You have to read this one…

•August 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is actually a response sent in from the silent masses. Instead of just “OK’ing” this, I took the liberty to post the story. I don’t take credit for it. It was written by someone very close to me and I’m not sure if she wants her name put up here or not. It’s a wonderful story and the kind that I’d love for all of you to submit. These little moments of grace and humanity tie us together whether we like it or not. Here you go…

I don’t think that my moment will have had such a profound effect for the future generations you got to touch. That’s pretty awe inspiring. A long time ago (in a land far away called “Evergreen Park”), we had a patient that was very confused. He would yell and fuss all day and well into the night. I believe that the surrounding patients were beginning to form a slightly non-approved plan of retaliation. His family stayed most of the day and evenings to remind him that he was alright. But the nights started to become brutal. I was humming a Christmas tune when I checked on him one night. He admonished me for being so out-of-tune. Humbugger, thought I. Then I asked how he had become a music authority. He told me that he was a music teacher (he forgot that he retired 10yrs earlier), and that I was horribly off-key. Ahhh. The light switched ‘on’. We had a tape player for the Christmas holidays. I found the instrumental Christmas tape and popped it in and put the player right under his pillow. He had a complete transformation at that moment. The hands stopped trying to pull out every tube so that they could direct the music he was hearing. No need for restraints, or drugs. Just music. It became a mission for the nurses to find music that he would love. He sang to us in a voice that told you that he felt and meant every note. when we turned the volume down at night, he somehow knew to keep the singing volume low, as well. I was bathing him the night before he was being discharged and had him pick a tape. I swear truthfully to that night’s finale. It was one of those snows that muffles out all the other noises and then starts to gently fall. I’m noticing this when he starts to sing Little Drummer Boy. Darn it if I wasn’t a weepy nurse right then. To this day, it still gets me. I may have found a way to ease his anxiety and anger; but this confused and very ill man taught a whole unit of nurses something nursing school never could. His spirit touched our lives.

Indeed…Thanks, Love. I love your heart.

True story…

•June 30, 2010 • 3 Comments

…for you all

I like to think about why I’m here. I like to think about why we’re here. This, however, always leads to huge, colossal, black monolith in the sky ponderings. Typically, at this point I lose interest. I’ve yet to find an answer that truly satisfies me. Admittedly, I’m very self centered so if the answer doesn’t spin and dance baby dance around me, I’m not typically inclined to add it to any level of my reality.

Regardless, it’s still fun from time to time, to play with the possibilities.

One of my favorite scenarios is that “butterfly effect” thing. You know the one. It’s where if you fart in a high wind on Thursday the Queen of England chooses chicken over fish at a public dinner. Seemingly random but if you’re able to trace the steps back, you start to see cause and effect. “Hindsight” and all that.

I kind of have a feeling mankind in general has gotten a little cocky and it’s sort of satisfying to think of a pattern existing that man can’t wrap his head around. We may be at the top of the food chain, but have you seen how steep that pyramid thing is?  I can imagine the universe thumbing its’ nose at us. It cracks me up.

Another of the fun ones (and the one we’ll speak of tonight) is the “we’re here to do one thing” mindset. This one consists of the idea that our whole life’s purpose will come down to one moment in time. One thought. One action. One pivotal point in your soon to be personal history. I have to admit that I like this one a lot as well, but it scares the crap out of me. You know that saying, “When your ship comes in you’ll be at the airport”? That’s me. Totally.

And are you the person that needs to know when you’ve fulfilled your destiny? I think most of want to know, but would soon be driven mad by said “knowing”. Think it through, you’ve just reached the pinnacle of your life, the top of the top, the snowy peak from where you look down upon all your other accomplishments… Now what? Beer and brats? I think not. Probably sit on the porch and wait for the end. You might be a “Type A” person and think you can strive and run and fight and accomplish. And you might do those things but at the end of the day that little voice in your head will always be there chuckling.

Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes my friends.

