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On The Road To Becoming a Dinosaur…

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I’m not fully there yet … but, for God’s sake, just send in the meteor now to decimate me totally like the real dinosaurs.

Actually, I’d suggest shoving me off on some northern ice floe but those are mostly melted away now, replaced by Arctic yachts, Inuit bikinis and palm trees, yes?

WHAT? That sounds a bit desperate Larry.

So, am I correct in thinking that I’m losing my power, cracking open the door to irrelevance… to dinosaur’dom?

First, the glaringly obvious – yes, my arms are growing shorter (actually, it might be my spine *measure myself against the wall* … yes, it definitely IS my spine that is shorter)… my skin is getting scaly and rough… and when I get up to pee in the night (dinosaurs always got up to pee in the night, yes?), I sort of wobble back and forth on my legs like a T-Rex or a human toddler, until I feel my balance sensors kick in.

But not all the signs of dinosaur’osity are so undisguised.

It’s taken a few years for me to realize and understand this transfer of “power”, but it’s growing clearer to me that a transformation is underway and will likely develop more completely in years to come.

Sometimes, it takes a while to understand that small changes add up to a larger shift. Only when we look back afterwards, is it blindingly obvious.

OK, I sense your confusion. It might not be clear what I’m getting at, so let me go into more detail. I’ll give you 3 examples in today’s TedTalk… er.. LarryTalk!

1. PROFESSIONAL Work. I was a medical lab technologist for 37 years, most spent in the Microbiology trenches, hunched over agar plates, identifying bacteria, parasites, and fungi that cause infection and then informing doctors which antibiotics or other therapeutics would most likely be successful in eradicating the little microscopic buggers.

It was only in the last 5 years or so of my career that I became truly cognizant of the rapidity of change in knowledge and best-in-class treatment options. The pace was scary. I began worrying about my ability (and honestly, desire) to keep current.

When the fateful day came that I stayed awake at night worrying if I had provided the “best” treatment advice available, I knew that I had to make a MAJOR effort to regain/retain currency, or get the hell out of the way for those with the drive and energy to take it on. I was shape-shifting into a dinosaur.

Instead, I morphed into a happy computer database geek for the last few years of my working career and left the agonizing worry behind. I probably saved a few lives in making this change which kind of makes me a SuperHero, right? (No Attaboy‘s needed here!)

 

2. YOUNG folks begin to talk “around” me. My road to invisibility is slowly being built as kids in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s no longer view me as a source of infinite wisdom, knowledge and authority. Omnipotence Lost.

I can see it coming at me in my world because I know a few decades back, I began looking at my elders in a similar way. I found myself viewing them as pseudo-dinosaurs who deserved respect, but bit-by-bit I realized that I wasn’t putting as much weight or blind belief in their words. The new world was passing them by.

Akin to my first point above, the younger generation(s) can see that older people are struggling to keep up with the humongous social and technological changes that are overtaking us. I’m pretty sure the earthquake – the massive turning point – was when we found seniors’ living rooms filled with VCR’s that flashed 12:00 incessantly.

 

3. INVESTMENT tenets. I’ve been an amateur “investment analyst” for decades, developing a toolbox of skills that have helped provide me and my family a reasonable standard-of-living despite a relatively small income.

It has been a stimulating hobby that just happened to have a financial payday attached. But… big but (not BUTT, not yet at least!)… these investing tools I relied on for decades are slipping because of rapid technology change.

For sure, the principles and tenets of analysis are still valid, but they reflect a world of much slower change. As I’ve told my own kids, ten years ago I could, for example, count on big banks and large industries that were well-managed to produce good returns to me as a shareholder for many many years to come.

Now, because of disruptive technology and logarithmically fast research efforts, the strongest of the strong can be knocked off their pedestal overnight. We are making buggy-whip makers of almost every “old” company in weeks and months instead of years and decades. We can only guess who the winners and losers might be.

The only solution I can come up with at this moment is to hold a large, diversified bag of well-run “new age” companies, knowing that it will only require a couple of winners to make a successful portfolio. 

……………..

So my friends… I’ve got my eyes wide open, bobbing like a prize boxer, as I (Yoda) try to dodge the meteor that threatens my relevant existence.

We’re all in the same ring, floating like butterflies, doing the magic dance of keeping up.

It’s fascinating and dizzying, exciting and scary.

Do you think the real dinosaurs saw the meteor before it finally hit?

