The Grand Illusion

By: Lori Walker

(4 min read)

It’s Summer! Time for outdoor concerts, festivals, food trucks and fun!

I’ve already confessed that I’m an 80’s hair-band kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all genres of music, but I can’t help my guilty pleasure of classic rock.

I mentioned in my last blog that my parents have a camp about 100 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My father is an avid hunter and fisherman. When I was growing up, I watched my friends go on elaborate summer vacations. Ocean City, Myrtle Beach, even The Outer Banks!

Our family went camping. As a little girl, it was cool, but as a teenager? LAME! I didn’t get it. Why would you drive to the woods to get away from people? I’m already laughing at myself for that last sentence…

Camp has become our sacred place. In fact, there is a Family Rule that is strictly enforced. When you drive under a certain bridge on Route 380 in New Kensington, you are required to officially leave all your cares and worries behind. No baggage allowed.

As you breeze through the rolling hills and into the lush, green mountains, the radio station choices become scarce. The local favorite, with the best signal, is Mega Rock 105.5. I love cruising with the windows down, singing along to the songs of my youth like I’m a featured artist on James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke. Haha!

Back in January, I heard an advertisement for a summer concert series called the Monsters of Rock Fest. Over the course of three days, it promised six cover bands: Guns N’ Roses, Styx, Queen, Van Halen, Kiss and AC/DC. I had to be a part of this! I bought my weekend pass and put in my vacation request at work.

Oh, my, it was fun! All the bands were in full costume, which made their mini-concerts even more enjoyable. They all sounded fantastic, paying homage to the bands they represented. But, with that being said, my favorite memory had nothing to do with their performances.

In between the Van Halen and Kiss sets, I sought shelter from the heat under a grandstand at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. My cell phone service was spotty, but I managed to catch up on some Facebook posts.

I was minding my own business, when two young gentlemen stopped their bicycles to approach me. If I had to guess their ages, one was eight and the other, twelve. They were more than likely brothers. The older one simply said, “We have a question for you. Who do you think is a better band? Queen or AC/DC? He likes Freddie Mercury, but I like the lead singer of AC/DC.”

At this point, I’m beside myself! I’m thrilled to have been chosen to ‘settle a bet’ between this duo. I took my role very seriously. I said, “They are both skilled in their own way. For me, personally, Freddie Mercury’s voice is easier to listen to. But I like them both! I can’t decide!”

That’s when the younger one asked, “OK, but who do you think is a better singer? Freddie Mercury or Michael Jackson?” Where did that come from? I’m floored! An eight-year-old! I made a split-second decision to give this inquisitive kid something to think about.

I said, “That’s a tough one. Michael Jackson was known as the King of Pop. Hey, did you know that Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo in one of his most popular songs, Beat It? Go ahead, look it up!”

The look on his face was priceless. Contemplative. Hmmm…I want to believe that he investigated my suggestion after our conversation!

My ulterior motive for this event was to find the perfect song title for this story. I love bells and whistles. However, the empath in me looks for just the right poetic lyrics to really move someone, the way words move me.

The answer came as I was listening to the live version of the Styx song, The Grand Illusion.

I’ve had a recurring theme lately. I compare my life to other people’s social media posts. It appears that everyone else has it all together with their jet-setting, white picket fence, perfect lives. And then there’s me. Still struggling with guilt, self-doubt and even loneliness at times. That’s when I closed my eyes and let the words sink in.

Just remember that it’s a Grand Illusion, and deep inside we’re all the same…Dennis De Young.

We are all at different places on our journey. We aren’t meant to be the same. We are here to learn from all our experiences, whether it’s the hardships or the windfalls of good fortune.

Find your sacred place, where you can escape from the world, just for a little while. Or enjoy a pleasant conversation with a close friend, sharing funny little stories or memories that make you laugh. Either choice will help you feel a little more connected to the world and to each other. It’s the simple things that we will always remember.

Lori Walker
All Things Wellness, LLC

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