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What If You Landed On A Strange Planet?

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UFO

Freefallin’…..

UFO’s have been in the news quite a bit lately.

I’m intrigued by the notion of UFO’s and how we humans visualize what an alien landing on our “shores” might look like or act.

Rarely do we see an imagined extraterrestrial closely resembling an earth human… more often we see greenish-toned creatures with scales and large ferocious teeth.

UFO’s are scary and threatening to us in most cases.

Yet, if we were to travel to another planet that had living beings, would we really enter their air space with murder and mayhem in our hearts? Wouldn’t peace and harmony be our message?

And so we come to this week’s blog… this week’s song.

To make this more real and “down-to-earth”, I’m posting this set of song lyrics about “aliens” in my own world, equating their arrival in Canada to the scenario of a UFO arriving on the surface of our earth.

In previous posts I’ve talked about how I work and play with a Syrian refugee family in my area who have lived in this foreign land of Canada for almost 4 years.

The old world they left behind, and the new one they entered when they disembarked from a jet onto the tarmac at Pearson Airport in Toronto are light-years apart for these lovely people.

The young parents’ lives have been flipped and shaken as if they were rag dolls.

Syrian family

Musically, I hear a quiet bass droning in the background as the melody of guitar and recorder plays out a march, like a ticking clock moving forward in time.

This song could be sub-titled:

One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for a Syrian.

YOU ARE A UFO

The schoolyard dust a daily friend
farm that held no borders
The air was calm and warm
your brothers’ calls familiar
then a new day broke hell
with clouds that lit a storm

You packed a bag and wandered far
along quiet lines with many others
left your home where soldiers warred
where bombs and bullets threatened
bully tyrant who ripped your life
your tears he never cared for

….

CHORUS

You are a UFO that landed
in this universe apart
in hibernation from your nation
soul burned across a border
and a home that’s just a house

….

Years slid by in sun-baked camp
Your eyes so shy, smile drained and dry
yet morning breaks another day awoke
phone call beckoned with a chance
one week later you climbed the steps
to a westward craft of hope

The others greeted you with smiles and promise
strange words that made no sense
trembling smiles over months and years
dreamy memories crushed under winter’s ice
through long night’s darkness cloak
your kids never saw your tears

You feel the stares the daily threat
the stories from the news
when you wander streets with kids in tow
lunch-bags and schoolbooks under arms
others spy your covered head and shake
about dangers that somehow you impose

BRIDGE:

How long will this prison hold you?
when will the air smell sweet again?
and carefree gossip with your neighbour
turns your hair to grey

The pace is slow the march relentless
new words bloom up like flowers
low prayers take hold in clash of courage
coiled spring relinquish power
now worries that afflict the native ones
are the stakes that frame this brand new cage

….

CHORUS

You are a UFO that landed
in this universe apart
in hibernation from your nation
soul burned across a border
and a house that looks like… home

happy syrian family

The Magic of Fingers and WHY

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30

My youngest daughter turned 30 last week. Not oldest… youngest!

I turned 30 just the week before. OK, maybe 2 weeks ago.

No, I’m not a time traveller, but the sensation of time is a fluid, rapid thing like warm sand slip-sliding between your toes at the beach.

Being 30 means you’re not middle-aged yet, but you’ve definitely boarded the ocean liner that carries you over the seas from childhood and the orbit of your parents into the grown-up world with most of the trappings of adulthood.

Job. Home. Maybe kids.

You should can wander around your house naked if you want to and your Mom won’t scream at you.

It’s mostly fun and exciting but scary and jammed with worries too.

I worry about my kids because I’ve lived through the years that are to come for them.

The time between say, 30 and 60, is where you strap on your seatbelt and buckle in for the bumpy ride. Some cope well and fly to the stars, others flounder and drown beneath the weight.

Either trip is filled with challenges.

Family, jobs and responsibilities grow and multiply, and then somewhere in there… most of us exchange the solid ground that is our parents beneath us, and find we’re freefloating with a parachute attached to nothing but cool, thin air.

It’s like we’ve thrown away our diaper now and hope like hell we don’t sh*t our pants.

why.jpg

After 30 is also when we begin to discover if the directions we’ve chosen are where we truly saw our dreams… our WHY… or perhaps if it’s someone else’s dream we’re pursuing.

We all develop a definition of success – in it’s myriad forms – in our heads… the WHY is hopefully what leads us down that path.

WHY is a million questions, but it’s the answers that tell us who we really are.

