“When I was growing up, there were two things that were unpopular in my house. One was me, and the other was my guitar.”
I ran across this quote while trying to discover where Inspiration was hiding this morning. Sometimes, she's a fair hand at being immaterial or missing altogether. When I read it, I laughed out loud. Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite musicians—he's gritty, he's honest, and he's technically fantastic. I've seen him in concert and he just belts it out for three solid hours. Now we know where all his angst-ridden songs come from—that unhappy childhood! There are some benefits to growing up hard.
You may be saying, “Are you crazy! There's no benefit to growing up hard.” And I would have to agree that it isn't ideal. But it's rather like sand in an oyster shell—it gives you something to rub against, something to cut your teeth on. I see lots of children today who grow up with simply too much—too much approval, too many material possessions, too much parental attention. They learn to think life revolves around them, and it is their perfect right to have that be the case. Once they are out in the world, they don't know how to handle failure. They're devastated by criticism. When you are raised in a tough family, you grow a thicker skin, you learn to deal with adversity, and you realize that life is not going to cut you any deals, so you'll need to make your own.
Bruce Springsteen goes on to say, “But, I think your entire life is a process of sorting out some of those early messages that you got.” He does that sorting process by writing songs. Whether the messages we received in childhood were too good or truly difficult, we are shaped by them. If we want to grow and develop, we spend much of the rest of our life putting the pieces in order. We can benefit from the sand in our oyster shell, as he has done, or not. It helps to have friends who will walk the path with us, and it helps to be a friend who walks the path with others.
In the Spirit,