in an office. This was who she was, she realized, the one she was inevitably meant to be. Daum equated it to the number on a bathroom scale when, despite dieting and other temporary gains and losses, her body always seemed to return to the same weight. The life she was living again was her “normal,” she realized, the state she would return to no matter what. Sitting at a messy desk, writing on a deadline, eating deli sushi, drinking coffee, staring out the window. This was where she was, and where she would end up, too – because it was who she was.
Of course, I identified with Daum’s realization about this inevitability. I wrote about it in The Original 1982. That’s not to say that I believe we’re incapable of changing anything about ourselves, or our lives, but overall, I think we tend to drift back to a state that is true to our nature. I’m thinking specifically of my own decision to stop performing when I say this, and also of my romantic history. My life as a musician was stressful, the travel in combination with all the things that can go wrong. An unsympathetic sound-system, a broken string, voice or hands that refuse to behave. As for love, it’s been even more fraught.