Things run their course for one reason or another. What we enjoy and anticipate doing wears off over time. That’s the human condition. We get bored of the same thing over and over no matter how good it is. Call it sedition. Shrimp and champagne were great yesterday but not so soon again today. Steak and beer? Sure. Ice cream and pretzels. Not again. Not right now. Still, some things are eternal.
[My first draft was about this being my last entry, but as I wrote about my feelings, they changed. Like Otis Redding singing, “Stop this pain in my heart”, the more I said and wrote about quitting, the less I wanted to quit. Too much desire on this side of the keyboard to stop, but enough static to think about it.]
Springsteen is great, but not again right now. Santana too. My ears are sound burned, perhaps because my mind is unspunked. Put the records away for now. Marvin, Clapton, Hendrix, give me a rest, just for now. Hmmm, you know Johnny Cash sounded so good near his death. Eternity sang harmony with his rough hewn voice, sanding away any false sentiments. Potent as formaldehyde with a whiskey chaser.
Smoked a pack a day back in the day. Never again. Nicotine is anxiety’s best bad friend.Thirty five years ago my pregnant wife asked me to smoke outside where it was 5o degrees below zero. I smoked one and concluded that the entire habit was stupid. It was one of my top ten decisions in life, below following God, marrying my wife, and having kids, doing therapy, oh, and quitting teaching.
Gardening was once a tender joy for me, watching a pepper plant stand tall and bear fruit once filled me with wonder. I still like gardening, but not as much. The fertile magic diminished as the work increased. Other good things came knocking on the same door, but the man behind it grew tired.
Golf was a cool thing briefly. Maybe I’ll go back to it when I’m retired for the second time. Oh what a fight, though, just to be average. Like chess, you can learn a lot about a buddy over 18 holes. How men handle failure tells you a lot about their character. Golf rewards the man who has efficiently done the least work.
I had a phase when I liked to play with tiles, finding wholeness in broken things. There is untapped potential in a good dumpster, my friends. Finding mosaic beauty is a noble cause. The whole gives meaning to each disparate piece. My writing is similarly mosaic, lacking meaning in the particulars. If you fuzz your mind, you might find some value in the whole. Then again you might find nothing more than rubbish. I guess it depends on what you went looking for.
Used to run seriously. Seriously, I was slow but steady for 3, 5 or 7 miles. Felt so good and alive to find that runner’s zone of zen outside myself. A body in space obeying gravity and healthy guidelines. But the joints jabbered in pain and my back joined in the chorus.
Then I drew and did water color cards, little pictures that held a wordless story I somehow needed to tell. When I stopped that practice, I realized it was my way of unloading daily anxiety onto paper with lines and shapes and colors. Each card was a 90 minute journey away from the lion’s jaws.
Hunting tickled something in me I did not know was there till it was gone. Primal, visceral, powerful, and essential. You need a license, though, and some planning. After you pull the trigger, it’s all work. Unlikely to go there again.
Chess has always been a faithful friend, however, always fun. Look out retirement village. I’ll be check mating till my foolscap matures into full blown dementia.
Now it’s ballroom dancing with my bride. Maybe the best of all endeavors I’ve ever sampled. The zen of twoness puts a smile on my face when we mirror one another successfully. Mates, take my worn down soles advice: dance with your woman while you both can still move.
Brewing beer or making wine has that same sort of appeal for me, though I’ve never done either. On the way to work this morning I began to ruminate about making figurative “Grandpa Wine”. I was talking to my beloved granddaughter by phone yesterday, promising to nibble her toes off in my dinosaur voice, which she loves to rebuke in her three year old squeal. “No, Granpa. Don’t eat me!”
“I made my bed.”
“Oh, I’m so proud of you. Good girl.”
“I made mommy and daddy’s bed too.”
“Whoa! You sure are a good big sister.”
“I uh, I uh, uh I want you to be a dinosaur again and chase me.”
“Weeeeee. No, Granpa. don’t eat me.”
“I can’t, Honey, you are holding mommy’s phone. Just give it to her if you get scared.”
“Okay, be a dinosaur again. EEEEh!!
These little moments are super sugar-saturated grapes that drop from life’s vine
Only to be squeezed into wonderful Granpa wine
Sweet whispered breaths and wisps of hair
Giggles and laughs, smiles and smirks we share
All go into the batch
We jump around and flop
on all these things And try to catch
Explosions of joy spring out of her soul
While to keep up I crawl
She sings and poses
Bows in the kitchen to pick up imaginary roses
Only to be squeezed into Granpa wine.
Funnel the juice in magnum bottles to the max
Seal with crisp Corks covered in wax
Break out a bottle on Thanksgiving
To toast our fun loving and living
Share old times as your eyes shine
And a familiar warmth runs up your spine
Before my funeral bells chime
Sip and savor this Granpa wine
Note the bouquet of wild berries and stale Cheetos
And just a hint of nibbled off toes.
It must age as the flavors unfold,
But Granpa wine will never grow old.