A small example… I ask myself WHY do I write a blog post every week with no attempt or hope of ever making a livelihood from the effort expended.

My readership (thank you for being in that group) is small and swamped in a expansive world of words and thoughts from every direction.

The voice that ponders and then answers my WHY question is the one that finds expression in writing where it can’t seem to find it in spoken words.

Things happen when I sit to write, just as they do when I sit and play my guitar.

I THINK IT’S ABOUT MY FINGERS.

There are guidelines, understanding, and points of view that reside somewhere deep inside me and refuse to come to the surface until my fingers are moving… it’s like my brain and fingers have a mystical connection… I don’t even try to look behind the curtain for the Wizard, because a wizard, a muse if you prefer… is magic.

Perhaps you find that same wonder through your religious beliefs, or it could be that you have a connection between your brain and your tongue that I lack.

I like the illusion of magic and wonder so I don’t question. I accept. It’s pretty childlike really.

Maybe that’s why I like children’s books.

They engage our imagination and sense of wonder whether we’re 3 or 30 or even 60-something.

Writing this blog draws out my own wonder about myself, you, and the cosmos surrounding us.

Talk about magic in my fingers… ABRACADABRA

 

guitar magic

Photographs and Memories Are Silly

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family photo 1960.jpg

You know how you enjoy going through old photo albums and reminiscing about your friends and family and your bizarre hairstyle – and OMG those clothes you were wearing?  Why did your mother let you wear THAT skirt? What the hell were you thinking?

So silly.

I’ve been writing this “Fringe” blog for 7+ years now and after 384 posts, I’ve packed up a suitcase load of words and shared mercilessly.

I’ve filled buckets of seriousness and barrels of silliness… it’s a recipe that kind of sums up life, doesn’t it?

And for anyone who thinks that workplace retirement is a time of total relaxation and leisure, there’s another door you might want to look behind in your own Oz-World that contains a few dozen time-consumers…

Which brings me to this blog post… I have a closet-full of items to be attending to this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (cutting down monster hedges and music practice and tutoring and meal prep for a large gang) … and so I’ve given myself permission (thank you Larry) to recycle and reuse… no, not my favourite old and well-worn Calvin Klein boxers… nope… today I’m recycling/reposting a blog post from this month 5 years ago.

Speaking of Oz-World, I took in the film JUDY this week… Ms. Garland was trapped in a world of sadness mixed with ecstasy and way too much drugs and alcohol. Perhaps a dose of silliness like I’ve described below would have de-stressed her days a tiny bit… maybe silliness would have allowed Judy to spend a bit more time on this planet amongst us… but alas, she’s over the rainbow now…

On this Canuck Thanksgiving weekend, I hope you find a few moments of silliness to tickle your inner self … cuz, Thanksgiving is… In Your Pants!

 

Silly is … In My Pants

October 4, 2015

PEI Autumn

I’m just beginning to see millions of leaves succumb to their slow, colourful deaths as we pass the fall equinox. It makes dying a beautiful thing.

And it got me to thinking about changes, and seasons, and those things that are predictable in our lives and other things that change and surprise us.

Take the moon for example. We all know that full moons contribute to the “surprise” factor.

Full moons make crazy things happen, things we’d never expect. This past week’s Harvest “Blood” Moon – wasn’t it stunning? – probably had more impact than usual.

Something that surprised me? Maybe it was full moon inspired?

Singer/Songwriter James Taylor got really silly on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show the other night.

Yup, James Taylor. I love his music but he isn’t normally a silly kind of guy.

“You’ve Got A Friend” and “Fire and Rain” are beautiful, deep, hardly silly songs. He croons serious songs that melt into our hearts and our heads.

Silly? Adding the words, “in my pants…” at the end of each line of Taylor’s music definitely qualifies as silly. ” … But I always thought that I’d see you again… in my pants

So it must have been the moon. Right? Must have been.

Thank you James for reminding me that we all need to be silly sometimes.

Silliness can be an important part of our humanity, our ability to cope when times grow tough. Norman Cousins (Anatomy of an Illness) wrote all about finding humour and laughter in life when confronted with serious pain or illness.

Sometimes I find myself slipping into an earnest seriousness. I have to slap myself on the side of the head to remember to be silly, not to take everything so damned humourlessly. Then I feel better.

Fix the mood and everyone dances like feathers …

There’s a guy who is my age that I work with in the Greek restaurant where I’m a bartender … he’s a server/waiter. Let’s call him Fred.

