Thursday, December 31, 2015

#199 - One To Go

The title of this entry has a dual meaning. The first, perhaps more obvious meaning. refers to the fact that I write this on the last day of 2015. Hence the "one to go."

The other meaning refers to the number given this entry and the fact that I need one more post to reach 200 on this blog. Given that I began this blog in 2009, that is not a great deal of entries, especially when I intended several times to post more frequently.

However, those intentions never came to pass, either because I didn't have anything to say or because I didn't feel like it or I was simply too lazy. I've no illusions that will suddenly change in the coming year, but you never know.

2015 turned out to be a more eventful and event-filled years than someone of my advancing years might have any right or reason to expect. The year was a watershed for me musically as I got the opportunity to perform my songs publicly for the first time anywhere ouside of a couple of weddings more than 20 years earlier.

That came about thanks to the help of my talented wife Teresa, without whom my songs would simply be bad poems. With her help, I also recorded my first CD to send out to friends and family. (I say that as if there will be many more instead of it being perhaps my only CD, but who knows?) I still have roughly 50 copies if anyone wants to buy one.

In 2015, we also bought our first motorhome, a 2005 model that quickly became a home on wheels for us and something we hope to use even more in the coming year. Once the weather warms, that is.

Perhaps the biggest event of 2015 was our trip to Washington, DC with our son to celebrate his recognition as one of eight national winners of a playwriting competition sponsored by a division of the Kennedy Center. It was a whirlwind weekend that yielded material for a couple of songs, a couple of proud parents, and a lifetime of memories.

One of my Facebooks friends (and a former colleague/boss from my television days) shared a post that 2016 is going to be an amazing year. I hope it is, but it will have to go some to come close to, let alone top the amazing year that was 2015.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

#198 - A Merry Christmas Wish

Just a short post as I know most of us are busy with last-minute Christmas preparations.

'Tis the day before Christmas; the shopping is done.
The meal is in progress; the cooking's begun.
The family is gathered; they're all of good cheer.
Joyful and laughing now Christmas is here.
The presents are ready; the stockings are filled
The spirits are ready; the bubbly is chilled
All finished braving the crowds at the mall
One thing to say - Merry Christmas to all!

May your Christmas be filled with light and love and peace. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 4, 2015

#197 - Another Year In The Books

"St. Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store."
Tennessee Ernie Ford, "Sixteen Tons"

Fortunately, as I prepare to turn the calendar on another year, I do not owe my soul to the company store or to any other store for that matter. I might owe myself an apology, though.

As I prepare to celebrate another year, I realize that in many ways my life is more fulfilling than ever. I am writing songs I am proud of and actually getting to share some of them with the outside world instead of keeping them hidden away. I only wish I'd done so sooner.

I've written songs now in five different decades. However, for most of that time, I lacked the courage and self-confidence to try to do anything with them. The up side is that I wrote most of my horrendous songs before I ever had the nerve to publicly share anything. The down side is that I let a lot of years go by before doing so.

On the other hand, I am finally sharing some of my songs, and the songs I am sharing are some of the best I've ever written. While I could wish I'd started sooner so as to maybe have a larger audience, the fact that any of my songs have had any audience at all is still very gratifying.

I think I'm learning that my time frames and my pace of life and doing things don't necessarily match up with how the rest of the world operates. Then again, I suspect I've really known that all along.

I am also coming to terms with and learning to accept the fact that I will never be mistaken for a bodybuilder or someone like Jack LaLanne. I like to eat; I like to drink; I don't like to exercise. I think that combination pretty much guarantees that I will look more like Mr. Potato Head than Mr. Universe.

It has taken a while, but I am learning that I have little power over the prejudice, the shortsightedness, or the narrow-mindedness of others. Nor do my shortcomings in various areas help to balance the scales.

I have learned that Facebook is not the place for serious discussion of issues. Nor is it the place to change minds or sway opinions. People will share what they believe and block what they don't, and seldom do the opposing views interact in any meaningful or civilized way.

In conjunction with that, I have learned that "social media," while sounding like a platform for people all over the world to come together and share thoughts, opinions, and ideas, is basically only a place for people to say hello, share recipes, post cat pictures, and express political half-truths. Once I realized these things, I became less frustrated with social media.

There is one other thing I've learned. In spite of the events of the past year, I remain an optimist and an idealist where the world is concerned. As John Lennon once sang, "You might say I'm a dreamer." Some might call me naive and foolish. So be it. I'd rather be naive and foolish and believe in the prospects for a better and more united world than to accept the alternative.

The way I see it, as look as I'm still dreaming, I'm still living. I've learned in the past year that dreams can come true even if not quite in the way originally imagined. So I'll keep on dreaming. Because every once in a while, the dream becomes reality. I hope you keep on dreaming as well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#196 - And The Beat Goes On

Those of you under a certain age likely won't recognize the title of this post as the title of a big 1960s hit by husband and wife singing duo Sonny and Cher. Some of a certain age may remember Cher from some of her music videos in the 1980s and 1990s where she seemed determined to find out just how few clothes she could get away with not wearing. Fewer still may remember that Sonny later went on to become mayor of Palm Springs, California and a conservative Republican Congressman. (I'm still not sure where he took a wrong turn.)

Although all of that is, perhaps, mildly informative, it has nothing to do with the subject of this post. (Aren't you glad you read this far? I know I am.) In a sense, this blog post is really about nothing. Which also means it is about everything.

If you are anything like me (and for your sake, I hope you aren't), you might reasonably expect that once you reach a certain age, life might begin to slow down a bit, and you can finally take time to stop and smell the roses. Except that life really hasn't slowed down much, if at all.

Even though our son is now 19 and could, perhaps, be expected to be out on his own or at least fend for himself a bit more, it seems we are busier than ever with him. And when we aren't, we're busy with our own activities. He always has something going on. Or we do.

The fact that our son is autistic necessitates some of our involvement, even as he resists and struggles to assert his independence, a very normal step to take once you turn 19. For us, the challenge is trying to allow him to assert that independence while also trying to teach him and guide him so that he can be more independent even as we try to direct him. It's all very catch-22.

At the same time, I am entering almost a personal Golden Age of lyric writing, writing some of the best things I've ever written at an age when many songwriters are either resting on their laurels or struggling to find things to write about. (Since I have no laurels to rest on, that is not an issue.)

On Saturday, I move another year closer to traditional rocking chair age. Yet in many ways, I'm probably more alive than I've ever been. With my wife's help, I've been able to take some of my songs from simply lyrics and a melody destined to be lost (because I don't actually write/annotate music) to actual song status and then performed them for live audiences. It has been both nerve wracking and perhaps the greatest thrill of my life.

While I may never be like Mel Brooks and be able to say "It's good to be the king," I can say it's a good time to be alive, despite all the craziness around the world. Desperate people resort to desperate acts. I choose not to reward or respond to their desperation. Despite their efforts, despite their anger, despite their desperation, life goes on for me. I hope it goes on for you as well and that you can find little things in which to anchor your piece (and peace) of the world.