Friday, March 21, 2014

#157 - The Wave

We are all familiar with various types of waves - the wave hello and its cousin, the wave goodbye. There is also the wave off, as in "I'm okay; I don't need any help." It's sort of a way of saying no with the hand. Of course, there is also "the wave," that obnoxious thing fans do (or used to do) at football games. Then there is the Jeep wave.

This latter wave is one I was unfamiliar with - until we bought our Jeep in September of last year. The Jeep wave is a select wave, restricted to and shared between Jeep owners. But the Jeep wave is not for just any Jeep owner.

The Jeep wave is almost a subculture within the Jeep owners subculture itself. Grand Cherokee and Patriot drivers need not apply. The old Jeep Wagoneer is also excluded from the club. The Jeep wave is restricted to owners and drivers of Jeep Wranglers and Rubicons. Four-door versions are also admitted to the club since they simply look like an elongated version of the traditional two-door Jeep.

Much like the secret handshake said to be shared by Freemasons, the Jeep wave is a greeting, an acknowledgment between owners of the traditional Jeep style. I suppose it could be seen as a sort of knowing wink or telling glance. Perhaps it is a recognition that we were discerning enough not willing to settle for some other pretender brand or for one of the upstart Jeep models.

The dealer who sold us our Jeep was apparently not up on secret handshakes and rituals and was remiss in not telling us about the custom of the wave. As a result, i was a bit surprised the first time I encountered it. I simply thought it was some overly friendly driver or perhaps someone who thought they recognized me as I passed. I waved back but thought nothing more about it - until it happened again. And again.

Drivers of other types of vehicles do not wave as they pass. And apparently there are other Jeep drivers not versed in the wave. I notice this lack of protocol primarily in younger Jeep drivers, and I chalk their lack of observation of the proprieties to a shortcoming in their education.

However, I have encountered the wave often enough in the six months we have owned our Jeep to know it is not coincidental or a fluke. Actually, it is something similar to what I sometimes see amongst RV owners as they pass or in campgrounds whenever we are able to take our trailer out. I suppose a passerby might liken it to membership in some sort of cult. I simply like to think of it as civility.

Monday, March 17, 2014

#156 - I Came, I Saw, I Camped

Today was St. Patrick’s Day, ostensibly commemorating the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland. In actuality, though, I think it is simply an excuse to add green food coloring to beer and get drunk. This weekend, however, we experienced a green of a different kind, the green that one begins to find outdoors as spring nears.

Over the weekend, we made the season’s  first outing with our fifth-wheel trailer. The promise of nice weather this past weekend (mostly delivered upon) made us decide relatively spur of the moment to hitch up the rig and motor about 90-minutes west to Farewell Bend State Park in Eastern Oregon.

Farewell Bend sits along the Oregon side of the Snake River and was the last river stop along the Oregon Trail. It’s a pleasant park that can get hot in summer and is often windy, making it less than ideal for tenters. During the winter off-season (through March), most of the sites are closed off leaving a handful of available spots all lined up like a mini RV park.

For our purposes, though, Farewell Bend was a perfect destination on two days’ notice. We had a chance to get the trailer out for the first time in more than five months and make sure some of the important components (refrigerator, oven, microwave, furnace) were in operational form. Because of the nice weather, we got to spend much of Saturday outdoors relaxing instead of glued to this screen or that or dealing with household chores or home project #47.

We also experienced yet again a phenomenon I marvel at every time I encounter it. Many of the RVers we’ve met have tended to be outgoing, friendly people ready to make strangers welcome at the drop of a hat. They certainly have done so on several occasions.

I do not include the so-called “weekend warriors” with broods of young children still at home in this category of RVer. These people often strike me as trying to cram seven days of togetherness and family activities into a weekend and often appear anything but relaxed. So I guess I can’t really blame them if they aren’t that friendly or outgoing when a stranger passes.

However, I have encountered such friendliness often enough to know it is a much more common occurrence in the RV community than it seems to be in the general population at large. We first experienced it not long after we bought our first RV, a 10-foot Jayco tent trailer. A private message sent to someone on an RV discussion forum led to us being invited into their full-time home on wheels and a discussion of several hours about full-time living in a motorhome.