I’m visiting my mothers house in the mid part of fall. Where I live that means people are starting to wear heavier clothes even in the sunshine. They’re using words like “winterizing and “bags of salt”.  The motorcycles are being flushed or run dry. We’re gearing up and hunkering down. It’s sunny but only about 42 degrees outside. (Fahrenheit. We don’t do Celsius. Really) My visit has ended and I’m walking out the door to my car thinking of the afternoon and all its “to-do” items left unaddressed as of yet. Could be a long day I decide. I have the pleasure and convenience of living just a few short blocks from my mothers house. With all the things left to do it’s a small blessing. I make my way away from the curb and head down the street. Prioritizing things in my head, I can make out the corner coming up. I know you all know what I mean when I speak of a route driven so often that you often don’t really see it. Sometimes you can arrive at your destination and not have any distinct memory of your trip. This is very much like that.

The things that stand out for us are the out of the ordinary. Those things that are not there every trip.

The intersection coming up is a three way. All side streets. Think small neighborhood. Sitting in the intersection is a brown and white bag skittering slowly with the wind. It’s small enough to drive over but big enough to be concerned with what it contains and what it might do to my car. I’m almost on top of it now and have decided to just drive right over it when it looks up at me with the most frightened liquid brown eyes I’ve ever seen in my life.

People recounting accidents, tragedies, and traumatic events often say things like, “it happened so fast…” and, “I don’t know what happened…”

This is that. Now I understand.

My grasp of time is pretty rock steady so I can tell you that in the space of one half second these things happened:

The bag turned into a two year old (at most) little girl.

My brakes did the absolute most important thing they ever did.

My eyes welled up with tears before my car stopped moving.

I quickly examined the fact that I’d almost run right over a little girl in the middle of the road and thought through not only what that would have done to her in her last second or so, but also what that would have meant to me and the rest of my life up to and including the ramifications that would have been borne by my loved ones.

The utter and complete horror of the previous bullet point made me almost throw up on myself.

I put my car in park.

I walked around to the front and there we were. She and I. I looked down at her and she just looked up at me. I’ve got to imagine that, on a small scale, by it’s incongruous/out of whack nature, it’s gotta’ be like walking around a corner of your house to see it engulfed in flames and enthusiastically burning down around your shoulders. It’s simply so weird that it’s a little difficult to react to with any kind of propriety.

Eventually it occurred to me to pick her up off the blacktop. (cuz’ I’m quick that way) As soon as I did I realized I didn’t have a flippin’ clue what to do next. I literally am standing there with this baby just turning circles in the road as if an answer was going to walk up to me as long as I’m facing the right direction. The little voice in my head finally spoke up, “…call the police…”

Uhh..oh yeah, right…

I called the police and they said, “Stay there, we’re on our way.” I swear I hear superhero music in the background and was envious for my own. In the meantime I thought I’d knock on a few doors and see if anyone knew her. I tried maybe three, maybe four doors and either they weren’t answered or they didn’t know (or care from what I could glean). Finally, a woman answered about 5 houses away from the intersection. By now the little girl had realized she didn’t know me and was crying and shivering from the cold. I had wrapped my jacket around her but she kept pushing it off. And by the way, did I mention her diaper? (no good deed goes unpunished) Anyway, I describe the situation to the woman and she acts the way I thought the first three or four should have. She ushers us in, takes the baby from my arms in a very loving way and grabs a little blanket to wrap around her. She doesn’t know the baby, but it doesn’t stop her from loving all over this girl. She goes into her kitchen to find something for her to drink and I’m left standing around in her living room.

I’m looking around while I’m waiting and start to notice things. An open greeting card on the bookshelf that reads, “ good luck you guys” and on the corner table a book on mothering. On another table a copy of a monthly parenting magazine. No sign of any children. No toys, messes, noise, messes, clothing, messes…you get the idea.

They come back into the room and I say I’ll go outside and wait for the police. The baby is quite content as I make my way outside and that’s just alright. I walk to the three way stop and just stand there staring at the spot where I found her. I found it absolutely amazing that I or someone else hadn’t run her over. A true chill that has nothing to do with the weather runs down my spine like someone poured ice water down my back.

While waiting a new sound enters my awareness. It sounds like a voice. It gets louder. It is a voice. A woman. In obvious distress. I can see through a couple yards and see a woman scrambling around her yard yelling something over and over. Yeah, you guessed it. It was the little girls mother. I yelled to her and she ignored me and started working her way toward the street. I finally got her attention and asked her if she was looking for a little girl. I simply can’t describe the look on her face when I told her I had found her daughter. None of my words will touch it. Suffice to say she was relieved. She started babbling about the door not locking and the girl never being curious like that before, etc., etc.

