When I was 10, I was given a 2-3% chance of survival.
Let me explain. I sustained a head injury, in which my cerebellum was damaged and started to bleed, and doctors performed an emergency operation to take half my cerebellum out and relieve the pressure on my brain. They told my parents that IF I survived, I would be a vegetable. IF I survived, I would be in the hospital for months.
I got out of the hospital in one month.
I am here. And I am writing this.
Over the next few months, I taught myself, with some help of course, to crawl and then walk, to speak clearly and to feed myself all over again. The anger I felt then and would feel for the next 4 years was unbearable. I kept thinking that I would rather have died, and I lived that way everyday. I hate to say, but my mother got the worst of it. And when she remarried not even a year after I left the hospital, I got even angrier. Stepfather did not help the situation at all. He only made it worse. I lashed out, I was violent. The more my mom and stepfather slapped me around to try to keep me in line, the more violent I became. My mother made me go to a shrink for it all, but it didn't help. It just made me feel worse, and I know it contributed to the bad feelings between me and my mom. There was no doctor-patient confidentiality. She knew everything I told the shrink and would sometimes say it back to me almost verbatim, as if she was trying to make me feel bad for saying it, so there was no point, because the purpose was to have someone to talk to that would be objective.
At 14, I got myself thrown out of the house. I was actually already packed to leave by the time the huge fight between me and my stepfather, and eventually my mother, even started. They took me to my dad's house, and that's where I stayed until college. I would not be here today if I had stayed with my mom and stepfather. I know that.
At school, I became good friends with this British kid. You know, the cooky, geeky kind who looked like Piggy from Lord of the Flies (or what I would imagine Piggy to look like) and wore shorts in the dead of winter. Anyway, one day he gave me the first 4 Led Zeppelin albums on cassette. I took them home and listened. That music was the first thing that made me happy in a long time. It sounds silly, but Robert, Jimmy, John and Bonzo brought me back to life. I don't know how to explain it exactly, but I concentrated on that music. I studied it. I loved it. I knew the timing of each and every one of Page's riffs and Plant's wails. It put positivity back into my life. There were songs that made me sad, but they were still hopeful, like the Rain Song or Ten Years Gone. They unplugged my insides so I could release all that anger and put other emotions in there and move ahead. They are lifelong favorites. Daddy saw my interest in this new music, and immediately took me out to the used record shop and bought me Jimi Hendrix's Smash Hits. Then we went home and he showed me the rest of his music collection, mostly jazz but a lot of classic rock - CCR, Allman Brothers, Canned Heat, old Elvis, the Beatles, Velvet Underground, The Who..... "I want you to take anything you want," he said, and sat by me and recommended things. Dad rescued me in so many ways, and that's why I am so attached to him. Rock does indeed say "Here I am, and fuck you if you can't understand me." I needed to hear that. I needed someone to tell me it was OK to feel that way.
This past weekend, I went to see It Might Get Loud, a documentary in which Page, The Edge and Jack White sit in a room and play each other's music and discuss the craft of playing guitar. They also each go over how they got started and what music is to them. It could have been 6 hours long, and I still would have sat through the whole thing, completely mesmerized. I remembered all the things Jimmy did for me that he doesn't even know about and most likely would have trouble understanding. He saved my life. Music saved my life, and it still does everyday. It holds my hand.
"These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion - I seek the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient - Upon us all a little rain must fall...It's just a little rain..."
PS - Out of all my friends in the world, only one person will understand this post, and he was actually there for some of the story. Ranjiva - this post's for you.