This past weekend, my wife mentioned to the owner of one of the motorhomes near our trailer that the brand they owned was one we were considering a few years down the road. Next thing we knew, we were being invited to tour their wheeled home away from home and subsequently invited to join them around the campfire, That led to several hours of enjoyable conversation about favorite campgrounds, health, food, retirement, even skydiving.

They are the kinds of conversations that no longer take place in many neighborhoods. It’s as if we have taken the idea that our home is our castle to heart and created an imaginary moat around it to keep the outside world at bay. Neighborhood and residential developments have become so spread out that it becomes somewhat daunting and intimidating to meet neighbors, especially if you tend to be somewhat introverted, as I am.

Because an RV of any kind is much smaller than a traditional home, there is a greater tendency to spend at least part of each day outside. Therefore, the likelihood of interaction with other people is also much greater. The couple we spent several enjoyable hours with this weekend are people we likely would never have encountered if it weren’t for our common ground of RVing. If we lived in the same neighborhood, our paths might never cross.

This social aspect is one of the great things about the RV life. Equally great, though, is the possibility of obtaining complete solitude if desired. Especially in the western half of the United States, there are numerous places where one can get away from just about everything and everyone. That ability to be around people when desired and get away from people when needed is, to me, one of the greatest attributes of the RV lifestyle. It allows one to maintain a balance between the social and private self and to establish or restore a harmony between the human self and the natural world. I’m just not sure it gets any better than that.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

#155 - Generalissimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead

A story on the BBC News web site reports that a group of devotees in India have frozen the body of their guru after his death from a heart attack. According to them, he did not die but moved into a state of Samadhi, the highest form of meditation. So they froze his body and will “wait and watch” confident that “he will come back,” apparently because the guru said he would.

I guess my question in this case would be – if the guru wasn’t actually dead, as his followers believe, when his body was put on ice, won’t the freezer finish the job? Not being much good at meditation myself, I also have to wonder whether such cold temperatures might disrupt the guru’s state of Samadhi and bring him back to some other state of consciousness. Namely, death. Hopefully they packed a good cold weather parka in with the guru.

Ashutosh Maharaj, leader of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission), has been in cold storage now for some six weeks. Reading the BBC story, I was reminded of the old running joke on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update when Chevy Chase would announce as his top story, “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead” or the occasional variation "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still valiantly holding on in his fight to remain dead."

The Divine Light guru reportedly led 30 million followers around the world. No word as to how many of them were consulted or agreed with the decision to serve up their spiritual leader “on the rocks.” I also have to wonder whether the divine light remains on when the freezer lid is closed.

At some level, I suppose this story also points up the need most of us have to believe in or hold onto something larger than life, bigger than ourselves. Me, I believe in a divine or higher power, but I don’t believe any faith or religion has a monopoly or even a clear understanding of that divine power or the higher truth it represents.

I certainly don’t think guru Ashutosh Maharaj is or was that divine power. To an outsider, his followers seem to have elevated him close to that level. Thinking more about this story, I am led to wonder whether the same sort of elevation might have happened in the case of Jesus. Perhaps he too began as a simple holy man and was elevated to divine status after his crucifixion by his followers, desperate to have something larger than life to hang their beliefs on.

I know Christians would say no and point to the Bible as evidence. I, on the other hand, have to wonder why so many accept the Bible and not some other holy text, such as the Upanishads or the Koran (or even The Book of Mormon). All were written or at least transcribed by men. Is it really inconceivable that, because of the politics or prejudices of the time, those authors/transcribers might have allowed their own hopes, biases, and opinions to color and influence what was actually set down upon the page? And which Bible? The Catholic version, with its Apocrypha? The King James? The New King James? The New International Version? (Was there an old International Version?) It’s all so confusing.

But back to guru Ashutosh Maharaj, he of the Divine Light. His spokesman (apparently, public relations is important, even after death – excuse me Samadhi) said the guru’s body did not decompose before being put into the freezer, even after remaining out for a week. That qualified as a “spiritual experience,” according to Swami Vishalanand. Actually, though, for those of faith, death itself would be considered a “spiritual experience.”

