Last night I was lazing on the sofa with a cup of Chai tea and the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe, the day itself had been fruitful. A 20km run, a nap, a movie and a trip to the bibliotheque. I'd read the classic Poe stuff in my teenage years and was moved by its vividness. Seeing it call out from a library shelf I decided to revisit his work, as I have done with a lot of the classics recently. I was struck by the difference in my perspective now as opposed to half a life a go, that got me thinking about other things too, not just literature, but all aspects of my life.

I am a major Pearl Jam fan and have been called obsessive by ex-girlfriends, friends, parents, siblings and even other Pearl Jam fans. That description is accurate, or was accurate. I had a bee in my butt to meet those guys for years, back in 2006 me and my best friends, Dave and Trev, attended a show at an intimate London venue called the Astoria. They went to take a leak out the back of the concert hall and found the door ajar. They pried it open and legged it up some stairs before happening upon Pearl Jam's dressing room door. They knocked and entered to find the band chilling out, they met them, had a quick picture taken and came back to show all the fans in the queue. Roars of disbelief and applause emanated from the crowd. They were slapped on the back and congratulated, it was a beautiful moment. Not for me. Drunk, jealous me sat there on the curb, head in hands and would've swung for anyone who touched me. These were my best friends in the world, I knew in the bottom of my heart I was happy for them but jealousy overtook that and ruined my moment, I know it probably dampened theirs too. A few days later Trev made it possible for me to meet their singer and drummer at a BBC event. I was so happy, but Stone Gossard, the guitarist was my hero, scratch that, a god. I worshipped him growing up. Posters all over my bedroom walls, trying to find the same t-shirts he wore, collecting articles on him. Meeting him would send me into Beetle-mania-type-shock. It was not to be, no biggie but it would have been a highlight of my life.

Last month Stone Gossard's other band, Brad, played a show at the tiny La Trabendo venue in northern Paris. I went to the venue early and after waiting about twenty minutes near their tour bus he appeared. I approached him and asked if we could chat. He was cool with that and we talked about music (not Pearl Jam) and Paris. I got a picture taken with him and after that he got back on the bus. I was happy, but not as happy as an obsessive fan should feel. He reappeared after a while with the drummer, Regan, and said they were going to eat. They asked where was good so I volunteered to take them to a place where they would avoid the majority of fans. We went to a pizza joint and sat down for a coffee whilst they waited for food. Banter and sarcasm was exchanged and when the food was ready they went back to the bus, I waited for a friend. The greatest realisation of that whole experience was not that he was a famous rock star that I'd knelt at the altar of for so many years, it was that he is just a man. A man with a great job and people who look up to him, but he is still just a man. The humanity of the encounter reinforced the view that all of us are equal. Having the veil of alcoholism lifted from ones vision is astoundingly epiphany-like. The veneer of wealth, status, hierarchy, discrimination is stripped away when you look at people as equals.

Stone Gossard and I. Photo: M McLoughlin

Perspective comes with age and experience and the great thing about it is that ten or fifteen years from now my views will have changed further, and for the better, I hope. Realising that I am learning made me think of a few things on my trail run this morning, the following are random ideas whilst scrambling down single-track in the fresh Spring air.

  • All humans are equal
  • False gods are just that, false.
  • The real folks to admire are probably right under your nose.
  • Don't use the words love and adore too flippantly, people get hurt if we say things we don't really mean. I know, I’ve done it in the past
  • Embrace the happiness of your friends, jealousy is a poisonous chalice.
  • Acquaintances are not friends.
  • Better to have a small group of people who love you for who you are, not what they want you to be.
  • You are as talented as anyone else out there, you just may have not found your talent yet.
  • We were all created differently, so we could all have a role.
  • Encourage those you love.
  • Tell those you love, that you love them.