I took her to the womans house and there was a tearful reunion. Mother and daughter disentangled themselves from the situation and went home. No harm, no foul. The dust having settled and no police on the horizon we silently assented to call it. As I walked to the lady’s front door I looked back over my shoulder to the assorted “baby things” and then looked at her. She never said anything. She just smiled and I smiled back. There were probably a dozen different ways we could have ended the scenario but this seemed perfect.

She closed her door and I went home and finished my to-do list.

As I was shopping a couple weeks after that I happened on a little figurine. It was in a bin of socks, buried. It was a little girl at an intersection looking up a stop sign. I never even thought about it twice. I bought it along with my other things and took it home. I wrapped it and when I thought no one was home I put it in the lady’s mailbox. No card or “to/from”. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

As the weeks rolled by, of course I was tempted to ask her if she got it, but I knew she did. The only reason I wanted to ask was so she would thank me, so I didn’t confront her. I did, however, chuckle and smile when not long after that there were signs in her yard proclaiming, “IT’S A GIRL”.

As great an ending to a story as it would be, I must confess that I’ve driven by the little girls house a few times over the years and have never seen her. I can only imagine how beautiful those brown eyes grew up to be. I’d put her at about the same age as my youngest son… Perhaps one day they’ll meet and ….Wow, wouldn’t that be weird!

So, anyway, to bring all this back around, I do on a semi regular basis wonder if that moment, and that action and those decisions weren’t, in fact, my real reason for being here. Whether it was just getting that girl out of the road, or maybe re-igniting the desire in a pair of unsuccessful “wannabe parents” whose efforts hadn’t yet yielded anything. Or maybe even setting myself up for a future daughter in law with liquid brown eyes. My son wouldn’t stand a chance. Oh, my gosh, it’s no wonder I don’t sleep much. So… Lessons learned…hmmm. I guess I now know which neighbor I can go to in an emergency for sure. Or maybe people ought to lock their damn doors a little better. Perhaps something less prosaic.

I do know, that I keep this story in my pocket and pull it out to look at on days when I know I haven’t been the man that I want me to be and it makes me feel better.

Do you have any good stories in your pocket? I’d love to hear them…

I don’t usually do this…

•June 22, 2010 • 3 Comments

…this way.

I usually have something prepared before I even log on. But I’ve been a very busy little monkey lately and I feel as if I’ve turned my back on my writing here. So tonight I’m going “freestyle”. Stream of conciousness stuff. Well, not really that bad, but since you, silent masses, will ultimately make the final judgement on all this anyway, I suppose I digress.

Long story short, I’ve got a new job. I have taken on the task of “video coordinator” for a relief organization. A charity.

I gotta’ tell you guys, if my path gets any weirder, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to function. Seriously… a charity… me?

You see, I’m not a “nice” guy. Cynical gene is dominant in the DNA strand. Sympathy level is really…strike that, what sympathy? I just don’t do warm and fuzzy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t kick puppies, steal candy from children, or even cut in line when people aren’t looking, I’m just not, “warm and fuzzy”.

No apologies. I’m pretty content. But really I digress again. To my point.

I now spend an inordinate amount of time editing video footage that my organization collects while on trips to Haiti. I will say briefly, that it’s every bit as bad as you’ve been told and worse. I’ll not expound on that point because I’m certain you’ve all been inundated with information about all the hell holes of the world in it’s ever shrinking glory. Pictures, sound bytes and video images from places like the African continent, various places in Asia, Fresno California… just checking to see if you were paying attention.

Anyway, after spending x amount of hours per day, per week, etc watching these people living in absolute squalor and wretched conditions with absolutely no hope of anything more than extended bouts of heat and hunger, I started to get inured to it. As unbelievable as it was to me, one afternoon I was putting clips of video together that featured a man and his children (3). 6 yrs. and under. All with the distended bellies that signify malnutrition. It registered about halfway in that I wasn’t feeling anything at all. I had hit the “it’s just a job” zone.

Regardless of what I said earlier, I’m not an unfeeling monster. I should have been feeling something. (I wonder if nurses go through something like this?)

