Bruce Springsteen has a song off of “The Rising” called “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” It is too easy for me to say it’s amazing song- because it is. It’s simple and beautiful, bright and sweet. I love it. Yet I don’t just love it for the reasons just listed. I love it because of the way it makes me feel- indestructible. It makes me feel like there is nothing in the world that can bother me, bring me down, hurt me, or slow me up. It’s bulletproof music and in this Ryno’s opinion, it’s the best kind of music there is.
My Uncle John abruptly passed away in April of 2009 and I was way across the country in lovely San Diego, finishing up a knockdown, drag out, lose my sanity three weeks working on the Red Bull Air Race. I was a beaten down dude who was tired and anxious to fly to Salt Lake, drink some beers in the mountains before hopping in a truck and driving East. But those plans changed when Mom called around 9:30 a couple nights before departure, telling me that Uncle John had passed away. I was lost and any semblance of sanity I had was shot. Sentences were hard to form and despite having spent my entire life being short, I felt miniature.
The next day was clean up day down at the airport I was working at- a dusty & rusty little airport a decent stones throw from old Mexico. If I stopped to think, I started to cry. I could barely hold it together and was having trouble comprehending that after a three weeks of endless plans and schedules, I know how to change yet another plan and create another schedule as I was to now head to Maine. I was done. Dad kept saying to look up flights, but my hands wouldn’t work and if they did, they were millions of miles away from my brain. Something so simple became one of the most complicated things in the whole wide world. Finally I told him I couldn’t do it and thankfully, he found a flight for me. At that point, I just needed to be pushed in a certain direction. I could no longer decide on my own which way I should go next, just that I should.
I had to keep moving, I had to keep busy. Uncle John loomed large, much larger than the hot Southern California sun. I put on headphones and started blasting music- playing it almost as loud as those little Apple buds would let me. Then I spent the next four hours driving around our little area at the airport in each of the 5 forklifts we had on site- picking up everything from jersey barriers to trash to light towers. I was singing loudly- loudly enough for the few security staff we had on site to hear me.
My singing only got louder when “Waiting on a Sunny Day” came on and when it was finished, I listened to it again. And again and again and again. I must have listened to that song 10 to 15 times in a row. It was the only thing that made sense to me and it was the only thing that allowed me to think about something happy. The sky was blue and there were only a few clouds. I was in the middle of a sunny day, but stuck very much waiting for a literal sunny day to come.
Days passed and since then, months and years have passed and I still listen to that song just as much and frequently just as loud. Now it reminds of being down, of being so beaten down and beaten up that it seemed like sunny days would be forever out of reach. It’s bullet proof music because it makes me realize that when I need to be, I can be bullet proof. The song won’t bring back Uncle John and sadly nothing will. But it will always bring back his memory and the memory of that one day in sunny San Diego.
Waiting on a sunny day on the sunniest and the good ones always go too soon. Life is hard and is hardest when you’re down. That’s why we need bullet proof songs, good headphones and if possible, a small fleet of forklifts to drive. Life will only get you if you let it. Fight back and it’ll stick with you forever.
Love you Uncle John and thanks Bruce.