The Best Place and Time to Die… Nowhere and Never…

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funeral on ganges

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The idea is to die young as late as possible”

Ashley Montagu

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The sunshine in our days is growing shorter and I’m growing longer in morbid thoughts. It’s an annual tradition I celebrate with hot roast turkey and cranberries while giving thanks.

Death is a part of my DNA… literally.

It is for you too, and so we all think about it, some more than others.

My own “bible” says that if we lived in a world with 16 hours of daylight every day no matter the season or time of year, we’d smile and never die and never know anyone who has died. That’s the power of sunshine.

This would be my Garden of Eden. No apples of temptation, no sneaky serpents, but the running around naked part stays put. I’m convinced.

The notion of death is easy to come across these days not only because of the COVID virus but also because there’s huge amounts of scientific data spewing from research labs that are shining spotlights on the aging process (eg. stem cell treatment, senescent cell removal, CRISPR technology and others) and how we can reset the epigenetic clock and delay the onset of “not living”.

With each passing month, scientists are driving us closer to a length-of-life that more closely resembles the biblical ages of such well-known celebs as Moses and Job (or Ibrahim in Islamic faith) who reportedly lived well beyond 100.

……………

John Green: “You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence”

Isaac Asimov: “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”

Dylan Thomas: “Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Benjamin Franklin: “Most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75.”

Woody Allen: “It’s not that I’m afraid to die,
I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

“I have a very low threshold of death.
My doctor says I can’t have bullets enter my body at any time.”

…………….

So while I’m hopeful that we all surpass the century mark of aging (while remaining healthy), death is our lifetime companion, like a child’s imaginary friend that we all have but can never truly share with another.

We all must die alone in the sense that we pass through the door one at a time, like a turnstile at a sporting event.

Given its inevitability, what is THE best way to die?

Death… rapid-onset, or slowly drawn-out is shocking. There is NO good way to die because the end result is that you’re no longer alive.

There’s no easy or right answer.

I bump into folks all the time who opine on the best way to die. It’s great party chatter.

I wanna just drop dead on the sidewalk… BOOM!

A lot seem to think that a sudden demise- maybe a bullet to the head-  is the perfect solution to life’s thorniest conclusion.

It’s uncomplicated and “painless”. It’s like an “Irish goodbye”, leaving quietly out the side door of a party or bar without saying goodbye to anyone.

dead chalk outline

Others prefer the more drawn-out ending where you are conscious of your final days. The downside here is that longer deaths are often wrapped part-and-parcel with agonizing pain or discomfort, sometimes a foggy confusion.

Let me lay on my death bed for weeks, get my affairs in order, and tell my loved ones how much they’ve meant to me…

Yup, there’s no happy or easy answer, and much like the unknowable question of whether a God does or does not exist, in the majority of cases, we aren’t allowed the decision.

For me, given a game-show choice – Door A or Door B – as part artist, part-scientist… I’d take the hybrid highway, Door C… no express check-out, but also no long, drawn-out painful plod to the finish line.

My own wish is for a (lucid and relatively painless) week or two to wave from the deck of my personal Titanic.

Perhaps our aging-research scientists will be the artists that one day allow us all to become the “forever 21” Dorian Gray.

Until then, I’m going outside to do my Sun Dance for a few more hours of delicious Vitamin D.

BREAKING NEWS for MEN: 8 Tricks to Look Like George Clooney Beyond Middle Age…

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WELCOME to my

DIY Handsomeness Course

Last week I mentioned that I stopped aging at 19, but that was only partly true.

The rest of the story is below…

Full disclosure: I stopped MATURING at age 19… ie. my mental maturity got stuck in the mud like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth (this happens to men a lot). Bad news.

The physical side of me – my face and body – felt left out by the process, so in nasty retribution they went into a hyper-speed zone after I chronologically traversed the teenager divide into adulthood (this also happens to men a lot). More bad news.

Having the V-shaped physique that marks a virile, stud-muffin man can be a problem if the apex of the V begins at your neck and hits full wide-open stride at your waist. Yes, this too is bad news.

So here I am now, stuck with a juvenile mentality and looking for a physical reversal and rejuvenation, sort of a Benjamin Buttoning of my outward appearance.

For sure it’s an ego trip, a full-fledged vanity expedition, probably resulting from the unintended ingestion of too many late-night infomercials.

