By James Wallace Harris, Monday, March 28, 2016
A friend of mine, before he died, called me to talk about life. His name was Williamson, and he was depressed. This was back on the first night of the Gulf War. Williamson said something then, a quarter century ago, that has always stuck with me. He said he was down to loving only two things in life. Benny Goodman and Duane Allman. I had gone to see The Allman Brothers with Williamson when Duane Allman was till alive. That was a long time ago. Williamson and I were buddies for a while in the 1970s, and we went different ways when I got a steady job.
Williamson hated working, always telling friends, “A job a good way to waste a life.” He spent his life avoiding the old nine to five, choosing to pursue endless hobbies and schemes hoping they’d pay off. They never did. I was surprised to hear from Williamson in August of 1990. The decades had changed him, and he was quite bitter. He called me a few times after that, and then disappeared. I heard later he died under mysterious circumstances.
I now worry when a friend tells me they are getting tired of things they used to love. I call it The Williamson Effect. I’m known to be a naturally happy person, even though I love to write about depressing subjects. I don’t know if I’m happy because of genes, or because I’m constantly searching out new things to love. Whenever I hear a friend suffering from The Williamson Effect I encourage them to try new things, especially music. I’m always amazed how a new artist and their music can revitalize my thinking.
I tried to convince Williamson that there was more to music than Benny Goodman and Duane Allman. He only sneered and belittled my then current favorites. Benny Goodman and Duane Allman are still on my main Spotify playlist, but so are Katy Perry and Sarah Jaffe, and I’m still living.
4 thoughts on “The Williamson Effect–Losing Interest in Life”
I really loved this this. It made me think how short and fragile life CAN be…and how quickly the time runs out for us all
Thomas Hardy was never happier than when writing a tragic poem! It’s heartbreaking to watch a friend make a virtue out of rejecting the very techniques they need most, and suffer so deeply as a result.
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929
US author & journalist (1899 – 1961) Williamson watched his wife die a slow agonizing cancer death….for many of us there is only one women in our adult life …when and if we lose her there is no future.
Great quote from Hemingway, and rather ironic, since he killed himself. Yes, it’s hard to survive alone, but not impossible, but I still have my wife, so I can’t say. I realized from your dates that Hemingway was younger than me when he died.