When I was younger I recall the haunting yet beautiful music of the Doors, led by Jim Morrison. I would feel connected to the music that I heard, but barely took the time to pause in my effort to understand the man behind the music. It was only when I was older and I began to contemplate serious matters of life, such as death and the legacy we leave for our families if we are so lucky to grow to an old age, that I began to look into the life of this man.
He was unlucky to have lived a relatively short life, his music however and the way that he playfully dismissed conventions were his most important skills that he passed down to people like me, who are interested in the genius of men like him. The more I looked into Morrison’s work, the more I saw parts of myself. I think that sometimes people look unto others to find such a spark, something that reminds us that life is short, sometimes to a tragic degree.
But what we do with our lives and what we leave behind are what we must focus on from time to time to be sure that we have lived life to the fullest and expanded our minds to as far as we could, until there was just nothing left to do. Morrison still maintains his position in our lives even in his death. He remains an elusive figure, complicated and suffering in the world due to his intelligence. His high IQ was likely more of a burden to him, an alienating source of frustration when he could not find other like-minded people to share his thoughts with.
It is a likely thought for the religious people in the world that he is in a place that is better for him now with the writers and philosophers that he loved to read. This is something that I so deeply understand and connect with, the feeling of wanting to connect with others but having a barrier there between myself and others. Whether it is because of intelligence, chosen discipline, ethnicity, etc… I believe everyone feels disconnected with others, at times. For some, this disconnect may bring upon a search for something that makes sense, an interconnectedness with others.
Some may find religion, or music, or others on the same path. For me, I found a sense of enlightenment on discovering Morrison and his journey. He seemed to embrace his disconnectedness and turn it into an art. Although Morrison did feel a sense of disconnect with those around him, there are aspects of his life that can be connected when looking at his biography. The connections made with his experiences and his behavior can be further expanded to experiences in my own life. His childhood, for example, was cold and unfulfilling. His father was a U. S.
Navy Admiral, which caused their family to move frequently (Kirjasto, 2000). There was never a healthy relationship developed between him and his father. When his father was as home he had an authoritative way of parenting, which likely led Jim to later have issues with authority figures and laws. Morrison most likely played the role of an underachiever as a young man, because his parents would not allow him to make his own decisions. Therefore, he left home and hitchhiked to California to follow the career that was forbidden by his parents, filmmaking (Cristafulli, 2000).
After this he was shunned from his father and begun his lifetime of freedom amongst uncertainty and mystery. By looking at the restrictions placed upon Morrison and the rift between him and his family, many young people would likely see similarities to this in their own life. I, too, felt a distance between myself and my parents and begun to question my intentions in life in terms of the reasoning for what I was doing. When I began to wonder about whether or not I was following my own path or my parents’ ideal, I began to feel a sense of restlessness stirring inside.
I wanted to rebel and do less than my best just to spite them. I hated certainty and the implications of securing a certain future with a life that had been set up for me. But, I did not go to Jim’s extremes of going against my family totally, though I did move away for college. I kept everything inside until I moved, thinking that everything would be different, that I would be different. But, I saw and realized that authority is authority, regardless of if it is parents or teachers or whomever.
So, freedom is different than it may seem when you are young, it is scary and lonely, because when we are free to be ourselves, we are alone. We don’t feel free collectively, it is different for everyone. Morrison tried to do his best, however, to free people from the tensions and constraints they felt in the volatile era in which he performed. When I feel lonely and understand that I am going through a fundamental change in life, to become a higher functioning person that is not constrained by my past or any other chains that might bind my mind, I think of how it might have felt to go to one of the Doors concerts.
I picture people, who are deep in their own thoughts of how to climb up to a more aesthetic purpose all together and it is comforting. Though I have went to many concerts of current musicians, there is some allure and pull back to the past when life was different and people were different. From this I try to remember that it is not only a journey we all must take to understand our individual past and how we arrived to our current mode of thinking, but also we must learn about the culture of our ancestors to see how we, as people, have arrived to this time and place.
Jim Morrison was completely obsessed, one might say, with his perfect ideal of freedom, just as he was occupied with thoughts of a distant past. He, like most students of life, attempted to reconcile this past with his future. Though his life was most interesting as it was tragic in the way in which he attempted to blot out his present. He told his fans and those close to him that he was trying to expand his thinking while many believe that he was using drugs and alcohol as an escape.
Regardless of why he was using substances, it is important for every young adult to question their quest for knowledge, as to why one is questioning their lives and the world at large. Even if we do not use drugs, as I do not, the exhilaration of finding out elusive secrets of life may be an intoxicating experience in itself. It is so much easier to look toward other people and other topics than to look inward at yourself. Morrison lived his life this way in the extremes of life’s possibilities. He turned to a much distant and disconnected past, though he believed that there was a sense of spirituality in what he described.
It is likely that Jim suppressed his more mediocre thoughts in his past to invite in other more exciting thoughts to create a persona that would be remembered far beyond his own death. He would rather talk about experiences that could not be proven by any method and explore topics that were uncomfortable for others to deal with while encompassing them in music that was comfortable to listen to. His extreme positions taken in his poems were compounded in his sometimes irrational and incomprehensible behavior. These extremes were staggering in there visibility to others and Morrison seemed to revel in the controversy that he created.
It was quite possible that he thrived on the attention while he also wanted for peace and calm. These two vying states of being along with his unresolved tensions in his past and future led to an explosive life. This makes me think of the importance of balance between the extremes of life to achieve understanding and happiness, but also to have a freedom to explore the extreme nature of our lives. I believe that people like Jim Morrison are necessary to understand, as it would be unhealthy in many ways to live his type of lifestyle.