I don’t really begrudge the guru’s followers their belief that their leader will return. Perhaps that will illustrate the “awakening” aspect of the name of their sect. Until that happens, “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#154 - Thinking About Making My Escape

Here where I live, the weather experts (does that mean they used to be perts and gave it up?) are forecasting temperatures in the 60s this weekend. That has me thinking about escaping.

By escaping, I don’t necessarily mean running away from it all, although that has a certain appeal. Actually, I’m thinking about getting out of town for a weekend or even longer. We are lucky in that we have the home on wheels to be able to get away from civilization – or at least reduce our exposure to it – whenever our schedules permit.

The promise of warmer weather has me hoping we can make more use of our fifth-wheel trailer than we did last year. Right now, I think bookmakers in Vegas are laying odds of four to one against based on the fact that I have yet to complete my first year in my current job. That puts available vacation time at a bit of a premium.

Even though my wife occasionally have disputes over how to do this or take care of that when we are out with the trailer, those outings help me stay sane. I think I feel more natural, more myself when we are in a campground somewhere, even if all we do is sit outside and read or watch the sun go down. Whatever burdens I imagine I have seem to lighten, and there is an increased sense of peace and calm I feel.

I’ve written about this feeling before. I find it reassuring to know I still feel the same, especially as my ultimate escape plan (i.e., retirement) involves taking the trailer (or motorhome, if we have one by then) out for a weekend and never coming home. Actually, the plan is to trade a stationary home (referred to by RVers as “sticks & bricks”) for one on wheels.

Such a move will require some hard decisions about what to keep (very little) and what to dispose of (nearly everything) as well as explaining the decision to others who might question our sanity. Somehow, though, that seems part of the fun at this point, even though I know when the time comes it will be anything but fun.

The final decisions in that regard are still several years away. In the meantime, I look at prospective homes on wheels and dream (and perhaps drool a little if the truth be told). I read of the adventures of others (sometimes with a slight tang of envy). And I look forward to the day when it is my turn to make the leap and live out my grand adventure. Until then, I settle for mini escapes, weekend excursions that help revitalize me and help to (barely, some might say) keep me sane. How about you? Here’s to making our escape!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

#153 - Balancing Between Today and Tomorrow

“Sha-la-la-la-la-la live for today / And don’t worry ‘bout tomorrow, hey”
– The Grass Roots

Finding the balancing point between what is and what might be is always challenging. How does one know whether he or she is making the right choice? Hindsight may be 20/20, but foresight and forward vision can be a bit blurry at best and myopic at worst.

One of the blogs I regularly read is currently in the middle of a series of posts that have a bit of a survivalist bent to them, looking ahead to dwindling oil supplies, hyperinflation, and a collapsing economy. Definitely not light bedtime reading. But is the author right? Are we headed for financial Armageddon?

I don’t know the answer to that question, and he admits he doesn’t, either. That’s the point. Not even the wisest of us has a direct line to the future, so none of us really knows what lies ahead. While the song by The Grass Roots may, on one level, seem a bit irresponsible, there is a lot to be said for living for today.

Today is all we can see and all we have any semblance of control over. That does not mean doing nothing to plan for the future. Nor does it mean not having any hopes or dreams to look forward to or live for. What it does mean is doing the best you can today to plan for the future without sacrificing the present and worrying about tomorrow if and when it comes. 

Looking at the world around me, I see that throwing money at the problems we face, as America is sometimes accused of doing, has so far not solved the problem. Nor has cutting spending to the bone, as has occurred in some European countries, done the job. As in all things, balance and moderation seem to be the key.

I’ve been accused often in my life of being a pessimist, but I am something of an optimist at heart. While I believe we face a variety of challenges in the years ahead, I also believe we can and will address them, whether it be through evolution, technology, divine intervention, or some combination of all three. Forty years ago, during the last worldwide oil shortage, many were forecasting gloom and doom. Since then, we have made great strides in alternative energy sources such as solar and wind, and I suspect further advances lie on the horizon.

I sometimes think about what the future holds for my autistic son. I realize that I will not be around for most of his adult life and will not be there to guide him through whatever lies ahead. Plans are in place to try to prepare for his future, but as what anything forward-looking, those plans are at best an educated guess as to what he’ll face and what he’ll need. At the same time, his parents hope and plan as parents for our own future.

