I started playing guitar in various bands in my 20's, during the big-hair 80's. While my hair was pretty long back then, and I thought of myself as a liberal progressive, looking back it's obvious to me that I was much more conservative in my views than I would have believed. I was the only one in my circle of musician friends and associates who liked President Reagan, for instance. Also, everyone else had a pierced ear and a tattoo or two, but I never did. I just figured I was being a pussy about it.
Over the years I came to recognize how conservative my values were, and learned that being conservative didn't automatically mean that I was a mean-spirited bastard with a heart of stone, although those are the preconceived notions most liberals would blindly apply to me just for admitting it. I've portrayed myself to the world as the quiet, professional type who dresses conservatively and avoids any kind of outrageous appearance. The only exception to this was the few years that I shaved my head, but that was mostly a response to how fucked up my hair looked after it started falling out.
I'm less than a month away from my 50th birthday as I write this. I've re-immersed myself in my music since my divorce, and I believe that I'm writing my best songs to date. I also decided that I was tired of my plain vanilla-ness, and it was time to take more risks while I was still young enough to enjoy doing so. That's why I gave myself a long-awaited present just after Christmas, and got my ear pierced. Big deal, right?
I know that in this modern era, a single pierced ear and no tattoos is hardly considered very rebellious. But considering how I've refrained from exhibiting any kind of wild streak for so many years, it's still very liberating for me. Those who know me either smirk and make some kind of comment about a mid-life crisis, or genuinely smile and appreciate what I've done, and what I overcame to do it (surprisingly, my mother was among the latter). And even though body piercings and numerous tattoos are now often considered practically mainstream, I'm still pretty plain-vanilla with my little loop hanging from my earlobe - but it's a big deal for me and a first step toward shedding a lot of inhibitions with which I've chosen to contain myself for so long. I'm even ready to get some ink on me, if only I can find something that I can live with - I hate cartoon tattoos, which describes most of them in my opinion. But one step at a time.