Anyway, it being my job and all, I continued on in methodic fashion for another  twenty minutes or so. Nothing of note, nothing out of the ordinary. You know, broken woman here, emaciated child there, etc… The camera panned from right to left attempting to take in all the people gathered in this village and as it did, something did catch my eye. It went so fast I had to stop and back the footage up a little. There she was. On a poor excuse for a chair placed on a poor excuse for a porch at the front of a poor excuse for a house/home, was an older woman. If she was younger than seventy two I’ll eat my hat. But it wasn’t her age that struck me it was her eyes and by extension, her face.

From where I sit in my reasonably appointed office, it’s virtually impossible for me to fathom the horrors this life had thrown her way. How many times had she gone to bed hungry in the space of 70 years or so? There’s a very, very real chance she’d lost children to starvation or disease. Honestly, the list goes on and on.  But bear with me here. It took me all of a split second to see that there was something different about her.

She sat there unfazed by what had transpired in her life. She sat there with a small smile on her face and simply watched. Took it all in. She was magic. Whatever spiritual armor she had donned before this day was unassailable. She did not ask for help. She did not plead with her eyes. On the contrary, they were fierce in the kind of joy for life that many of us simply can’t grasp or better yet, hold on to for very long.

I sat there in my chair transfixed by this woman. I realized that I wasn’t an unfeeling bastard. I had just gone to sleep to protect my heart from this “stuff”. I’m simply not a strong enough person to embrace all that heartache so closely every day. Day in and day out.

You’re probably thinking I’m going to end with this but I’m not. Because something else happened.

When I finally advanced the video forward to continue my task, I saw a man leaning against a broken down car. I stopped the video again. He was farther away so the quality of the image wasn’t as good, but it didn’t have to be. It wasn’t his eyes that spoke to who he was. It was his stance. His posture. He had one hand on the shoulder of a youngster and you could see a great many things by simply looking at the way he stood. He was obviously tried and tired, but that simply wasn’t the sum total of him. There was protectiveness for his child obviously, but there was also will. He was indomitable. Not in an arrogant, ugly, “I’ll kick your ass” sort of way, but in that way that simply spoke to his strength of spirit. He was beautiful.

I moved on. More and more in person after person, I began to see this magic in all of them. Unquenchable spirit in one followed by the unabashed joy of drawing another breath in the next. What grace. What power, what magic.  I was completely overwhelmed by a level beauty I never even knew existed. I said a quick “thank you” to God right then and there for allowing me the opportunity to see this. And for them as well. It was very much like having the cover of something lifted away for a moment. You get to briefly see the treasure inside.  Only God can give this kind of gift to them and to me.

Men simply can’t make this magic. It’s too big. We are from time to time, clever. And we have good hands sometimes, but really, I can’t even get good 3G coverage. Seriously. We just can’t impart that kind of shabby regality to any race as a whole.

My heart, broken again, I closed my laptop and walked away trapped between “surviving as numb-guy” and “partially awakened” to something that has always been there and I had not the eyes to see. It is unfortunate to go so long so blind, but I see a little better today then yesterday.

Imagine what tomorrow might bring…

Wheeee!…

I don’t sleep…

•April 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…well.

There are a number of contributing factors to this. Minor aches and pains, some plain old concerns, an over active imagination, and sometimes… I’m just my own worst enemy. Let’s suffice to say it’s a rare night when the monkeys in my head simply shut the hell up.

Over my sons Spring Break, my wife and I will let the reigns slip just a little on some things. Just like Summer Vacation. There’s no real set of rules and regulations that disappear. More like the fence on the corral expands one foot in all directions. So, it’s no surprise to see our son up a little later than is typical.

Being fine, fine American Parents, not only does television time go up a little, but I’ve also found that what I deem acceptable, mmm…. “wiggles” a little bit. But before you demonize me, keep in mind these are small changes and I know what he’s watching before he does it.