When everything is calm and quiet, he’s sweet and charming. Full of light humour and smiles. Mr. Congeniality.

But once lineups form at the door, tables in the restaurant fill up, and the hum of activity snarls into a roar, Fred turns into a yelling monstrosity of an animal. He becomes a toddler that only knows “ME“!

It’s like he might just throw himself to the floor and begin crying and stamping his feet unless everyone does everything for him … RIGHT NOW!!

Cosby as Dr. Jeykll

I don’t like Fred much at these moments. His blood pressure readings must be reaching into the clouds way above us.

Later, when customers begin shuffling out of the restaurant, sated and satisfied and a teensy bit tipsy from the delicious libations I’ve poured, Fred sloughs off his nasty mask and returns to his “resting pulse” rate of friendly and charming.

He’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a serving tray and a menu pad.

I can’t blame the moon for Fred’s tantrums. This is his normal reaction, the way he copes when stress begins to pile on.

I feel badly for him and badly for those around him who have to do their jobs despite his vile behaviour. Fred should try singing, “… in my pants“.

But let me tell you about another server I work with – let’s call him Mark – somewhat younger, who always finds a way to laugh and giggle through the busiest times.

He’s smart and good at his job, just like Fred, but Mark always finds a way to stay calm and goofy.

Mark gets the same work accomplished as Fred but everyone around him is more relaxed and smiley as he does his thing.

Mark works two jobs most days and is on his feet for hours and hours at a time, always with a smile and a goofy laugh. I like working with and being around Mark. He makes me calmer and sillier.

We all have our own unique personalities and ways of coping when things turn tough. It’s hard to smile sometimes.

I know I can stress out and get tense and humourless.

But I’m trying really hard to find the silliness, the humour in every situation. Really good or really bad.

Humour is like air … you can’t always see it with your eyes but it’s blowing and floating around us, helping us survive the tough stuff.

Maybe humour is like a religious tonic for non-believers, soothing us when times get rough, a bridge over troubled waters.

When things get busy in the restaurant this evening … while Fred is flailing disruptively, I figure Mark and I will be hearing “…in my pants” dancing in our heads.

... in my pants ... and I ain't afraid to show it ...

 

When Atlas Shrugged

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Atlas Shrugging

Pack of wolves…

For millennia, boys and men have felt nature’s sense of entitlement… entitlement based on a physical strength that accorded power and control to the strongest.

Darwinian capacity fulfilled.

Women were born to a position of weaker subservience, and often fear, when physical strength meant more than common sense or morality or intellectual capacity.

This is the world I was born into and have hesitantly participated in to some degree… less than some, and more than others, I’m sure.

I carry within me a gnawing sense of guilt and shame for my gender’s role in the historical storyline, almost like any slave-owner or pillager of history should.

And so, with these thoughts rolling around the back recesses this week, I’ve penned a lyrical song/story of male privilege in this #MeToo world that was a long time coming.

Overdue charges are calling out for recompense, and it sometimes – often – is a confusing place for us men who are learning and adapting to a new world order where equality in all its forms is on the rise.

I envision approaching this musically in a Jim Croce ballad-style (think New York’s Not My Home, or Lover’s Cross) with lots of soft finger picking and a crescendo towards the end of the chorus.

confusion um

WHEN ATLAS SHRUGGED

We’d play out in the schoolyard
I’d pull your hair and trip you
we kids all knew that that was fun
and even when those days were done
we’d still do this after we’d grown up
and somehow’s still alright
Cuz you’d just grin and bear it
shed tears alone at night

Fancy jobs they came along and
all I’d have to say was
I need this for my kids and wife
god weren’t those good times of life
I’d smile that knowing grin
you’d stand back and watch me rise
that was OK back then right?
when we were golden guys

CHORUS
I’m only a confusion
A child was born
but man was made
This bed of rock
has turned to dust
Athena shared her misty shadow
When mighty Atlas Shrugged.

My libido took a mountain climb
Titanic in my pants
a few bucks and a winking eye
young corner girl that he can buy
Your kids cry out for milk and bread
slip on a slinky dress, tuck away your pride
turn and wipe away the sticky mess
was it worth the twenty-five?

BRIDGE
Voice’s changing
Marching of the guard
Voice’s changing

CHORUS
I’m only a confusion
A child was born
but man was made
This bed of rock
has turned to dust
Athena shared her misty shadow
When mighty Atlas Shrugged

woman carrying man