People often ask questions about what defines them as a person, their lives, their personalities. In order to gain a point of reference from which to draw as an example, we often like to break our lives down into simple analogies. I have always thought my life has been best defined by a year. That may be cheating, because so much can be encompassed in a single year, but it’s the comparison with which I’ve always been most comfortable.
I’ve never been big on reading. I have too much ADD to sit through an entire book, but I have read about 20 or so, since I was a teen. I have always been fascinated though, by movies and books that foretell the future. George Orwell’s 1984 of course, was the first of these. We were required to read the book for school. I didn’t. Although, I watched the movie and it left very little impression on me. Space 1999, 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact also fascinated me. Although, to be honest, I didn’t really like any of them. They’re all a little too ethereal for my tastes.
I turned 14 in 1984 and music really became a large part of my life. That’s not unusual, but 1984 left such a lasting impression on me that when someone asks me when a classic movie, show or song came out, my default answer is 1984, or if I want to err on the safe side I’ll say 1986. Some may say it’s because I’m stuck in the 80’s, but I don’t see it that way. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be as eclectic about my music as I am now, nor would I be the extreme technophile that I’ve become.
I started Grade 10 in 1984 and my sense of independence was just starting to develop. It’s a crucial age for a lot of people, when a person’s spirit is often strengthened or broken. In my case, it was the year I started to realize that my peers were shallow and vacant. Their opinions no longer mattered to me and I was starting to develop real relationships, strong friendships and characteristics that I have maintained well into my adult life. I was growing up quicker than most of my classmates, mainly because I did not have a happy home life. I had a lot of anger issues and my animosity towards my father was immense. However, I met my best friend that year, who has remained a constant in my life, ever since.
I stopped caring what others thought and started to develop my own tastes, a personal sense of expression and a strength of character that I never had, previously. The music I listened to was a clear indication of the direction I was taking.
I became a lifelong fan of Bruce Springsteen and his career hit it’s peak in 1984, with the release of Born in the USA. Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince were also superstars, then. Music I enjoy, but didn’t wholeheartedly adopt. I preferred the classic albums of AC/DC and the next year I found my favourite Canadian artist, Gowan.
Every generation of teenagers feels like they’re rebels, rejecting the conventions of their parents. It’s not that music is any more anti-establishment now than it was in the 60’s, but in each era, every teen will find the most comfortable level of release and expression in the artists from which they have to choose. I found mine in several artists. Between Bruce, AC/DC and Gowan I found the qualities in music that enveloped the majority of my interests and still do, to this day.
Shows like Miami Vice, V and Blue Thunder kept action fans intrigued; comedies like Night Court and Cheers kept us in stitches. On the movie scene we were introduced to the Terminator, Nightmare on Elm Street, the second Indiana Jones movie, Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, Gremlins; the third Star Trek movie, the Search for Spock; the cult classic Dune and the second Conan movie. I have always been a fan of science fiction, because of the sense of escapism that it affords us; the strong sense of right and wrong that Hollywood action heroes encapsulate and my own need at that point, to seek release for the anger I had.
I’m well into my 40’s now. My taste in music and movies hasn’t changed much; although, the quality of acting and special effects, complex plot lines and superior technology has made for an entertainment experience that is far superior to anything of the past.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel to the opposite side of the world, meet incredible people and experience a different culture. I’ve had reasonable success in my career and have a very happy home life. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for more than 20 years and we have a son who is making us proud and excelling in everything he does. My successful family life is my greatest achievement and all of that happened well after 1984, but the seeds of the character I was to become grew there.
In 1983 I was still a child. I still feared my father and followed the crowd. I didn’t think for myself or have any specific interests that I wanted to follow. I remember few things from my childhood. It wasn’t exceptionally happy either, but it also wasn’t horrible. My parents loved my sister and I; we had everything we could ever need and went on fantastic summer vacations; but outside of that, I remember very little of my formidable years.
In 1984, that would start to change, significantly. By the time I was 17 I had met the love of my life and realized I was a huge fan of technology, with a greater aptitude for it than most, and was well on my way to choosing a career path. I remember far more of the things that happened in my life from that point onward. So, while I’m a far different person now than I was in 1984, it’s that year that I can relate to the most.
Can you define yourself by a year?