For instance… This week found his interest piqued by a show called, “Destination Truth”. Hey, what parent isn’t thrilled with this combination? Not only is my child interested in learning, but, if I’m not mistaken, the neighbor kids won’t get into this show at all. Do you know what that means? Quiet, quiet, quiet! Yay! The almost unknowable pleasure of a peaceful living room. Are you kidding me? I’ve no doubt there are afterworldly pleasures that await us when we leave here, but to not have to feel the crunch of strategically hidden Doritos under my feet as I walk through the front room… Sigh…(They hide them under the nap of the carpet lest they have to clean them up before escaping back to their underground lair 5 houses away.)They are two very individual children, as children are wont to be. (until they grow up and become grey like us that is) But I digress.

This show, this “Destination Truth” is at best formulaic and at worst… well… worse. Ostensibly, the leader and his band of truth seekers hop the globe in search of the truth that lies behind some of the greater known myths of our day. i.e. “The Jersey Devil”, etc, etc, etc… The events happen in the same sequence every episode. They are edited the same way every time. The “random” occurrences happen at the same point in every show and lastly, they save a metric ton of money, time and production effort by shooting 75 percent of the show in that stupid green “night vision” look. Blair Witch be damned.

I have seen this show and it’s got no chance of scaring anyone. It’s not even a proper ghost hunter show. My son and I have discussed this and we are in agreement. Simply not a spooky show.

Anyway, let’s call this day Thursday. My day is chock full of things both necessary and monumentally trivial. Some involve my son. Many do not. But that’s OK, because in a near blinding flash of prescience, I’ve recorded like 5 of these “Destination Truth” episodes on the DVR for just such an occasion.

I’m sorry, what’s that you say? Excuse me? Oh…you’re saying, “Surely, he didn’t let his 8 year old watch that much television, did he? And I say, “Let me ask you this… Can the Catholic church swing some damage control? Seriously. Can the current administrations health plan…nevermind. In short, yes, of course I did. In my defense, it’s not like they’re two hour episodes.

Stop judging me or I’ll cry.

…sniff…

Where were we? Oh, yeah. So the day has followed it’s path and it’s now getting on bed-time. The standard battle ensues, dwindling down slowly and painfully to the increasingly lame, “Oh, yeah. I forgot, I’m thirsty. I’m going to get a glass of water.” Then, of course, he leaves it on the kitchen counter so he can come out to it a number of times. Standard threats ensue, corresponding blood pressure levels are achieved and the night ends with, hugs, kisses, prayers and “love you big man, sleep good”.

The house breathes.

The wife breathes.

I breathe.

I now start to channel flip in earnest. Oh, yeah. Those juicy grown up shows are now open for perusal.

Game on.

What shall it be?

The adult animation? No… Death by re-run.

I know…. The sardonic wit of Gregory House. Nah, I just feel like smacking him tonight. Pompous idiot.

The “other” adult animation? Nope. Just can’t seem to re-kindle the interest there.

Hmmm…… What to do?

Ding! The DVR! How could I have forgotten God’s gift to the couch potato? After smacking myself, I massage the appropriate buttons in blinding speed. (Texters tremble before me!) And in no time at all I’m paging through my menu of personally chosen shows put back for just such a time. It’s like “canning” entertainment.

Hmm, what to watch…the full length drama? Nah, there’s just not enough of me left for that this evening. (and I hate watching a movie in two sittings) The rock concert at Wembley Stadium? Nope. Too late to “rock out”.

Anyway, to make a long story short, what fit the bill that night? You guessed it. Destination Truth.

Hindsight being as acute as it is, I couldn’t help later reflect on the fact that two hours ago I didn’t have it in me to watch a two hour movie, opting instead for two full hour episodes of video cattle food.

My wife and I are now giving in for the evening. I’ve had enough, she’s had enough and it’s going to feel really good to sleep. There are tossings and turnings. Mumbled epithets of undying love which we’re both sure we’ll demonstrate so much better after a few hours of sleep. The “did you let the dogs in? And did you lock the front door?” questions.

We sleep. It’s good.

Something flickers in my mind. Something changes. There is no dream to speak of. One of the predictable “startling moments” from Destination Truth pops into my head. I acknowledge the moment and give a silent chuckle and slip back down.

I sleep.

Something changes. Have you ever felt that? In the night when everything is just fine the air in your room changes? Or moves different? Or sounds different. Sometimes you can’t even say what it is but you know something’s not the way it was?

