The Rolling Stones are one of the few bands that have A) lived this long; B) stayed together; and C) are still performing in packed stadiums to screaming, adoring crowds. To me, they offer a lesson in what it must be like to be one of the immortal alpha males of my beloved fantasy novels. I’ve written about the burden of immortality before here. My thoughts have evolved as a result of seeing actual humans whose lives approximate, in a small way, characters such as Karen Marie Moning’s Barrons, Thea Harrison’s Dragos, and Nalini Singh’s Raphael —if these characters actually existed (I think about them like they are real, but I am aware that they are fictional projections created by brilliant authors—no matter how realistic my fantasies may seem—but I’m wandering off the reservation again, aren’t I?). These [fictional] creatures have lived for thousands of years, were worshiped as gods, and possessed remarkable powers. Kind of like Mick and the boys—with fewer years behind them, of course. Is it possible to come out the other end of that kind of time, power and consistent adulation with any amount of perspective or humility? Seems like it wouldn’t be, doesn’t it?
There might be a way–a safety valve, if you will. I’m thinking that even when life comes in the extra-large size, both in terms of length and attributes, it also throws enough curve balls at us so that if we have a modicum of common sense, we are forced, sooner or later, to understand that the vicissitudes of fate do not spare the rich, the powerful or the beautiful. Life bites us in the ass every time. The longer we live, the more opportunity for dentition in the region of our backsides.
I’m not saying life isn’t grand. For me, right now, it certainly is. I am savoring the sweetness of being in love, being on vacation, having adventures and extraordinary experiences (my husband and I have agreed that the best gifts at this point in our lives are activities not stuff). But the point of this appreciation is that it isn’t always like this. Life is often hard, even for the likes of Mick Jagger, who is certainly living an extraordinary existence by any measure. But even Mick is not immune to suffering; he lost his partner to suicide not too long ago, which had to bring him up short. For the likes of Barrons, Dragos and Raphael, the reversals of fortune multiplied in direct proportion to the number of years on this plane. As I’ve written about before, the deathwatch list for them must be interminable. Such realities keep us humble. Mostly.
But, as we know from reading misses Moning, Harrison and Singh, not all immortal powerhouses got the humility memo. Many just lose their marbles and become sociopathic nightmares. But hey, that happens to us mortals, too, especially the ones who are lulled into a specious sense of self-importance because they have achieved some measure of success, fame, or influence. They forget that we are given our gifts to use for the higher good, not to inspire the likes of Carly Simon to write songs about our outsized vanity.
I’m thinking the Romans got it right, although maybe not about the group bulimia thing. Remembering thou art mortal, even when it’s not true, like for my paranormal alpha gods, is good advice. It’s good advice me, and it’s good advice for Mick Jagger too, because while he has held up remarkably well, his strut is a little more subdued and his voice has a little less projection than it once did. He’s got to be feeling the burden of his years, and the inexorable march of time makes everyone humble, even the giants. Still, I’d give a lot to have the moves like Jagger, for however long his longevity lasts.