Rest in Peace, Chris Cornell. (And Gen-X. And okayness.)

Man, I’m in a dark and strange mood this morning. I shouldn’t be. It’s gorgeous out there.

I live in Arizona and it’s May 19 and we’ve been sleeping with the windows open. It’s been like this for almost two weeks. The bedroom air is slightly chilly in the morning, so I reach for a light robe. This bizarre behavior can only mean one thing: we’re entering a new Ice Age.

It’s not just at night, either. After I get up, I go around the house and open one or two other windows and the front door, and leave them open for a good half-day, if not longer. I open them again in the evenings. This, my friends in other places, is paradise. We desert-dwellers love the desert, but we also love an unseasonably cool breeze through our security screen doors.

For posterity, here’s me this morning:

 

May 19, 2017 – in a light sweatshirt. In Arizona.

 

At the same time, awful things have been happening in the world, including the recent and tragic departure of Chris Cornell, whose widespread fame was launched with his Seattle grunge band Soundgarden. His death was not only shocking and sad, but also somewhat alarming for we “lost ones” of Generation X.

When you spend your childhood in the 70’s, your teens in the 80’s, and your twenties in the 90’s –and when the 90’s was your favorite decade, and Ten is one of your all-time favorite albums – the untimely deaths of icons like Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell are sobering. It makes you want to watch Singles (older Gen-Xers), Reality Bites (younger Gen-Xers), and Office Space all day, kicked back on the couch eating chips and not looking for a job, all of us stereotypical, slovenly losers and slackers of Generation X.

Should I complete my own stereotype as a Gen-X writer and install a coffee pot on my desk?

Should I stare off into space and then write a letter? (“Dear Eddie Vedder: please don’t.”)

But I’m lucky. My depression is under control. I’m okay. We’re okay. Everything is okay. Everything is fine, despite global shenanigans at the highest levels of power, shenanigans of which there’s no need to speak. It’s like that one meme… that one where the dog is sitting in a house that’s burning down around him, and then he perks up and says, “This is fine.”

That’s a sign of our times, though, isn’t it? “Okay” and “fine” have long since been code for “things aren’t exactly hunky-dory.”  

“How are you?”

“I’m okay.”

“JUST okay?”

Commence questioning all of your life choices as you’re prompted to consider why you said just “okay.” You can’t be okay if you say you’re okay, because okay isn’t good enough. To tell the well-meaning inquirer that you’re okay is to send yourself an invitation to spill all of your not-okayness right there in the office hallway on your way to the water cooler.

Is this the product of a society defined by extremes? If we’re not flying high on the vaporous joy of life at all times, then something is wrong?

I’ll take “okay.”

Maybe this entire post was a sort of tangent. Maybe I just wanted to say, Rest in Peace, Chris Cornell.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Chris Cornell. (And Gen-X. And okayness.)

  1. I think okay is perfect. The world has challenged us, we (GenX) worry about uncontrollable issues, but we know there is good in the world. We are tagged as pessimists, but we are generally realists, seeing both sides and over analyzing everything. It is certainly okay to be okay.

    As for Chris, the tragedy is that someone with so much talent and who has been so lucky to live the music life style, could throw it away. Before I get slammed for being insensitive, I feel for his family and people who knew him personally. I survived a family member committing suicide and I can tell you that their lives will be forever changed. Changed not in a different sense than he is gone and will be missed from. I assure you, every one of them will ask why for the rest of their lives. It will torture his children and his wife until they die. All of that said, I can’t imagine the pain he must have been dealing with to take his own life.

    I know that might seem dark so…. See the beauty in the world. Experience the joy and savor the good things. Be the best, caring person you can be and try not to take things for granted. Life is a precious miracle.

    RIP Chris, it will be “okay”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree… on the whole, we in Gen-X are realists more than pessimists. We’ve done pretty well considering our awkward place in history. We were “losers” who went on to invent the digital age as we know it. “Okay” is great.

    Your thoughts on Chris’ suicide don’t make you insensitive. I’m sorry that you had to experience suicide from the perspective of a loved one’s survivor.