My eyes pop open. I give a quick scan of the room and the parts of the house that I can see. Nothing. I’m an idiot. I must have had too much iced tea before calling it a night. It’s made me jittery.

I sleep.

An image pops into my mind. In one of the Destination Truth shows, there was a grotesque image of some “demon thing” behind a store counter. It had nothing to do with the show but it was pretty creepy. Very detailed. That makes me wonder, “Well… If people have been sighting “monster X” for almost a hundred years, then the likelihood of something actually being out there is probably pretty good. Surely not a “monster”, but perhaps some tortured animal eking out a living the best it can. But surely not a monster. A monster would…

Something changes…

I can feel it just like I’ve felt it before. This is very distinct. A presence. There is something in the room. Instantly I am terrified. I have faced down a couple scary things in my life and have managed to come out the other side unscathed. But this is not normal. This is not an angry drunk at a gig. This is not the stupid kid that decides it’s a good idea to break into a house (does he have a gun or not?) This is not what I’ve encountered before.

My family. This, I know, is my job. I am the protector. I am the guardian. This is their home and I am the one that makes them feel safe. Regardless of any truths, I know I’ve blustered enough to make them (and me) believe that I am fearless in the protection of my clan.

Are you kidding me?

Saying silent goodbyes, I know what I have to do. I sit upright in bed. Look to the left. Nothing. Look to the right. Nothing. I start to exhale. Something moves. At the foot of the bed. Everything in me clenches as tight as a board. There it is. Just standing there staring. Unmoving. I can feel the otherworldliness emanating from it. It does not belong to this realm. There’s a very real chance that I’ve seen my last sun. I have to protect my family. Preparing to combat an unknown, my first action is to lean forward menacingly.

“Maybe it can be intimidated”. I think.

I lean forward, “What!” I say in an angry hiss. It doesn’t move.

It’s just a silhouette, rounded head and sloped shoulders. It is not outwardly frightened. This is not good. I’m going to have to actually do battle with this thing. What has happened that my life has turned upside down in the space of a few hours. Everything that I’d dreamed of and hope for about to vanish like I was never there. It’s not fair. It’s not right! I’m getting angry thinking about it. Good. Anger. I’m letting it push out the fear and it’s good. I’m ready. Someone somewhere will know this battle happened and will at least say I was ferocious in the protection of my loved ones. I start to advance toward the figure in an almost white hot rage. How dare this… Thing come into my home like a thief while my family lies helpless, I’m going rip this thing apart a piece at a time! There is almost no “me” left as I sit up fully and start to move forward. The air in the room thickens in anticipation of the mayhem about to ensue. I reach forward. The monster says,

“… Can I sleep with you guys?”

There is an old computer programmers axiom that goes, “Garbage in, Garbage out.”

I’ll leave you all with that thought.

It was a night…

•April 13, 2010 • 6 Comments

…by which I have compared all other nights in my life.

I grew up in a steel mill town and when production was high, during the day, ash would float down from the sky in little black flakes. I’m sure if that were to happen these days some man or woman from the EPA would turn purplish red, lose the capacity for speech and simply drop to the floor dead.

Back in those days it was just cool.

I was probably twelve or maybe even 13 at the time and really coming into my own, angst-wise. I’m sure there was a girl involved somewhere in all of it, though I could not tell you if it was Betty, Cheryl, Deborah or whoever, but I found myself sitting on the front porch of our two story apartment after the sun had gone down and feeling a different kind of longing then I’d experienced before.

It was late spring and the night was fair. When I inhaled I could smell the lake water from just a few blocks away. (still can when I close my eyes) I was listening to my favorite AM radio station (I wasn’t quite cool enough for FM yet by about 2 years). The DJ sounded just like you think a cheesy DJ would, hence the beginning of the cliche, I assume. My thoughts had kind of run away with my awareness for a few minutes as I reveled in whatever drama of the day was holding court as reality. Couldn’t tell you how long I was in la-la land or give any specifics of what actually occurred there. What really, really grabbed me was my environment when I came back.

Directly across the street and above my neighbors house hovered the moon. Not like any I’d ever seen before or after for that matter. It was as if someone had turned on a search light and aimed it right at me. It literally filled my vision. There were nooks and crannies, divots and craters of all sizes. I was actually able to perceive it as a three dimensional object. Not until years and years later would I be able to see detail like that again and only then through the aid of what I assume was a pretty powerful telescope.