It’s akin to when I was a kid, when I believed the comic book ads, the cunning tripe that tried to sell me the magic scope that would allow me to see through women’s clothing… creepy stuff that flared a pre-hormonal boy’s wistful dreams. Boob city for only $1.00 + $ .25 S+H?

Sucker born every minute, right PT Barnum?

This week I’ve been doing a little extra GOOGLE research into male anti-aging solutions that will offer me more Sean Connery and less Mystical Connery.

Here are a few things I’ve been reading about and will sift to determine which I should try so that my face and body match my juvenile mentality.

*The Small Print Disclaimer*: Please don’t try ANY of these “solutions”- no one wants to look like me!

  1. NECK TAPE – my turkey neck syndrome is solved with this clear medical-grade tape that is placed on the back of the neck. The instructions are simple: Grab your neck skin at the nape, pull it back, tape it in place, and then cover the evidence with your hair. The result is a fairly slim and firm-looking neck. Maybe I can make this a part of my daily “manly” routine in addition to SSS (S*&t, Shower & Shave). Unintended positive side effect: ripping off the tape at the end of the day gets rid of the unwanted hair on the back of my neck… DOUBLE SCORE!
  2. URINE DRINK – Brit Harry Matadeen, 32, leaves his urine for up to a month, before drinking a glass every day and massaging it into his skin every morning. The health coach says the ‘free and powerful medicine that can cure all manner of diseases’ has made him healthier and smarter than ever before – and claims he now gets mistaken for a man in his 20’s thanks to its anti-aging qualities. I’m only sad knowing that I poured thousand of litres of urine down the sink in my career as a lab technologist. I could have had the skin of 6 month-old baby with early knowledge of this miracle drink! Forget those “green smoothies”, yellow has the power.
  3. BIRD POOP FACE MASK – Nightingale droppings have been used in facials since ancient Japanese times. The guano from the nightingale has a high concentration of urea and guanine. Because birds excrete a fecal and urine waste from a single opening, called the cloaca, the fecal-urine combination gives the droppings a high concentration of urea. Urea is sometimes found in cosmetics because it locks moisture into the skin. The guanine may produce shimmery, iridescent effects on the skin. It’s speculated that because of the short intestine of the nightingale, the droppings have protein, a fat-degrading enzyme, and a whitening enzyme that acts on fat and scurf to whiten skin and even out blemishes. Holy Shit… Sign me up!
  4. PONYTAIL or COMB-OVER?– OK, what dude doesn’t look great with a youthful ponytail, or better yet, a comb-over? I won’t even go into detail here because we all know that a semi-balding fella always looks more lusty and fertile with one of these age-defying trendy do’s.
  5. VIAGRA CREAM – Sagging jowls and eyelids got you down? Forget BOTOX. Forget the ED use of this solid wonder product. Viagra enhancement cream liberally smeared on the face daily will stiffen and engorge the skin with huge blood flow to bring a man’s face to attention in no time. Sure, it’s an off-label use, but I’ve heard it’s on the White House list of effective COVID treatments too. What could go wrong? Visit a doctor if your face goes stiff for more than 4 hours.
  6. WEAR A “BRO” – This is a no-brainer friends. No one wants to look at a cute older couple walking along the ocean boardwalk on a warm evening and try to determine if the man or woman has saggier hooters. If your 100 pushup per day routine just isn’t firming up those masculine pecs, then it’s time to try out the 2020 WonderBro. No separation, just lift. Keep the female eyes on your (Viagra’d) face and not your chest, boys.
  7. FULL BODY WAXING – Steve Carell had the right idea in The 40 Year-Old Virgin *cue the screams*. In today’s world, any body hair below the neck is too much body hair. Believe me, I know. Immersion in a warm, syrupy wax tank followed by a full body rip is the ultimate solution to the question “why haven’t I cried lately“?
  8. JAW CHISEL SURGERY – ever watched hip replacement surgery? It’s a joy to see the Home Depot saws and hammers and chisels emerge from Operating Room drawers after the patient is comatose. Those same miracle tools can be put to good use on your chin by all the Dr. Michelangelo’s out there. There’s no way that Clooney and Connery came by those chiselled chins naturally. The DAVID statue and Mount Rushmore had less work done than either of those two.

So guys, you should be feeling pretty pumped and well-equipped now to send your face and body into reverse gear.

You’re gonna love being a teenager again (except for the acne)!

The Flight of Wisdom to the Centre of the Universe and Back…

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Centre of the universe

Please fasten your seatbelt. Your adventure begins…

When you’re a really little kid, you’re the Centre of the Universe.