While many of us seek to achieve a limitless understanding of ourselves and our world, we must constantly evaluate and reevaluate our lives with the limits that we find along the way. We are, for example, slaves to our own limits of intelligence, we can only know so much. Jim had a high IQ, stated to be 149 (Kirjasto, 2000). He seemed to possess a wide understanding in what he read in books and studied in college, but he concentrated much of his life to pursuits that could not be studied, proven, or disproved. Many would say this was a waste of time.
But, can we really understand how such an intelligent person could live in a world were things seemed so simple to them but not to us? What one person may think is rational and simple another person may see as irrational and difficult. In this way, we are stuck to the limits of what we can prove about our existence and what we can agree upon with others. What may seem to one person as disagreeable in another, may simply be a person using their intelligence in ways which we cannot understand. It may be a universal truth, then that what we can all agree on is that we will disagree.
To see someone like Morrison, who constantly clashed with authority and fought the conventions of society, reminds us that we must agree that we will not always see things the same way as others. If we can grasp this concept fully in another person’s life, we can surely grasp it in our own. We can value others for their struggle to be who they are and to stand for something. We can appreciate conformity through seeing nonconformity and we can appreciate silence by listening to music. Sometimes we can learn more about things from looking at the extremes and opposites of what we have and what we do not have.
For Jim life was a constant struggle to reconcile living with dying. His poems and songs are wrought with themes of death and destruction of madness and sanity. It may be stated that he wished to appreciate his life more by understanding death and he wished to appreciate his mind and his intelligence by studying themes of insanity and inducing drug and alcoholic states of numbness. There is a lesson to life in this behavior, as well. It is like the phrase that many of our elders like to teach to us, that we want what we do not or cannot have.
This is especially important to college students, as many of us are confused in what to study and what to be once we are graduated. It is this fear that prevents all success in life. We are afraid that if we chose a career path that we might want to change our minds, so we tend to make hasty decisions just to get to over with, so to speak. The rumination over choices that present themselves as black and white, right or wrong type of thinking can hinder our growth. There is that gray area in between all things that we must explore.
Though we do limit ourselves and become somewhat constrained once we do make a choice, the discovery of what we decide to do is an amazing journey and we must appreciate that. The journey of an entire life, the biography of another, interesting person is something that is important for all of us to look at. When we become mired in our thinking, unable to be creative or objective, we can take a step back and see how another person survived their struggle and then how they died from it or in spite of it. In this case, Morrison decided that he would taunt and tease his worst fears and he died from the excesses of this struggle.
Morrison explained, “expose yourself to your deepest fear, after that fear has no power and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes” (Crisafulli, 2000). I believe that if we understand our fears then, indeed, we can overcome them. But if we constantly expose ourselves to our fears and the negative thoughts that arise from combating the deepest and darkest corners of the imagination then we are inviting chaos into our lives. Though Jim seemed to be a master of harnessing his inner chaos into his art, we must all of us, understand that we have limits on what we can make out of our turmoil.
If we are seeking a simple understanding and a sense of finality to our fears and not making art with our deep imaginations, then we must be careful to not live to hard to fast and to wait patiently for understanding to emerge in our lives. I believe that for some, patience is a near to impossible state of being. We may feel that we have to rush our lives to complete everything there is to do and that there are not enough hours in the day. We may miss true beauty and opportunity if we think this way. Jim lived a hard and fast life, though he paused to make beautiful music and poetry.
It may be, though, for the conflicted artist, that he had no choice but to create his work. Many interesting people feel this way, that they have no choice in there lives and that they were born to do certain things in their lives. Some are luckier than others to be enlightened to their life’s purpose early on. Others, like myself, must wait patiently for that moment of understanding and the sense of serenity and purpose that comes with our life’s work being laid out in front of us. I think that many people are rushed to get to that moment of knowing what to do with our lives and we may be so eager that we miss the moment.
There is also another distinct possibility for all of us, who are patiently or not so patiently waiting for our purpose to present itself. This may be as it may have been for Jim, that our purpose in life is to deal with the extreme nature of the human condition. This is a certain fear for me, as I know it is for others. We may have to go down a path of misery. What then? Will we manage to do this in a way of sobriety? There are so many questions and the more we know about others and our world, the more we question ourselves.
We may feel ready to tackle our own selves and our own fears, but what if we fear ourselves and our ability to carry out the plans that the most confusing universe has set out in front of us? I believe that Jim Morrison was made more confused in his life by the more he learned and that we must not be afraid of the questions. I think that even more, we must not be afraid of the answers. What we must do is realize that there will come a time before our own deaths to relax and that is when we are satisfied that we did ask all the right questions and that we did our due diligence to find all the answers.
I must close by saying that reviewing the life of Jim Morrison has been interesting and personally fulfilling. Any intelligent and creative person’s life is useful to explore, especially a life that is cut short by an untimely death. What we could have become in our own lives is magnified by what others could have been if they had lives to see it. In this way, it is essential to live life to the fullest and act as if we are constantly writing our own biography. We must be careful in what we do and we must be patient, but we cannot be so careful as to miss out on the joy of pushing the limits of our own lives and of our surroundings.
We must all trust ourselves enough to do this and we will be most surprised once we do and we begin to trust and respect all those that came before us and all those that will pass behind us in our lives. Works Cited C Cristafulli, The Doors When The Music’s Over: The Stories Behind Every Song, 2000, New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth. Kirijasto, “James Douglas ’Jim’ Morrison”, 2000, Accessible Online http://kirjasto. sci. fi/morrison. htm, last accessed 2 March, 2009.
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