I suppose the moral in all of this is to do your best to plan and prepare for the future you hope to see while also doing your best to live in the now (and not, as Jethro Tull once sang, “keep living in the past”). Metaphysically speaking, I guess I need to work on my sense of balance. Sha-la-la-la.

Monday, March 10, 2014

#152 - Where Did My Hour Go?

“It’s just another manic Monday.” – The Bangles

At this moment, I truly do wish it were Sunday (as the song continues). Not because Monday marks the start of another work week, although there is also that. No, it’s much worse than that. It is nothing less than what I am sure must be an insidious plot to make all of us automatons for several days while who knows what takes place. The plot of which I speak is Daylight Savings Time.

This weekend marked the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, that artificial extension of daylight hours originally intended to help conserve energy. Benjamin Franklin is said to have first proposed such a system so as to make more economical use of candles. The energy saving aspect is what caused Daylight Savings to be used during World War I and to be more permanently implemented during World War II. In the 1970s, the time frame for Daylight Savings Time was extended for additional energy savings during the oil embargo.

The period was later extended and codified at eight months in length, again presumably for energy savings. I’m sure it is mere coincidence that the eight month period of Daylight Savings just happens to coincide with prime growing and tourism seasons as opposed to those times of the year when we might truly benefit from an extra hour of daylight, the winter. I fully expect in the next few years that Daylight Savings Time will be extended once more, allowing it to run through Black Friday so that the mob of shoppers seeking out Christmas bargains can trample each other with an extra hour of daylight to run amok in. That’s only a few weeks past the current end date for Daylight Savings Time, so it would not require much of a change and could be made again under the guise of “saving energy.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Daylight Savings Time as much as the next person. During the summer and early autumn, both prime camping periods, I can enjoy extra hours of daylight out in the RV. I like having plenty of daylight whenever I can take the RV out of town for the weekend.

What I don’t like as much is that first day of Daylight Savings Time, when we lose an hour due to the adjustment of the clocks. Yes, it’s in the middle of the night, when we are presumably sleeping. And yes, we get that hour back sometime in the fall. However, that first day after “springing forward,” I don’t like doing anything close to “springing.” Instead, I feel like a walking billboard for Night of the Living Dead, as my body knows there is something amiss, even if it can’t quite put its finger on it.

At the start of Daylight Savings Time, I feel sluggish and continue to feel that way for several days, until my body finally adjusts to the change. For those first few days, Daylight Savings Time (DST) becomes more like Sleep Deprivation Time (SDT). While later I will enjoy and appreciate the additional hour of daylight, right now, I just want my hour back so I can catch up on that lost sleep.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

#151 - The Importance of Being a Dreamer

"I know that everybody has a dream / Everybody has a dream
Everybody has a dream / And this is my dream, my own"

- Billy Joel "Everybody Has a Dream"

I guess I've had a number of dreams over the years. Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. Then, when I learned how long that would take, I switched to dreaming of architecture (still an interest), then law. Along with the dream of becoming a lawyer was the thought I might someday go into politics - until I realized I wouldn't even win an election in my own family.

These are the dreams of what I would call real life - what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were also the dreams I knew to be complete fantasy - dreams of being a successful baseball player, even though I had no talent; dreams of being a singer/songwriter (I do like to sing and do still write lyrics, so maybe I haven't completely let go of that one); dreams of owning a number of television and radio stations, a pale imitation of which played out in my ten years working in radio and television; even dreams of being an acclaimed novelist (haven't quite let go of that dream yet). Most of these were part of my survival mechanism, I suppose, a way to cope with and get through all of the crap I felt to be going on around me.

Delusional? Perhaps. But I have come to realize that dreams are important to us in all stages of life. They are, really, the thing that keeps up going and makes it possible for us to get out of bed day after day. Even if they might never come true, there is always a chance they might, and that makes it possible for people to go on. They certainly made it possible for me to go on.

An oft-paraphrased quote from Karl Marx states that religion is the opiate of the masses. In some ways, I suspect our dreams are the opiate. They are what keeps us going when times are hard. They give us something to look forward to, to get out of bed for. It has been said that when we stop dreaming, we die.