You can do anything you want, and Mommy will still wipe your messy bottom and call you the BEST and CUTEST, right?

You are golden stardust, a Princess or Prince.

This is the perfect time of life to make your hit-list and murder anyone you hate and walk away with an impish smile. You have a short-term Get Out of Jail Free card. Congratulations!

Time and timing are everything… yes…

Time is a beautiful gift that’s lost on the young and naive.

Time is forever. Time has no bounds or borders.

But we mortal humans do.

No one tells you this but… for the next 40, 50, 60, 100 years… you’re just a tiny dot of a planet surrounded by infinity and black holes.

It’s a f*&%ing shocker when all that golddust sloughs off and responsibility is in your own hands. No one will wipe your bottom anymore. What’s with that?

Nobody will offer to shave your face in the morning, or insert a tampon on your behalf (if they do, get out your can of bear spray).

You’re adrift in a world of others who are also tiny planets. Try killing someone now – even accidentally – and you’re sporting a stylish orange jumpsuit before you can say Dead Man Walking.

The “adrift” shock wears off, evolving into a sense of independent power when you feel your muscles grow strong and agile and energetic. Your mind absorbs and synthesizes and swells like an empty sponge in a full bathtub.

Like the universe, you expand and expand and learn incalculable facts and lessons until after a long period of decades and trial, you begin to understand the meaning of the word wisdom.

Wisdom’s not a mere jumble of letters in a dictionary anymore, but something that is earned and real. You’re now a Guardian of the Universe. Congratulations again!

guardian

Time, which has always been an endless renewable resource, somehow sheds its disguise and begins to have real meaning too. You can almost touch it and gaze at it with wonderment, and perhaps… even a germination of fear.

Wonderment because important stuff (physical, emotional, spiritual) can only be acquired through the passage of time, and fear because time soon becomes an hourglass of diminishing sand.

And one day… one day… hopefully far off in the future…. your universe slowly and then more rapidly, begins to draw back, picking up speed, and shrinks.

Days are passed searching for reading glasses and keys and removing body hair that surely no caring god would ever inflict on his/her/their worst enemy.

Little owies become daily companions, like a hot morning latte.

Seriously, in my younger days, when some wise senior said “life is pain” I thought it was metaphorical; not, like, “everything from the neck down is arthritis and joint replacements.”

If you’re fortunate, your ability to shave yourself, and slip on your own absorption pads, will last until you’ve squeezed the last droplets of time from the sponge, the final grains of sand from the hourglass. This is my wish for me and for you.

Now, with the wisdom – the mystical treasure you finally possess – you see yourself slipping back into a time and space where once again, you’re the Centre of the Universe. Congratulations on completion of your roundtrip adventure.

All that wisdom sits proudly on a revered library shelf in your head, waiting for an inquisitive young mind seeking guidance in their daily challenges.

A young mind that knows what it is to be the Centre of the Universe, and is heading out on the great journey to the stars building their own bookshelf of wisdom.

wisdom bookshelf 2

 

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

Let’s Bake You A Banana Cake

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beatle bananas

Remember a couple of weeks back when I said I’d be using you to help me work on songwriting? You do?

Fabulous!

‘Cause this is where we are today and I’ve got a few lyrical lines to share.

They’re pretty simple ones… nothing too flowery or poetically profound … but heartfelt and melancholy for me … and for others in my family.

I confuse myself. There must be a fatal flaw inside me because when I sit to write lyrics I almost always begin with the thought that … “this one I want to be light and fun and maybe even silly”

… and then this shade of darkness bubbles to the surface out of nowhere… maybe I’m the Nowhere Man I mention in the song … maybe …

Anyway… here are some song lyrics I’ve written about my older brother – diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 7 years ago.

He rides the amusement park rollercoaster where he’s stuck on the downhill slope with no chance for an uphill boost.

Screenshot_2019-06-08 Louis Tomlinson Helps 83-Year-Old Man Whose Wife Died from Alzheimer's Check Things Off His Bucket List.png

Today he’s far removed from the erudite, quirky intellectual – a PhD chemist, Monty Python lover – his family and friends knew for many decades. He lives in a care facility where he slowly dwindles but retains his easy smile and gentle demeanour.

It’s such a common scenario for so many …

If you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement, fire them at me.

