The Father Issue

So a friend of mine wrote in and said that although she was happy with what I was doing, she wanted to make sure I didn’t forget to “live a little”….I almost threw up. What?  Live a little?  If I would of had a better voice and a guitar player growing up I’d have a book written about me already.  How about calm the fuck down a little.

Portrait of Lord Byron

Now I am not going to sit here and rant and rave about growing up without a father.  A lot of kids in this country are dealt a far harder hand and that is just what you have to play with. Plus, I don’t want to waste my words or your time on that dickbag.  Today, is for celebration.  Today is Lord Byron’s birthday: 223rd birthday.  I know this post is a little different but LB was one of four men who have influenced me, raised me if you will, throughout my life, the other three being my grandfather, my childhood mate Austin and Jim Morrison.  Unfortunately, growing up, half of these men had already died years before, but an abandoned boy will take comfort and guidance anywhere he can get it. I spent my youthful years pouring over and studying these men.  Not only their works, but their actions, their writings, their thoughts.  I took pieces of each one and incorporated them into who I was going to be.  Unfortunately, I took on a little of their drinking habits and craziness too, as that went along with the territory.

To be honest, I’ve always felt that I was born way past my time.  I’m into gas lamps and absinthe and sitting rooms and shit like that.  I mean, hell, I asked for, and got, a Venetian carnival cloak for Christmas. Even looking at this picture now I’m thinking about how I can’t wait to get to Venice and pimp this shit out Monte-Cristo style.

Byron though has influenced me in a way the others haven’t.  There was something to Byron, something that charmed and seduced the same people who would call him the devil.  He was the wild child of The Romantics so he lived drastically and loved passionately.  His passion wove through his words but more importantly was stamped on all his actions.  I think the reason I initially related to him was because he was always isolated, always surrounded yet alone, never quite at home.  I think for much of my life I felt this way too.  Always searching for a perfect womb of comfort but never fully finding it.  As I studied Byron more he grew into a mentor for me.  Although years apart, his past successes and failures were an outline for me on which to raise myself.  I know half of you are probably thinking, Shit, Crowley didn’t only drink a beer today he must of smoked crack, but I’m just trying to give one of my main men some homage on his birthday.  Give a little props to an OG as the half-wit generation that has followed us would say.

His words and life really influenced me and gave me something to look towards.

The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds

Of fiery climes he made himself a home,

And his Soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt

With strange and dusky aspects; he was not

Himself like what he had been; on the sea

And on the shore he was a wanderer;

Byron, The Dream

Byron’s life gave me goals.  I would stay up at college most summers and I used to read his biography, along with those of Shelley, Keats and all the “mad” ones.  I can still remember the tree I used to lie under on the Old Main lawn at Penn State, and how all the brilliant, exotic places they traveled to would drip off the pages into my imagination.  I would lie under that big blue and white sky (yes, I know, God is a Penn State fan) and I would plan to see the world in my head.  Sensation by sensation. He made me jump into the abyss, and I fucking loved it.

Shelley’s tomb at the Protestant cemetery in Rome

Keats grave at the Protestant cemetery in Rome

Byron’s villa in Venice

One of many plagues around Italy commemorating Byron and The Romantics

Now to say I followed Byron around the world would not be accurate.  First of all, he has never been to South America or Australia and I have been to both.  On the other hand, I have not been to Albania or to as many parts of Greece and the far East as he had…yet.  But, to say I’ve run into him on my travels would be an understatement.  Again, looking towards this man as somewhat of a parental figure, it was only natural that I would try to find something tangible of him.

Byron’s grotto, he swam here everyday while living in this region, and as a good pupil, I did too.

I have found Byron in Italy, on Lake Geneva and in the dungeons of The Chateu de Chillon.  I have also traveled by bus on which the driver just pulled over, parked, went in and ate lunch while he had fifteen passengers waiting on him, my destination three hours outside of Athens, my beautiful wife humoring me on our honeymoon, to see the forgotten Temple of Poseidon overlooking the Aegean sea with Byron’s name carved in a pillar. Again, for a boy who did not have much in the father department to hold on to, it gives me a certain comfort, a certain closeness to be at these places.  To feel some kind of kinship.

Now bear with me here, I am not trying to get too sentimental.  I am just trying to project the importance of these men in my life.  My grandfather taught me discipline and sports, Austin taught me street smarts, Morrison taught me art, but Byron, Byron taught me passion.  Without these four men, good or bad, I would not be the man I am today.  I mean, Christ, I celebrate a man’s birthday who died a hundred and fifty four years before I even was born and I couldn’t even tell you when my “real dad’s” birthday is.  I think maybe November, but who even cares?

Now some of these men are not known to the world as upstanding, compassionate humans.  But, to leave it at this.  For all their shortcomings, these men have influenced and helped guide one angry, lonesome boy, away from trouble and despair and towards a life that creates smiles and is lived drunk with passion and freedom.

Happy Birthday LB, I drink a green tea to you tonight. (fucking green tea!)

Lord Byron on his death bed in Greece, he died fighting for Greek independence from the Turks

“The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain.” – Byron


1 Response to “The Father Issue”

  1. 1 Nicole
    January 26, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Wow…I’m glad to see that my concern for you almost made you throw up! Maybe I chose the wrong words or maybe you took it out of context! I simply meant that I wanted you to still have some fun in between all of your working out and healthy eating! I’m glad to see that it doesn’t seem to be a problem for you!

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