It was an overwhelming experience and it almost totally consumed my life.
Because of my addiction, I spent countless hours in my room ignoring friends. I also developed those scary dark shadows beneath my eyelids; my parents even considered an intervention.
The 10th grade was the year I became addicted to Bruce Springsteen. I believe the proper diagnosis is Bruce-a-holicsim.
Bruce Springsteen entered my life one day when a group of my friends in high school "ended up" at the local mall during school hours. There, on that historic day I bought his Greatest Hits album. "Born to be Wild" was the specific song that I wanted to blast on the car ride home. Initially, I was disappointed to learn that Bruce didn't sing the song. What can I say? I must have been Lost in the Flood to mistake Born to Run with Born to be Wild. (Let's see who gets that one).
One late school-night during one of my "binges", I was listening to his Live 75-85 album in the total dark with my earmuff style headphones on. A song titled, "Growin' Up" came on, and then right in the middle of it, Bruce and the band just stop playing and he starts telling this story:
"My dad and my mom have been following me all over California tryin' to get me to come back home ... they still want me to go back to college. My mom wants me to be an author and my dad wants me to be a lawyer ... but what they do not understand is that I want everything. ... Anyway, mom you wanted an author and dad you wanted a lawyer, BUT TONIGHT YOU ARE JUST GUNNA HAVE TO SETTLE FOR ROCK N ROLL!"
I sometimes think to myself, "What if Bruce had went back to school?"
-What if he had listened to what other people were telling him?
-What if he had tried to live out his parents dreams instead of his own?
No Born to Run! No Darkness! No Nebraska! No Born in the USA! No legendary 3-4 hour concerts! [I am having a panic attack!] Bruce was once quoted as saying, "The first time I looked at myself in the mirror and felt comfortable was when I saw my reflection with a guitar around my neck." Bruce never gave up on his dreams and I am glad he didn't. Bruce knew that his calling involved a microphone and guitar, not a law book or teaching the alphabet to a classroom of kindergartners. Something for all of us to learn from this is the importance of being attune to your God-given gifts and talents. This is what makes you unique. Like a fingerprint, you are the only person like you in all the earth. The strength of understanding and embracing this idea is what author / teacher Marcus Buckingham calls breaking free from the "Tyranny of the Shoulds." According to Buckingham, the tyranny of the shoulds are all those voices -all those dream killers- that stand in your way and negate the calling you have on your life. The scary thing about this is that oftentimes you will find your closest friends and family as the ones shouting the loudest "shoulds" in your ear as you pursue your goal(s).
This is personal for me.
Upon graduation from high school, I felt a strong call on my life to enter the ministry. The college I applied to had a fantastic youth ministry program, but the college was located in GEORGIA. 12 hours away was a long way away for me, and let's face it, I did not do so hot in high school either. The "shoulds" where there; at times loud and clear and other times in people's undertones. Nevertheless, I went.
I never, even once, considered how much money my profession would pay, I just dove straight in, believing this was my calling. I never gave the "shoulds" a second thought, other than to prove all the naysayers wrong. Looking back, they faithfully served as the fuel for my fire. I studied hard, spent many weekend nights in my dorm room reading and 4 years later I walked across the graduation floor to receive my diploma. Knock Knock. It's Anthony raising a glass to all the haters...
Bo Bennett was on the money when he said, "Every day, people settle for less than they deserve.
They are only partially living --or at best living a partial life." In the epic movie, The Shawshank Redemption we read these hallowing words etched in a beam of wood towards the end of the movie, "Either get busy living or get busy dying." In one of my favorite movies, A Bronx Tale, the Mob Boss Sonny uttered this phrase, "The worst thing in life is wasted talent." And in my personal favorite movie, Braveheart, we hear, "All men die, but not all men truly live."
If you are reading this and are wondering the point, I'll try to make it short and simple:
Live your life.
I know for certain that the Tyranny of the Shoulds would have killed at least two people's futures: Anthony Kladitis' and Bruce Springsteen's.
One would have lived a life without the music, and the other would have lived a life without a compelling message.