Let’s go my friends:

Let’s Bake You A Banana Cake

VERSE
I called my brother the other day
when he answered I knew he wasn’t there
his voice held up strong but
the same world we didn’t share
at least not anymore.

VERSE
It’s funny that you can hear a smile
though the sound travels a thousand miles
the words are a salad, they even sound sane
Do you think you can remember my name?
No, not anymore

VERSE
Books linger hushed on your shelf
framed photos pretty your little room’s walls
with blue summer skies and childhood smiles
are prairie breezes sharing your favourite waltz?
I don’t think so anymore

CHORUS


Maybe you’re Lennon’s Nowhere Man
so let’s bake you a banana cake
’cause you’re kind of already there
there’s a batter of sorts
all mixed up of course
And you don’t know what you’re missing

VERSE
So let’s chat lightly for a bit mon frère
I’ll ask the questions, make the chatter
You’re pretty cheery so does it really matter?
We’ve sipped some wine, skied some trails
but, perhaps, not anymore

BRIDGE
There’s a thief in the house
taken the marbles and flown
the halls echo empty where you once roamed

CHORUS


Maybe you’re Lennon’s Nowhere Man
so let’s bake you a banana cake
’cause you’re kind of already there
there’s a batter of sorts
all mixed up of course
And you don’t know what you’re missing.

banana cake.jpg

The Carousel of Cardio & Pain*

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MoS2 Template Master

Is there anything better than waking up to the screaming voices of tortured muscles and limbs?

Don’t answer that … yet!

You know, the body parts that have been stretched and run and twisted and pushed to a moderate degree beyond comfort while exercising.

It’s no secret that I’m a goal-oriented dude who, paradoxically prefers nothing better than hours and hours of slackadaisical repose… unless… a venture lays before me in the near future that requires a steady simmering build-up of energy.

I met a guy my age – Cary – at the gym the other day, he said… 10 years ago, I ran 10 kilometres in about 42 minutes.

I told him that my “younger” man goal had been to run a 40 minute 10k. I came up short by 21 seconds in 1990 and was never able to get my running fitness to that level ever again.

Cary had a pulmonary embolism 7 years ago and now pushes hard to run a 55 minute 10k.

I didn’t have a pulmonary embolus and I have to run hard now to make a 55 minute 10k.

Training for those runs as a young guy was stimulating … and also came with a modicum of pain. But back then, my mental stamina was strong and pushing hard through the pain was a price I happily paid to myself to compensate for the payoff of attaining my goals.

The training needed to run a 10k in 55 minutes or a half marathon in 2 hours now leaves me with about the same physical pain I experienced in 1990 with 40 minute 10k’s and 1.5 hour half marathons.

tough mudder

What has changed for me, above and beyond the natural aging process, is my mental strength. I can’t crush the gas pedal the way I once did.

Like a cascading river washing over rocks for centuries and millennia, the smoothing and wearing down over time has worked the same process on my mental stamina and grit.

The mere act of physically pushing over decades has polished down the keen edge of mental competitive spirit that once filled my head and body.

It’s kind of funny to me because the mental edge of sharpness that was present for running (and swimming and cycling) has more recently transferred – transformed – into an eager mental edge for improvement on the musical side of my character.

Today, I’m willing and passion-filled to push myself to refine and enhance my guitar skills – skills where I tended towards laziness in years’ past.

Do you find something similar happening to you in the areas of your world where you embrace an enthusiasm and zest – are you too morphing from the ardour of one facet of your life and experiencing a surge in another?

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same…

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange

David Bowie

I’ve changed … I’m always changing but …

I still love pushing myself and feeling a bit of muscular pain in the morning.

I still love crossing the finish line of a running race.

I still love the rush of endorphins when I strum the last chord of a song and I hear the whoops of the audience that felt a tiny river of joy … or memory … or love … that my song gave them.

The carousel that sometimes gives us pain may also leave a beautiful aftertaste of pleasure in its wake.

* with thanks to Margot H for the blog title.

carousel.jpg

 

 

This Pilgrim’s Progress: Young… or… Old?

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Summerland snow

It was like receiving a belated birthday wish from a long-time friend.

The wait lasted until December 26 – Boxing Day in Canada – for the first cotton snowflakes to drift and plump and fluff and find their way through the skies to perch on the impatient evergreens here in Summerland.

For a few weeks now I’ve been peering out my window over to the frosted eastern hillsides of Okanagan Lake, breathing in the visual white line of demarcation halfway up the slope, knowing that snow was out there somewhere, just not where I could touch it and roll it up into little snowmen and snowladies and snow non-binary specific people.

