Everything leads us to what's next on the horizon. Every meal, every breath, every trauma is connected - and influence our next move. Even the tone I select to whisper these words - will effect the rest of my day - and as a result, my life as a whole.
In middle school, I loved the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. And the band’s mascot Eddie - a demented zombie adorned in chains and wartime regalia - was the perfect visual equal to the music. Ferocious and unapologetic, Eddie was Iron Maiden - as Iron Maiden was Eddie.
But I’ll never forget the day I saw the so-called “Family Tree” of Iron Maiden. The genesis of the band - synonymous with the birth of Eddie - did not involve the musicians I had come to know. The original Iron Maiden - it turns out - had a much different line-up. To complicate matters, every member had another band before joining Iron Maiden.
This family tree frightening me.
Because the key to creating a successful heavy metal band - apparently - did not only involve the synergy of the musicians present in the room. It also included those who came before - those no longer present in the room but still significant in their past contributions. And I'm not just talking about ex-band members here - I'm talking about lovers, parents, old friends, teachers... the artist who came up with Eddie.. an interwoven network of humans who've all had an equal contribution to the formation of Iron Maiden - as the musicians who've created the music.
For a 13 year old, this was all pretty overwhelming. I was anticipating rock and roll to be a much more straightforward affair - as it probably should be. To get a few friends together, bang out some chords, make killer songs, and get the record deal.
But now, my comprehension of what it took to make a successful music band was being defied.
I had difficulty accepting the beauty of this chart. The fact that so many stars had to align to create something as beautiful as Iron Maiden - should have warranted my admiration. But instead, I became discouraged. Everything began overwhelming me. I didn’t know how to allow the procession and order of life events to organically create something true to the moment - I felt I had to force the stars into alignment with my vision. I wish someone had told me to not do that.
In hindsight, that chart was not even a fraction to the true story behind Iron Maiden’s formation. But it did get me to think. Now in my mind, Eddie was no longer a creature existing solely for the purpose of defining Iron Maiden - he became something more universal. He was the byproduct of many people - many life events - many parents - many friendships, and many meals. He was the culmination of countless variables subsequently influencing each other. And perhaps if one or two variables had been any different, he too would have looked different as well - or perhaps, Iron Maiden would have been a folk trio instead of a heavy metal quartet.
But as long as we take into account our immediate surroundings, actions, and individuals of the present moment - without allowing ourselves to overthink about past events or comparisons to other things - the stars are always guaranteed to align. Maybe not the way we had imagined - maybe not the way we had anticipated. But things will always be - alright. What’s meant to be - ultimately - is us working with what we have in the present. And that’s how Iron Maiden - or at least the version of it I knew in middle school - was formed.
(Originally Published 5/1/19)