Departure from Dystopia
See you on the other side. We all have things to hide.
I feel like I've turned a corner out of a wintery, blustery back alley into a bit of a open, busy, colourful marketplace - still facing a slight sting in the air, on the tail of the season's chill, but feeling a few more rays of vitamin D interlaced sunshine, making the journey a little more joyous.
I'm focusing on the things I love - and the the things that matter.
Friends. Music. Small Lanark towns. Exercise. Fresh air. Creativity. Kindness.
And above all...kindness.
What is it about external eggs that get into our baskets and make us all crankpusses? Why can't we understand that the external is truly that - external. It is beyond our control. Sickness. Disease. Finances. Symbols of strata and status. Material gods.
These are all things we cannot control.
So often, I'll hear people complaining about the weather. The weather. Really. As if there is ANYthing we can actually fucking do about that.
It's almost like many of us need a soapbox and a megaphone to validate ourselves - we need to whine in order to feel like our whining is worth something. But it never is, is it?
It's an endless loop on a tape machine that spins and clicks into oblivion. It's the same thing that does exactly nothing.
I'm nearing the end of a long haul through life, and a long haul through the busiest time of year for myself and my father - tax season. It's a time where papers pile and digits roll off screens and into databases that make magical numbers appear. I've been getting down to fighting weight, cutting pounds and shedding tar for feathers. I've been diggin' in - holdin' on.
I'm ready for fields and long days of bats cracking and discs hucking. I'm ready to laze and lounge with three of my best pals up in God's country with frothy, cold homebrews on their respective docks. I'm ready to play music and leave pieces of myself on random, tiny, sticky stages. I'm going to dine with friends on farms and let lapsteel melodies soothe my rugged, country heart. I'm ready to cast my line into the waters and feel the tugs of the mighty rock bass of opportunity. I'm ready to see my friends.
I'm getting closer.
Let's head for the light. Come with me.
This life has ways of vexing, shocking and mystifying us in the hare trigger of a split second.
In the past few winter months, the days have stayed long and dark, but lately, a new feeling is afoot. My old bones creak with anticipation and I settle myself into my sullen blanket fort for a cozy nap.
What have I been doing? Oh I don't know - watching the Sens self destruct and watching my homie Joel Plaskett slay a sold out audience at the NAC in Ottawa while playing with an orchestra. We had whiskey after the show and he talked with my brother about cover bands. Joel is a fine fella. Rest assured.
One thing that has helped propel me through this dastardly season is something very simple and childlike; a paper route.
Every week, I sling a local rag at doorsteps in my neighbourhood for literally penny-piecework. It's fiscally ridiculous, but it provides me with gas money for the month - but more importantly, it gets me outside for a few hours where I'm forced to listen and forced to examine the world around me.
My trusty, beaten up iPhone companion flips between Adam Carolla and Joe Rogan, but between the two of them, I come away learned. I always attain some strange piece of wisdom that I didn't have before.
Beyond that, it's been a nice addition to my fitness regimen (which has become a mainstay in my life). I recognize the glare of growing older, and I have not sunken into a carb-filled haze of self pity. I have taken control of that which I am able to, and I have done something about my surroundings.
It's strange - when I feel weary or unsure of myself, I blog more. When I feel secure, safe and sailing through the seas of this life with vigor and vitality, I don't blog.
Strange how that works.
There are days when I'm infinitesimally close to giving up on Journalism. It's become a garbage racket filled with old boys and old girls who don't want to give up the reigns because they fear for their job security instead of succumbing to the power of the written word.
They are pawns. And I play in their game.
But maybe that's all changing.
Music has always been where my heart is - and I've found some smalltown friends that I can play with. Friends who take me in for who I am, and who are keen to trade harmonies and melodies for hours on end.
So I'm gonna do that.
Fuck everything else.
For now, I grind and churn out paper in the office of my father. But when that is done, I feel that east coast is calling my name. I miss the atlantic. I miss my friends. I guess I just miss me.
When The Wind Talks Back
This highway, she's hotter than nine shades of hell
And rides are as scarce as the rain
When you're down to your last shuck with nothin' to sell
And too far away from the train
It's been a good month of Sundays
I had a tall drink of yesterday's wine
Left a lot of good friends, some sheets in the wind
and satisfied women behind
Ride me down easy, Lord - Ride me on down
Leave word in the dust where I lay
Say I'm easy come, easy go and easy to love when I stay
There are some nights, moments after the last speck of dusk light has flickered out beyond the soft horizon, that we can see a long ways.
This is one of those very nights.
We go through phases and stages in this life. Sometimes we repeat, and sometimes we re-learn but we always, always, always ALWAYS fuck things up. One can spend a life trying the right the muddy trail of wrongs that skews out behind us, in the crusty tapestry of our path - but there is no cleaning that can take that away. No sweeping. No purging. What we've done has been done - and it will always be done. Nothing can be undone.
I think I'm realizing that I can be a difficult person to love.
I have regrets. I wish I'd done certain things differently, and I wish, at times, that I could have opened my thinking to beyond my own sub-galactic, tiny sphere of existence. Sometimes, the city heart in me would polarize everything around me and pedestalize my efforts, including those who loved and wanted the best for me.
And there are even some nights where the soft, warm tears will show up - life a shiver up your spine that you just can't shake. But it's always in those moist-lens moments that I feel the most thankful. It is in that frightful but epiphanal span that I feel the most awake - and the most alive. For as the teary regrets drizzle, I am often overwhelmed with a wide-eyed, soul-stinging gratitude.
I have been more than blessed to live the life that I've lived, and to have accrued the dog-eared, voluminous books of experience on the shelves of my heart.
But those shelves have room. There is still writing left to do. In fact, there always is, isn't there?
Lately, I've been visiting a farm from time to time with some small-town country pals. With the spring coming, just the deep-pink sunset view alone is worth the cost of the trip. The farm simplifies things, and the people I go with make me believe that there is something worth digging for in the mines of this life. The somber act of watching a horse and a donkey eat hay is so simplistic - and yet, it is enchanting. When you really let the truth sink in, and grasp that there really is life behind EVERY layer of what we see, you find it.
I remain the rappin' cowboy, and my meandering stereo switches between Waylon, the Beasties, Cash, Tribe and many more. I saunter on. Ten gallon hat tilted. Beats pumpin'.
Maybe I'll see ya. Maybe I won't. Whatever happens, keep being you.