This same story plays out most years, although usually about a month earlier than this trip around the sun.

It’s gone on for so long now that I’m thinking about aging and getting old.

I find myself joking around a lot, telling people the reason I don’t remember this, or don’t do that, is cuz I’m OLD!

But am I? I’m not really sure….

Is old wearing reading glasses? Is old forgetting where I put my reading glasses? Is old passing more gas than I used to? Is old eating dinner at 5 o’clock and falling asleep by 10?  Is old slowing down or speeding up (philanthropist David Rubenstein urges us “to accelerate” as we entered the last chapters of our lives.) Is old when I can’t run a 10 minute mile anymore? Is old when I stop being interested in new information and experiences? Is old when I stop jumping from airplanes and swimming across lakes? Is old when I start to talk about the good ole days?

Is old now… or always coming tomorrow or tomorrow after that?

old and young tom hanks

Sergei Scherbov, lead researcher of a multiyear study on aging, in answer to the
question, When does old begin?, says for Americans, it’s roughly 70 to 71 for men and 73 to 74 for women, though, as he has written, “your true age is not just the number of years you have lived.”

It’s intrigued me because a while back when I asked my Syrian student-friend how old his parents – refugees that have just been resettled in England – were, he said…

… oh, they’re old, both my father and mother are 55.

What!?

He was dead serious.

I paused, thought wistfully for a moment, smiled, and then reminded him that I was 61.

He grinned back at me sheepishly, and replied earnestly, yes, but 55 is old when you live in Syria… 61 is not old when you live in Canada.

According to a 2017 study by U.S. Trust, Millennials, now in their 20s and 30s, say that old starts at 59. Gen Xers, now in their 40s — and no doubt with a new appreciation for just how close they are to entering their 50s — say 65 is the onset of old. Boomers and older pegged 73 as the beginning of old.

I knew I was pretty much on the start of the pathway to “old” when a younger person first called me “Sir”. Who you talking to?

If I asked every single one of you that reads this, “what is old?“, I’d get a different answer from each of you. Old has a different meaning, a unique connotation, in our minds.

For me, the feeling of excitement, of inspiration that runs through my days is the biggest indicator of age, young and old.

Writing these blogs, playing guitar, writing music and singing make me feel young. Apart from the bastard mirror that lies when it shows me my face, I can almost believe that I’m 19. I still run and bike and ski, I read and learn, I travel and cook, I vacuum and wash dishes. I drive without leaving my left signal flashing for 10 minutes.

But I run more slowly. My eyes glaze over after reading but a chapter or two. I sleep in hotels instead of hostels or tents. I forget things my kids did when they were 8 years old. I forget things I did last weekend!

Cancer and heart disease drifts like a lazy river through my family. My get-up-and-go attitude could slip away with a single CT scan, car crash, or unstuck plaque in my arteries.

It’s possible that I may be only a hobbling step or two away from jumping the fence to old.

Poke me with a fork, I’m almost done! Maybe…

All the more reason to pick up the pace now. Accelerate!

May the chapter entitled 2019 that YOU write in your life book be one of not merely seizure… but seized challenges, opportunities, and maybe even acceleration.

Now, if you could just tell me where my reading glasses are?

 

The Muppets and No Country For Old Men

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Dear Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley:

We regret to inform you that The Muppets still have no openings to replace Statler and Waldorf in the balcony cheap seats. We would kindly recommend you return to your local Mayberry coffee shop and continue your enlightened pontifications of why women just don’t suck up to the good ole boys like they did in the ’50’s.

Sincerely, TROTTFCW (The Rest Of The Twenty-First Century World)

Did you know that the state of Vermont has never sent a woman to the U.S. House or Senate? … never ever in 242 years…

DANG! I really want to write light, fluffy pieces about music and books and movies and Halloween and all the great stuff that inhabits my world. I want to laugh and kibitz with you like we’re young children in the schoolyard of our dreams. Blue skies, shining on me… nothing but blue skies, do I see….

But the current affairs’ bus just keeps careening off the US Interstate Highway and I can’t look away.

I feel like a victim even though I play for the side of the victimizers. Yeah, I know that’s a bit like Melania saying SHE’S the MOST bullied person out there… BOO HOO!

melania bullied

What the hell am I talking about?

Baseball of life.