I simply could not look away. The window to our living room was just a few feet above me and my parents would have heard me easily enough if I’d called out to them. I simply couldn’t. I was transfixed and enthralled. (or as my dad used to say, “I been hipmotized! in an exaggerated voice.) Without realizing it, a song had started on the radio and I recognized it as being “our song”. Of course  she didn’t know it was, (whoever she was) but that just didn’t seem to matter right then. I went to a “whole nother level”, so to speak.  I was untouchable in my forlornness. The song reached it’s apex and I swear to you the moon was so bright white and all-consuming that the temperature dropped by four or five degrees while I sat there. It was an ice cold, brilliant light. I swear it was looking back at me.

Now the sad truth is, that after a time, the wonder of it started to wear off. Whether it was the moon shifting in the sky, or a song I didn’t like came on the radio or I simply began to get tired, the magic began to thin and was soon gone (much like my relationship with the almost aforementioned girl). The spell broken, I turned off my AM radio, sighed and went inside to get ready for bed.

Now I started writing this simply because I wanted to share with you about that night and how it felt, etc. But, having written it, I find that I’ve had a small revelation that I’d also like to share with you silent masses, if you would be so good as to tolerate me a bit further.

And that, is that while I look back on that night (and many other instances in my life) and am appalled at how quickly that “magic” fades from those moment and often times our memories, I have a tendency to knee-jerk respond, and curse the silly humanity that allows that to happen. However, after I’ve calmed down a bit and had a chance to take  a step back, I find that it’s that very same humanity (and ultimately, imperfection) that allows those times to be special. I’m sure you know what I mean. We are, I believe, doomed to want that which we can’t or don’t have and if, by chance, we get it, we no longer see it (whatever it is) as special. The simple fact that that “magic” fades makes it special and fragile and impermanent. If those moments lasted forever, they would just turn into “reality”. And you know how much we all love that. There are entire industries built on evading it! Legal and not so much. I suppose I could go on here but, having made my point, I’d really like to stop. You churn the water too much and instead of “interesting” you end up with “muddy”.

There is a full moon (or as my son used to so prophetically say, “fools moon”) out tonight, that’s what started this whole diatribe. I don’t want to miss it altogether so I’ll sign off for now and I think I’ll go across the street and have a beer with my neighbor and be somebody…

I hope…

We had…

•March 13, 2010 • 5 Comments

…one of our first “car windows down”, “close to spring” days just the other day. The sun was shining and it probably hit close to 60 degrees. One of those days where it almost literally feels like everything around you exhales. It’s always been one of the best parts of a year for me. It’s very quick and as the weather really starts to change, it gets lost as we begin to take it for granted. But this day was really nice.

My day had become full of running and picking things up and dropping them off at other places so I found myself riding around for a good part of the day. This dovetailed nicely with the weather and I was fairly content. The afternoon came round and I picked up my son from school. He wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to follow my wife around until it was time to pick an old piece of furniture for his older brother, but he spent the time regaling me with the tales of a potential new love affair. Part of the conversation went like this: “I don’t know if Maria likes me cuz’ every time I ask her to play a game she always says, ‘Which one?’”

He’s eight. Apparently he hasn’t hit that point at which relationships become the snarled mess that they do. I gently steer the conversation toward the weather after a while and that seems to be fine by him.

The radio goes on and we’re really drowning in the experience now. He’s got his window rolled down and keeps sticking his head out a little to catch the wind (yes, yes, much like a dog).

We found ourselves with no destination for a few minutes so I pulled over to make a call. Instead, my wife called me. My phone rang and her ring tone began like it always does (New Radicals/You get what you give) and my son who recognizes it as his mom sang the line and then it was over. I spoke to my wife who told me where to go (high road, folks) and we were on our way to our next destination. We pull away from the spot we’re at and on the radio starts the actual song, “You get what you give” of said ringtone fame. It’s an upbeat song that’s fairly positive and was perhaps, the perfect song for right that second and my son had never heard the whole thing.

