As kids, our parents decided where we’d go for vacations. For many of us, that usually meant traveling by car. If we were fortunate, we got to travel by plane and walk off with tin wings pinned to our shirt–and that made us hot stuff. But we don’t need a visa stamp, or t-shirt, or pin to prove we’ve been some place. Journeys aren’t defined by physical space, and in that sense travel knows no boundaries.
This morning I woke to the news that Ray Manzarek, original founder of The Doors, had died and it took me back to my first solo trip. It wasn’t on a plane, train or automobile. In fact, I was lying on my bed when I heard the opening chords to Light My Fire drifting out of my older brother’s bedroom. The sounds of Manzarek’s Vox Continental organ were dark and moody and my mind quickly welcomed them. I hadn’t yet heard anything like it and that sound invited thoughts and feelings I’d never experienced. My mind took off and I didn’t need a license, ticket or passport to get there. My brother turned me on to a lot of music but my apprenticeship under him of The Doors was like an unchartered journey. Jim Morrison might have been front and center but remove the unique sound of Manzarek and The Doors become unhinged.
It’s a bittersweet day for Doors’ fans but Manzarek is another great example of why it’s so important to learn and adapt to new things. His talent, combined with those of his band mates, made if difficult to peg The Doors as just another rock band. The man was constantly innovating, learning and experimenting. After The Doors disbanded, he continued to play and collaborate with other bands and musicians. Jazz, poetry, and books…the man had it going on. The Light My Fire lyrics, “the time to hesitate is through; no time to wallow in the mire,” may have been written about passion but they easily apply to all of us, travel agents included, who suffer from any form of inertia when it comes to learning something new that might help unleash our potential. There are no boundaries, only the ones we make for ourselves.
“Once you open the doors of perception,” Manzarek said, “the doors of perception are cleansed, they stay cleansed, they stay open, and you see life as an infinite voyage of joy and adventure and strangeness and darkness and wildness and craziness and softness and beauty.”
I spent time on The Crystal Ship long before I boarded any cruise ship. I’ll miss you Ray, thanks for the never-ending journey.
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE.
Whether or not you liked The Doors, the intro to “Light My Fire” is readily identifiable across age groups, and it defines a specific period in American popular culture. Ray Manzarek is a terrific example of a talented individual evolving with the changing times, while exploring and pushing, the boundaries of his talent.