I have 3 strikes against me and there’s nothing I can do to change it (short of surgery and hormone therapy).

  1. I’m a Man.
  2. I’m White.
  3. I’m Old(er)!

AGAIN. BOO HOO!

I sort of belong to the same club as McConnell and Grassley and Trump and it scares the hell out of me. I have to fight back against my privilege.

You see, I watched some of the U.S. Senate hearings a month back where another white man – angry, juvenile’ish Brett Kavanaugh – sat in the hot seat and told me how much he and his buddy PJ enjoy(s)ed beer.

Add that to the sight of a murder of old, white codgers sneering angrily, contemptuously, at a woman who has a boatload more credibility than any of those interviewing her and…

It made me ill. I’m one of them…. and….

These relics aren’t learning and changing. They’ve dug themselves in and are hanging on by their richly manicured fingernails… and…

I felt a whole lot of disgust and animus.

I love the differences that delineate men from women, white from black, Christian from Muslim from Jew, old from young, gay from straight.

But different should never imply better or superior.

I’m a product of my culture and generation, as are you.

There is hardly anything in life that is not changing… rapidly.

Some changes we like, many others create fear and anxiety.

We all have to do our best to grow and change and wonder and debate those changes, morphing and putting ourselves in the shoes of the “other”. It’s called understanding.

Because I belong to that clique of “old, white men”, it is ever more important that I stay attuned and sensitive.

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Almost daily, I have to assess and determine those areas of humankind that are basic and unchanging, and those that are elastic and variable.

I’m learning to change as the circumstances make sense.

Here are just a few of the things I recognize now and changes I’ve adapted to in my years.

  1. Sexuality and the nature of manhood/womanhood are less distinct than I ever realized or accepted. There is a flow in the world of sexual preference, gender fluidity and spectrum. Love is Love. Gay marriage, Interracial marriage, Sex outside of marriage. I accept various forms of sexuality and gender now that I could never have fathomed as a young boy and man.
  2. I can’t blindly use derogatory terms as I did in my youth. It’s embarrassing to think of the ignorant words I used to describe others: Nigger (we ate licorice nigger babies from the corner store); Jew (“too expensive, we’ll jew them down”); Newfie (Newfoundlander) jokes; Dumb Blonde jokes; Pollock (Polish) jokes; Paki (Pakistani/Indian) jokes; Wop (Italian) jokes… on and on it went without any thought of the hurt it might cause.
  3. Tattoos and piercings are not only for sailors and Hell’s Angels. Not a fan but I quietly accept.
  4. Circumcision isn’t a given. A penile toque is kinda cute (I hear!). Female circumcision is plain nutso.
  5. Women as leaders. The safety and security of our world would be stronger in the hands of women. Pollution measures would be more robust.
  6. Technology is the driving force behind everything we do. One small example? Elections have changed immensely with social media alone.
  7. Animals are deserving of life and kindness. I do not have dominion over all creatures.
  8. Bullying is just not acceptable. ‘nuff said.
  9. Mental health should be treated as seriously and openly as we treat physical health. Too many folks suffer needlessly because of our fears and stigmas.
  10. The things I do and consume, contribute to global warming and have a negative impact. The sad thing is as I age my methane production goes up, what’s a concerned boy to do?

The leaves on all the tall birch trees outside my house have turned yellow and most of the leaves have flittered like gossamer feathers to the earth. Yes, change is as perennial as the seasons.

The unearned privilege of being an old(er!) Canadian white guy weighs on me when I see the struggles of others who did nothing to deserve their plight.

I’m trying my hardest to avoid looking in the mirror and seeing McConnell or Grassley as my reflection.

I’m hoping that I’ll soon find my way back to writing light, fluffy posts that might make me smile like Kermit or Miss Piggy and not frown like Statler and Waldorf.

As for a woman finally being elected to the Senate for Vermont this year? Fat chance… there’s some old white guy named Bernie Sanders standing in the middle of the road.

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I Can’t… But I Can… 

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I’m not Pollyanna.

There are some things I can do.

There are some things I can’t do.

There are some things I don’t wanna do.

There are some things I shouldn’t do.

I’ve had some fun. But was it worth it?

I was handcuffed once and taken into custody. Twice actually. By the RCMP, not a BDSM lover.

It’s a long story I may tell you one day, but it was worth it.

YK Handcuffed  2

The morning following my 21st birthday, I gin-vomited my way from room to room around Stanton Yellowknife Hospital while doing my rounds collecting blood samples for lab testing.

