Saturday, 31 January 2015

Against the Wind

"Against the wind, we were running against the wind..." these lines from Bob Segar sum up for me where I am in life right now. Still moving forward, despite challenges past and present that sometimes present as obstacles to my progress.

Hello Out There in blogland; it's been a while. I saw Bob Segar perform this past Saturday in Toronto. My brother and I caught a seat sale, a couple of reasonably priced tickets on Stub Hub and off we went. Bob is amongst my top five musical artists and with this concert I can now say I have seen all five live; the others being Springsteen (#1 by a mile who I've seen four times--twice at home in New Jersey), followed in no particular order by Tom Petty, John Fogarty (seen twice) & John Mellencamp. Music and the bonds it has created between my brothers and I is one of the many things in life I have to be grateful and happy about.

I turned 50 this past summer and nothing in my life has caused me to be more reflective of what I've accomplished so far than the reaching of that milestone. 50! It's a pretty big deal. I am glad to say I am trying to live life without dwelling on regret. Oh I do have ghosts and chains that continue to haunt and bind me and I wish I could shake completely, but thankfully I have learned the lesson that regret is pointless, beyond whatever lessons you take from it. So, I try not to let the ghosts haunt or the chains chafe too much.

I haven't been overly motivated to do much in the way of blogging recently. I'm afraid the end of riding season with it's accompanying dull weather ( and here in NL we can go for weeks without seeing the sun) is aggravating my tendency toward a lowered mood and sapping my creative energies. I have a number of refuelling strategies to get me through these periods and they work to various degrees. I have become a voracious reader, I always have a book on the go and my wife and I walk almost daily. The benefits to the mind of physical exercise are well documented and certainly do help Christmas was a bit too merry and there are seven or eight nagging new pounds to be shed. As well, My wife/partner/best bud have committed to finding shows on netflix we can get into and these too entertain and keep the mind engaged, so  it does not wander to places I'd rather it did not go. Writing too is a therapeutic pursuit and after a hiatus of several years, where I only wrote the occasional verse, I have recently written two entire songs and the reflective component of this is cathartic and the doing of it gives my mind that all important sense of productivity.

It's kind of ironic that the thing that sometimes puts me off blogging, i.e. low mental energy, actually facilitated this blog in that one of my strategies for combating this energy loss is reading. Two books I have read recently have gotten me to thinking and reflecting as us 50 + crowd do. It is that desire to share these reflections that prompted this latest entry. After tearing through the Stig Larsen's trilogy over Christmas starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Loved all three); then moving onto the Hunger Games Trilogy (engaging but a bit youngish for me) I then took on Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy. Fifth Business was engaging enough, The Manticore was really quite good, encouraging reflective bouts, and I raced through that one. The last one World of Wonders never really hooked me, but I'm within 60 pages of the end, so at some point I'll finish it because I just feel like I have to finish once I've started. I'm not sure this is a healthy trait as it has caused me to sit through some truly dreadful selections on Rogers Pay Per View i.e. I paid for it, I'm gonna watch it!!!!

Anyways, the books that have gotten me all fired up are Jon Kracauer's "Into The Wild, his story about Chris McCandless' ill-fated journey of self discovery and purification in the early 90's and the follow-up, written over 20 years later by McCandless' sister Carine,called The Wild Truth. On top of that, during my recent sojourn to Toronto I went to see a movie, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon. (yup, there really ain't as much to do in Toronto on a Friday night as you'd think, given it's the continent's 4th largest city.) , I enjoyed the movie and it's content and theme were consistent with Kracauer's book. Both the books and the movie put me in that reflective mood, thinking about the big questions i.e what is this life all about, what is of value. Amazingly ( or perhaps not) I reached the same conclusion I always do when I go there in my mind.Life is about keeping it simple and being true to your beliefs. Try to be the best person you can be, change what you can or want to, live with the rest and just try to leave the planet and the people you encounter a little better for your having been here. The Key to achieving all what makes you happy and don't be intimidated by the potential for regret. You will always be prouder of what you tried and failed at, than what you never attempted at all ( I owe that tidbit to my buddy Malcolm...that one and many others!)

It is with that mindset that I tackle this latest bout of winter blahs and missing the thing that fulfils me most (apart from family) my riding. It is that mindset that has me scouring Kijiji for a winter bike to ride when the weather allows. It is with that mindset that the song writing has picked up. It is also with that mindset that, upon entering Dundas Square Hard Rock Cafe , I went upstairs after fortuitously venturing in there for lunch on Bruce Springsteen jam day. I communed with a couple of dozen liked minded Bruce Fanatics who'd gathered to chat, jam and celebrate the Boss. Annnddd, fortified by a couple of Dark  N' Dirty Cap'Ns, I connected with Mark who played for me while I did a pretty brutal rendition of "Stolen Car" from the River Album. I don't know which I am prouder of, doing the song in front of a couple of dozen strangers, some far more talented than I, or being perfectly at ease with the fact that it was far from my best effort. No regrets!

I've already got a couple of books lined up to keep my mind occupied, and Sherry and I, having over Christmas enjoyed the five seasons of Friday Night Lights (Landry did not get his due, by the way), are now hooked on a British crime drama called Scott and Bailey on NetFlix. It's kind of a British Cagney & Lacey.

So, The battle rages on as, Mr. Segar sang so eloquently, against the wind... but battle I shall. I shall read, write, walk, watch, sing and survive. I will also celebrate as I did Thursday upon learning my oldest little girl is one of only 10% of applicants annually accepted to Dalhousie Law School.

So, until the next thought crosses my mind that I feel like sharing, this will have to do for now. Oh, this and a tune. I wrote this one whilst thinking about the big things, a while ago now. Seems maybe I spend a lot of time thinking 'bout the big picture.

In case my caterwalling was a bit too unintelligible, here are the lyrics;
Arms of God ----TR
Well, the snow crunches 'neath my feet, 
on this still and pure winter's night.
The moon & the stars make the sky complete,
what will be, will be alright.

My ride she's waitin' at the end of the drive,
her engine purrin' like she knows there's a plan.
But all I got's a vague direction,
faded footprints in the sand.

Ah, Jesus can you hear me?
Is my signal gettin' through?
I need to know if what I was told,
Is any of it true?
Is this faith or desperation?
Is this just darkness or the shadow of the cross?
Will there be but dust and desolation,
or will I rest in the arms of God, in the arms of God?

Wrapped in corinthian leather, 
secure inside Detroit's finest steel.
Each sense is naked.
Each sensation is surreal.

Tonight I'll ride into the valley of death,
brother Jesus be my guide.
As o'er the river of the tears of lost souls,
I will stand with you on the other side....

Repeat chorus twice.... The End!