    I like what you said here. We do well to find and appreciate the beauty in the world, to recognize opportunities to experience joy and to share them with others through our own kindness. Thank you for leaving this reminder.

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  3. Happy birthday to me, right?

    “Hey, isn’t the weather awesome? Oh, Chris Cornell is dead.”

    As if things couldn’t get shittier, here’s your extra helping. Still, I understand the reflection, & the pensive mood. There I was, turning 48 & hearing that news after the last year, losing Bowie, losing Prince, Leonard Cohen is gone.

    It’s the rapture! Bowie went back to his planet & he’s calling all the poets & artists home with him!

    Truly, though, the slow, tedious confluence of all these events in the world make you really take stock of your everything around you. As a GenXer, I can’t help but wonder if this might not be our Great War?

    A previous Lost Generation was made in the conflict of WWI, at a much younger age than any of us are now. It was through their experiences & through the lenses of their ideas & ideals that The Greatest Generation grew. The depth & breadth of those ideas were taught to us as children. We were given the tools to ascertain the value of ideas in our educations. However, alarmingly, we seem to be way short of artists & poets & philosophers.

    Losing someone like Chris is hard. He’s one of the earliest birth years for our generation, an elder statesman if you will. So it is. We lose one of the few poets & artists & philosophers we had.

    As for how he died, there can’t possibly be am official Cause of Death yet, as reported by papers. Even a preliminary finding couldn’t make a CONCLUSION as to intent. That said, the autopsy isn’t complete. For now, it’s an apparent suicide. I’ll reserve further comment until the facts are fully known.

    Beyond that, he was a genius with the voice of a god. I will miss him every day, but thankfully there are hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of him on YouTube & several recordings of his work.

    He left us, but he didn’t leave us empty handed.

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  4. Yes – happy birthday to you! =)
    The rapture, indeed. Bowie has been busy putting together his perfect band. An inordinate number of musical greats have left us since he passed.
    This is an interesting idea you have – that we Gen-Xers find ourselves emblematic of a significant turning point in western civilization history. And it could be that our poor numbers in the creative and critical thinking departments are partially due to the fact that we’re a smaller generation.
    Cheers to that: Chris Cornell didn’t leave us empty-handed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I do now have to add to my previous comment: the toxicology results are in, & the coroner conveniently confirmed his “ruling” despite not having the whole picture.

    I would point to this article (http://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/06/03/werner-spitz-chris-cornell-autopsy/367825001/).

    I’m of the same opinion. Not only am I unconvinced that his death couldn’t have been accidental, I think the ME made significant mistakes, particularly in finding a cause at all before all reports are in.

    Recall when Michael Jackson died? Recall the ME saying early on that he wouldn’t know COD until after tox was in? That’s how autopsies are supposed to work. You don’t form an opinion & then find fact.

    That said, regardless, I’ll miss him every day & regret the loss of an empathetic, powerful poet:

    Like A Stone (Audioslave)

    On a cob web afternoon,
    In a room full of emptiness
    By a freeway I confess
    I was lost in the pages of a book full of death;
    Reading how we’ll die alone.
    And if we’re good we’ll lay to rest,
    Anywhere we want to go.

    In your house I long to be;
    Room by room patiently,
    I’ll wait for you there like a stone.
    I’ll wait for you there alone.

    And on my deathbed I will pray to the gods and the angels,
    Like a pagan to anyone who will take me to heaven;
    To a place I recall, I was there so long ago.
    The sky was bruised, the wine was bled, and there you led me on.

    In your house I long to be;
    Room by room, patiently,
    I’ll wait for you there like a stone.
    I’ll wait for you there alone, alone.

    And on I read until the day was gone;
    And I sat in regret of all the things I’ve done;
    For all that I’ve blessed, and all that I’ve wronged.
    In dreams until my death I will wander on.

    In your house I long to be;
    Room by room, patiently,
    I’ll wait for you there like a stone.
    I’ll wait for you there alone, alone.

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  6. “You don’t form an opinion & then find fact.” Thank you. If the whole world had the sense to operate according to this maxim, the world would be a much better place. Everything, in fact, would be different.
    Those are beautiful lyrics.

    Like

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