I shouldn’t have done it but was the fun of the night before worth it? Yeah, it was!

She made me feel good, until she didn’t. I broke up with a nice girl, a girl who liked me a lot, merely because she cut off my oxygen supply with her tongue while we were kissing.

I selfishly let her become too attached just so I had a girlfriend. I still feel badly. It wasn’t worth it.

I smoke cigars. Occasionally. I love the musky scent and the feeling of relaxation it imparts.

Short-term it feels worth it. Long-term? Maybe not.

I’ve invested in companies – relying on others’ advice –  without doing my own intense research to see if they were great investments for long-term wealth.

I’ve almost always lost money when I got lazy and let someone else make my decisions for me. Definitely not worth it.

LARRY SPEC CARRIER TIFF

Relying on others’ investment advice at 10 years of age!

I’ve gossiped behind the backs of people I considered friends, saying nasty caustic stuff.

Never worth it. ’nuff said.

………………..

Do. Or do not. There is no try.”    

Yoda.

Actually Yoda, there is a try. There should always be a try. A try with conviction and curiosity and wonder.

A lovely friend across the globe has been recently diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

She’s accepting of her fate, acknowledging the role of long-term smoking, while appreciating the wonderful opportunities she’s had. There’s a contented resignation to the approaching darkness at the end of the tunnel.

Whenever we hear of someone whose existence has just ended or is nearing their end, we internalize and meditate on our own lives and silently wonder if we should be happy with where our lives have taken us. It’s natural and human.

I know I think about the things I’ve done, the things I’ve not done, and those things I can’t do.

My solution? The voice goes a bit like this… “I can’t do ‘x’ anymore” But on the other hand, “I can do ‘y’!“.

I can try.

We can all try.

If you have an accident or illness and sever a leg and you’re an avid runner, then you know you can’t run anymore (or maybe you can, look at Terry Fox)… but you can still exercise your body with swimming or weight training or wheelchair athletics. Thousands have. Witness the Invictus Games.

To try is to hope. We all need hope. Hope is purpose.

Today, I’m reflecting on the stuff I could do in my earlier years but maybe I have difficulty with now.

Sometimes it’s a physical issue, but often it’s a mind issue.

My “Yoda-try” response is to substitute something else I can do now that maybe I didn’t or couldn’t do back then. I try.

Here, let me give you a few examples:

I can’t run a 10k race anywhere close to the 40 minute pace I could manage 25 years ago.

But I can run a half decent half-marathon once or twice a year. It’s slow, but damned pleasing to cross that finish line knowing that my body has been an active friend for 2 hours

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I can’t become a fabulously famous rock/folk/country performer.

But I can sing with a larger range and more emotional depth and connection than I could in my teens and 20’s. Bigger still is the sense of confidence in writing and performing that increases along with the age on my birth certificate. 

I can’t discipline myself sufficiently to write an entire novel.

But I can find the discipline to write and share a thousand words with you here every week. Acknowledging and understanding my strengths and limitations is deeply satisfying.

I can’t make a beautiful flaky pie crust worth a damn.

But I can cook up a pretty impressive assortment of ethnic foods that I’ve learned from home cooks and cooking classes around the world. I’ll just appreciate the amazing pie crusts that others have the skills to execute.

I can’t sleep on the hard ground on a farmer’s field like I did in the English countryside in my early 20’s.

But I can hold out a credit card with my name on it and sleep in an incredibly comfortable cozy bed in a fancy hotel or resort in Canada or pretty much anywhere in the world. Age and saved/invested wealth bestow some pretty incredible benefits. 

I can’t ever have a high-powered corporate career with the all the bells and whistles and stimulating highs and crushing lows. 

But I can take on little “careers” like making and serving soup, bartending, tutoring and making music where money making isn’t the primary goal. There are tiny pots of gold at the end of many mini-rainbows.

I can’t stay up til midnight or 2 am partying with high alcoholic energy.

But I can get to sleep at 10 pm and not wake up with ringing ears and pounding temples the next day. A clear head is a magical gift.

OK, maybe I am Pollyanna.

‘Fun’ and ‘Can’ and ‘Can’t’ come in very different packages for each of us. Ain’t individualism great?

But to try is the same package for us all.

To try is hopeful.

To try is courageous.

Nietzsche said: “No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life…”

Maybe Nietzsche knew something even more profound than that weird little green Yoda.

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