In the past decade, I’ve crossed-off a bunch of epic rock concerts from my bucket list. When I was growing up in Tel Aviv during the eighties, I could only dream of seeing bands like AC/DC or Deep Purple perform live, and moving to New York has made it possible. Each summer, I rushed to see all the giants of Rock’n’Roll before they disappear for good. I saw performances of hair-bands, of one-hit bands, and of some of the true classics of rock, but somehow I missed the band that’s been around the longest - The Rolling Stones. As the years went by, the list became shorter, and the cravings for the shows weakened. Eventually, I moved back with my family to Tel Aviv, and stopped going to concerts.
And then, the Stones came to town.
Yesterday night, I found myself in a car together with a bunch of American expats going to see them perform in Tel Aviv. Riding towards the stadium in the family car were a clinical psychologist, the CFO of a technology company, and a research biologist, all of us midlife men on our way to join 50,000 fans who came to see the founding fathers of rock music. The conversation quickly turned to the band members’ age. Some of the guys have seen them play years before, and we were all wondering whether the Stones still have the stage energy that they are so famous for. Mick Jagger just turned seventy, and he recently also became a great grandfather.
Then we got there, the lights went out, and the band started playing. Jagger - skinny, sassy, and bold, ran frantically through side to side on the stage, dancing, jumping, and twisting. It was Rock’n’Roll as it should be: energetic, loud, and powerful, but also unpretentious and effortless. Cool. At the end of each song Keith Richards spontaneously combusted with laughter, gazing at the immense audience and taking in their love as if it was his first time on stage. At some point he turned to the microphone and said: “You know, it’s fun to be here, but hey – it’s fun to be anywhere”, and burst out in laughter again.
On the way back, stuck in traffic, my psychologist friend and I tried to boil down the essence of the incredible experience we just had. The show was the ultimate Rock’n’Roll intervention, beyond the production, the sound, and the visual effects, there was something raw and primal simple about it – a sense of pure joy, enthusiasm, or “zest”. A trait that Coach Caroline Miller often describes as the basis of all positive change. Here is what she told me when she and I met during Ride of Your Life:
The antidote to the fear is zest — a quality that is in abundance in children but declines rapidly by the time you’re in your forties and fifties. You need a certain amount of zest, or joie de vivre. “Why not?” as opposed to “why?“ A lot of people have that beaten out of them by life, by disappointments, by people who surround them.
Zest is what this music is about, and the reason why it feels so good to listen to it.
Back home after the show, I crossed off another item from my bucket list, and made a big mental note to inject a little childlike enthusiasm in everything I do. To not take myself too seriously. Be cool like the Stones. Perhaps, if you try sometime, and do it with joy, you might find that you actually get what you want.