I reached for the volume knob to give a little more “mmph” and as I did, in one of those poignant, bright, piercing, shiny, fleeting moments that we get so few of, my eight year old leaned back in his seat as if to truly soak it all in, looked me in the eye and with a grin of satisfaction with the universe never before seen on his face said to me with a small nod,…. “yeah…some travelin’ music”.

I could have died with no regrets right then.

This little blonde boy with the blue eyes and freckles that look like God just threw them at his face got it. It was a one time thing, this moment. It was a first. And, by definition, an only. All the little things in a random universe that have to line up for a day like this to happen and somehow in his uncomplicated way, he understood this. And simply rolled with it.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him to hold on to this as tight as he could. That when other times in your life are not as uplifting that we look back to these things and wear them as karmic armor. That they won’t stop the pain and hurt and frustration, but that they will make them survivable.

I sat there in witness and living testament to the simple power of “positive”.

And now, a few days later, I can still recall that day pretty clearly and I find when I close my eyes that the armor is still there, intact. Not as thick, but there are no chinks and it still smells a little like sunshine and freckles and rock and roll and very little will be able to get through it. At least for a little while longer.

I’ll also admit here for you, silent masses, that I’m proudly wearing the uniform of sentiment, replete with merit badges of memories and achievement awards of my soul. And can stand before you all, unassailable because the armor is still there… Today.

If Norman Rockwell was still alive, he would have painted us and that would have been alright…


So, this creativity thing…

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

…that I’m blessed with…

O.K., Now what? It’s not that I’m not grateful, but really, what?

It’s been reinforced by the people around me for the longest time and I won’t deny it’s true, but I don’t know what to make of it. I mean, if Aunt Thelonia thinks I should receive a “Tony” then it must be true.

The problem is this (“this” being the part that gives this stupid exercise a reason to exist at all) I have ended up nurturing a feeling that I should be “more” than I’ve already ended up. (whatever that is) And it, of course this does, from time to time, end up pissing me off considerably. Combine this with a naturally inflated ego and it can get hard to get through a day.

Not once have people in a local bar recognized me and offered a free round or old high school buddies looked me up to try and ingratiate themselves into my entourage. (heavy sigh…) I guess when you mystify this stuff, it makes it a lot easier to avoid accepting responsibility.

I guess I’m just growing past that “charmed life” mentality slower than many.

Does this make it sound like I hate the life I have? I don’t. I love my home and family etc., they are true sources of joy and inspiration. Truthfully, from a simple perspective of “comfort in my skin”, I’d have to say that I’m better than I’ve ever been.

I’m not an unhappy person. Just a little restless. And every now and again it’s just good to fuss a little.

I suppose I crave recognition, or is it celebrity? Nah, not celebrity. I figured out a while ago that I would be one of those whiny stars that bitched and moaned about people not leaving him alone and respecting my privacy, so it’s probably not celebrity. It’s the recognition of creative peers that’s cool. That, and the thought that maybe, just maybe, something I do will do something good for somebody else. Perhaps this sounds “lofty” or even naive’ but it’s as simple as something like this: I’ve been listening to the music of “artist X” for literally decades now. I know it intimately. When the radio plays the edited version of a song by that artist I become incensed. Anyway, the point is, that music. That body of work has become part of the backdrop of my life. If my life were a mural, somehow, that music would have to be visibly represented on the canvas or I couldn’t consider it complete. I can attach certain songs to certain times and places in my life. Specific incidents along the way would be somehow less if you took that music out of them.

I have a fantasy about meeting that person(“artist X”) one day and simply thanking them for going through it all with me, somehow at some level. (of course, I’m able to present it much cooler than that and I’m not deemed any kind of stalker or anything. And actually, we hit it off and I end up creating this amazing music with this person and…but I digress.)

Now…to know that something you created or helped create had become a part of someone else’s life and made it a more livable place to be… or maybe that it helped someone cry when they really needed to cry…or maybe it just drove home the idea that no matter what, we’re never really alone… Not ever. Even though we might not like each other that much, or even scare each other to death. That it might help someone make it from Monday to Tuesday… or from Thursday to Friday…or maybe the drive home just a little better…hmm…

I’m no great lover of people, but that my friends…that’s sublime.

Hey, maybe I should write about that…or make a video… or a record a song… a poem, yeah, a poem. That’ s a great idea. I wonder if…

 
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