So even at my later stage of life, I continue to dream. For the most part, my dreams have changed with age. I no longer dream of being this or of having that career. Instead, I dream of going places, seeing things. My dream now is of retiring and living full-time in a motorhome, traveling to see places I've never seen and people I haven't seen in a long time.

Right now, it looks as if that dream could well come true, and that helps keep me going. Plus, I still have dreams of writing that novel. If I can just find the discipline to sit down and do it. What dreams do you hold on to?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

#150 - Degrees of Loss

We just got word today that the priest who performed our wedding ceremony died recently after a long illness. I don't know his age, but I'm sure Fr. David was several years younger than us. Today, I also learned that a couple we knew that had married a few months before us had divorced after 20 years of marriage.

Teresa and I were the first couple married by Father David, a wedding Mass he performed for us in September, 1993, not long after his ordination as a Catholic priest. Thinking back now, there are lots of little things that stand out from that day.

I remember what a nice (and warm) September day it was with temperatures probably in the 80s and plenty of blue sky. I remember being glad I was able to scrape together the money to fly my mother and grandmother in for the wedding. I also remember trying to squeeze us all into my little Hyundai Excel.

I remember that Teresa and I decided that, while we wanted the traditional church wedding, we did not want the thousands of dollars in costs or debts that so many seemed to be incurring in order to live that dream. In order to make our dream happen, Teresa bought the fabric for her wedding dress, found the pattern, and paid someone $150 (as I recall) to make it. You'd have been hard-pressed to realize the dress did not cost five or ten times that much.

The rehearsal dinner was another area where we were able to have fun and save money. We booked a local barbecue place just outside of town. Everyone ate off of foam green plastic plates with paper napkins and, I think, plastic utensils, and no one said a word in complaint. It was fun, it was tasty (and traditional, in a Southern sort of way), and it was affordable.

Since we had friends with military shopping privileges, we were able to save a bit on the beer and champagne as well. However, to this day it still pains us to recall the fact that much of the beer ended up being dumped out. I think if we had known that was going to happen we would have stayed at the wedding reception longer and had more to drink. We did, however, end up with five or six cases of cheap champagne that took us years to drink.

I remember us buying most of the members of our wedding party Three Stooges-related gifts. We played Asleep at the Wheel's "Curly Shuffle" during the little get together we held to distribute the gifts. I also remember the fact that my best man, a non-Catholic, had to "suffer" through a full Mass, with all of the kneeling and standing that entailed. It was sort of my revenge for driving six and a half hours to be a groomsman in his ten-minute wedding ceremony earlier in the year.
The happy couple with Fr. David
Teresa and I wrote our own music for the ceremony so as to make it even more ours. I still remember Fr. David being a bit nervous since it was his first wedding (as well as ours) and launching into The Lord's Prayer, not remembering Teresa and I had written a musical version for the ceremony.

Ours was definitely a DIY wedding. (We did, however, hire someone to make a cake and provide finger food for the wedding reception.) We even put together the wedding reception music tape. Both of us having slightly twisted senses of humor, so it seemed only fitting that the first song at the reception be Billy Idol's "White Wedding." He was right. It was a "nice day for a white wedding."

We lost touch over the years with Fr. David, as we have with many of the people who blessed us with their presence that September day. Some, like my mother and grandmother and Teresa's father, have died. Others have moved to various parts of the country and out of our lives.

Although I don't have an actual count, I'm sure Fr. David performed many more wedding ceremonies and Masses after ours, no doubt becoming more confident and self-assured with each one. Teresa and I, though, will always be honored to have been the first.

We've lost Fr. David, but we retain the memories of that special day. Godspeed, Fr. David. May you find eternal rest.

Friday, March 7, 2014

#149 - Where's the Fire?

“I feel the need. The need for speed.” – Top Gun

There must be quite a few fans of the movie “Top Gun” here where I live, judging from the way some of them drive.

I was heading into work this morning when a company van from a local pastry shop came barreling out of their parking lot and had almost reached the speed limit by the time they got onto the actual road. The van proceeded to pick up speed from there. I didn’t hear the air raid sirens or anything, but there must have been a four-alarm donut shortage somewhere. Either that, or the driver had already consumed a couple of days’ worth of caffeine and sugar.

