Bruce Springsteen and the Couch On Top of the Car

“Adult life is dealing with an enormous amount of questions that don’t have answers. I don’t deny anything. I don’t advocate anything. I just live with it.” – Bruce Springsteen

What would my life look like without binge-eating? What would I do with my time and – most importantly – who would I be?

These are the questions that keep me “trapped in my disease” as we like to say in 12-step groups. In normal language: eating huge amounts of food alone and then sleeping it off.

You haven’t heard from me lately because I’ve been binge-eating and when I binge I don’t write, I don’t exercise, I don’t show up to work at times. I don’t function.

If there’s one thing I know is that binge-eaters tend to be black-or-white thinkers: If I eat one thing off my food plan, I’ve blown it and might as well eat everything I can possibly shove in my stomach for the rest of the day. Because tomorrow, I will start again.

It’s the lie that gets me every time.

I hate to be negative and whiny … but if one can’t get negative and whiny about eating one’s self to death, then what else could possibly qualify? So bear with me in this post as I’m not my normal chipper self.

However …

I’ve been listening to the autobiography of Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run, narrated by the Boss himself.

Bruce describes a time in his life when he was 19 years old, in the late sixties, a recent high school grad and a flagrant misfit in Freehold, New Jersey, the hometown he both loves and hates. He’s discovered his passion for the guitar but hasn’t yet found his way.

Bruce’s parents and baby sister Meg have just moved to California and Bruce is alone in this city. He doesn’t know what he wants to do but he definitely doesn’t want to go to California. He stays in his parent’s home and invites his friends to join him: a motley crew of band mates, hippies, mechanics and transients he’s met on the CB Radio.

Within one month, the landlord evicts him.

Bruce and the misfits move out in the middle of the night, throwing everything into somebody’s station wagon, strapping the couch on top of the roof, and then Bruce on top of that.


And that’s how the future Boss – a man who would one day sell over 135 million albums, win 20 Grammys, two Golden Globes, one Tony and one Academy Award; a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama – leaves his hometown: on a couch on top of a station wagon.

He’s terrified. As the stars fly by in the black sky above him, Bruce realizes that his life in Freehold is done. His family is gone and he is heading straight into the great, literal unknown.

But then, as the car keeps moving and he recognizes he’s no longer in Freehold, Bruce speaks of feeling as if he’s being visited by a sense of his future self, a presence both exciting and free, a lightness that replaces his terror.

“It was exhilarating,” he writes.

And I thought as I sniffed, so moved by this image, “Maybe that can be me.”

Maybe I can stop mourning for what’s done and get excited about what’s ahead … even if I have no idea what that is.

Bruce Springsteen turned out okay. Maybe I will, too.

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