On the same drive this morning, while driving a couple of miles per hour over the speed limit myself, I was passed by a truck going close to ten miles an hour too fast – in order to pass me before being forced to turn right. This even though there was plenty of room to merge behind me. I am happy to report (in a told you so sort of way) that, because of other slower traffic ahead, said driver never got more than three or four car lengths ahead of me. Not that I am vengeful or vindictive or anything.

What I don’t really understand is the day-to-day rush to get somewhere, usually to work, as if that extra minute (or even less) will actually make a difference. I get that there are emergencies that sometimes necessitate the need for speed, but does clocking in for work at 7:29 a.m. as opposed to 7:30 or even 7:31 really matter. Are there sales taking place with tiny five-minute windows of opportunity that justify or excuse the lack of courtesy or possible endangerment of others?

I’ve also seen people several cars behind me in my lane on a city street pull out into another lane that is about to become a dedicated left-turn lane, pass several cars, then cut back into my lane (sometimes blocking the left-turn lane while waiting for an opportunity to force their way back over). It’s as if their time or their destination is more important or more worthy than mine or the other drivers they’ve passed. News flash: in most cases, it isn’t.

Consideration of others seems to have disappeared, right along with rational political discourse and compromise. It all seems to correspond with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and the always-connected world in which we live. Some people here where I live blame it on the California drivers who have moved here. I suspect the answer is not quite that simple. 

In our consumer-driven culture, we are under constant pressure to produce and consume. I suspect some of that has also leached into our daily activities. Many people seem to always feel the need to be going or doing (or going and doing), and they have scheduled their entire family’s lives accordingly.

Not being an urban planner, a psychologist, or even a law enforcement officer, I don’t have the answer. Nor do I know the solution. I do have a few suggestions, though, for those of you always hurrying to and fro. First, stop and smell the coffee before you drink it. Those extra few moments don’t matter much in the long run, but they might help you begin your day on a more relaxed footing.

Second, look at all of those planned activities on your calendar. How important are they in the greater scheme of things? Is your schedule so full it allows no space for the unexpected or for doing something spontaneous? If so, you have way too much on your plate and way too little time on your hands.

Finally, might I suggest you try approaching each day’s drive to work or to run errands as if it will be your last? Because the way you drive, it may well be.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

#148 - Write Your Own Song

"You can write your own words / You can sing your own song
And it doesn't really matter if you're out of tune / Or if no one sings along"
- John Wesley Harding "Sing Your Own Song"

Next to Elvis Costello, John Wesley Harding is, perhaps, my favorite songwriter of the last twenty-plus years. Plus, he's written three novels. In other words, he's done the things I always told myself I wanted to do.

A part of me has always been into writing. I won't call it a passion, as there has always been some question about whether I'm truly passionate about anything. However, I have enjoyed writing for quite some time, even making a living at it during my years as a reporter and later as a news producer.

In high school, I worked on the school newspaper, writing editorials about book burning, gas rationing (it was the 70s, the time of the oil embargo), and the like. I latched onto writing as a way to be noticed, I suppose, something that didn't happen from being in marching band, and I wasn't coordinated enough or strong enough or fast enough for sports.

Writing also became my way of coping with the world around me outside my home, as well as the feelings and emotions inside me and my home. Because I have the discipline and dedication of a gnat (and at times the attention span to go with it), I never worked much on longer forms of writing, although I always told people I wanted to write a novel . . . one day.

Instead, I latched onto song lyrics as my outlet. It was almost like writing poetry, except I didn't have to be opaque or obscure or quite so metaphorical. Song lyrics were also good and inexpensive therapy. My lyrics, bad as they were at times, helped me to express and work through things I wasn't really comfortable sharing with others. As a result, most of the lyrics I've written have perhaps thankfully never been shared with others.

I began writing lyrics my senior year in high school, and I've never really stopped, although I have gone months at a time without writing a word. Forty years of thoughts, feelings, rhymes, and stories. Most of what I've written is utter drivel and not likely to be improved with age or revision, something I almost never do.

Yet, I keep writing. It keeps my mind and my imagination active. I've written enough words to probably fill two or three novels, although I don't think much of a narrative could be pieced together from them if all those words were combined. (An interesting experiment for perhaps another day.)

I'd like to think my lyric writing has improved with time, age, and possibly wisdom, but a writer of any genre is generally not the best judge of his or her own work. So, at the end of this post, I'll let you decide.

The song I quoted at the start of this post, "Sing Your Own Song," conveys the idea that we each of us should live our own lives, write our own songs, as it were, and not worry about what other people want, think, or say about it. It's the idea that each of us marches to the beat of a different drummer.

I've been marching to that different beat for most of my life. I'd like to think my drummer has gained a better sense of timing and rhythm over the years. I'd also like to think that drummer will one day help me beat out that novel I still hope to write. In the meantime, I'll keep writing my lyrics, even if "no one sings along." Here's the latest, based on no personal experience or person I know, yet it probably fits several people who have gone in and out of my life over the years.

Just One of Those Things
I see the crystal vision / Of places we once went
I know my indecision / Caused us to lose the scent
Of what we had
I know I should be sad
But I'm not even mad, it was just one of those things

I hear the distant echoes / Of songs we used to share
They seem to end in mid-note / Left hanging in the air
Reminders of
This thing we once called love
Not quite like hand in glove, it was just one of those things

We thought we knew where we were going
We hadn't a clue
Each day, the doubt kept growing
Inside both me and you

Around me, imitations / Of things we used to do
Are there reminding me of / The life I had with you
So long ago
Where did that feeling go?
I don't really know, it was just one of those things

We finally reached the point
We couldn't take any more
One of us had to leave
We both walked out the door

I know someday the memories / Will simply fade away
Well meaning friends no longer / Asking if I'm okay
Like something's wrong
We just did not belong
And when one day you were gone, it was just one of those things

No need for sad goodbyes, it was just one of those things

One day we'll look back on this as just one of those things

- All rights reserved, 2014 -

Monday, March 3, 2014

#147 - Decisions, Decisions

If you think about it, life is a series of decisions, followed by an occasional lull, followed by another series of decisions. Do I get out of bed? Do I sleep in an extra hour? Do I have oatmeal for breakfast? Do I wear plaid to work? (Hopefully the answer to that last question is a decisive NO.)

Those little day-to-day decisions are punctuated by bigger decisions that are often referred to as MAJOR LIFE EVENTS – moving, getting married, having children, changing jobs. As a result, the course of one’s life graphed out looks a bit like a sine wave or an EEG.

Recently, I was faced with a potential major life event. A company I had worked eight years for before being laid off last August called to ask me if I was interested in coming back to work for them. Seems they realized they had made a teensy miscalculation in the number of people they actually needed to adequately run the day-to-day operations of the company.

Deep down, I suppose some part of me felt vindicated that they had realized their “error” in letting me go. So I agreed to talk to them, not really expecting anything to come of the interview. To put it mildly, I generally suck at interviews unless I don’t feel I have anything to lose or don’t feel pressured to do well. One of those must have been the case because a few days later they called to offer me a position.

After a little back and forth negotiating (something else I’m not much good at), they agreed to pay me what I was asking. I prepared myself to return to what I felt would be a more stressful situation than my current job, even going so far as to fill out some preliminary paperwork and telling my current employer about the offer. Then I woke up and smelled the coffee, I guess.

A delay of a few days in getting some questions answered gave me time to think about the impending move. The more time I had to think, the more anxious I became about going back. On the other hand, could I really turn down what was a sizeable pay increase? I didn’t know, so I did what any married man would do – I asked my wife.

As I talked over the offer with my wife, she noticed that I started talking more and more like someone who had decided to stay and not change jobs. I wasn’t aware of it until she pointed it out, but my entire discussion with her essentially became me convincing myself not to accept the offer.

I realized that I was lucky enough not to need the extra money. My current position feels a lot less stressful than my former job. I know everyone’s name, and everyone seems to get along. Plus, they seem to like the job I do and sounded genuinely relieved and grateful that I had decided to stay. I think I was as well.

Would I make the same choice six months from now? Who knows? That’s a decision for another day that may never arrive, or perhaps it is part of one ongoing decision. That discussion, however, is a bit deep for this blog. Instead, I’ll just worry about whether to pour a glass of red or white wine when I get home tonight from work.