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Holding Back The Death Of A GrandMinstrel…

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By a number of measures, I should be dead.

I drove my 1967 Rambler American more than a dozen times while numbingly inebriated before I turned 19. The lights of Main Street were lit, and so was I.

Terrible choice, absolutely, but also – poor excuse aside – common in that era.

On more than one occasion I recall thinking to myself after arriving safely back home late at night…

… shit, I don’t remember that drive.

I wouldn’t describe it as a blackout but more a trance-like state, as if someone else had taken control of the steering wheel and magically transported me home while I hazily observed. Gage Park wobbled back and forth in my heavy eyes as I passed by…

I could have killed myself, or even more tragically, some innocent pedestrian or decent steelworker making his journey home to his family upon finishing an afternoon shift at Dofasco (my boyhood hometown Hamilton, Ontario is a well-known steel-making city).

At other times, I’ve foolishly wandered down dark alleys in seedy areas of cities (eg. Hamburg, Germany, or Granada, Nicaragua) where you could reasonably expect a grisly murder to occur… or gone home with total strangers that I know I shouldn’t have but was too polite to say “NO THANKS” (it’s that damned Canadian politeness factor)!

I’ve scuba-dived down deep… jumped from an airplane at 10,000 feet (yes, WITH a parachute attached, I’m not a TOTAL idiot!).

Minor and major life-threatening events occur to each of us throughout our days and come at us from different angles… some we anxiously avoid and some we dive into wholeheartedly.

BUT… still…

I fear death… do you?

I fear it more intensely now than when I was younger and even more witless.

Why? The fear isn’t so much about a lack of courage (although I would easily win the part of the Lion in The Wizard of Oz!) I’ve decided that it comes down to a big three for me… CURIOSITYFOMO (Fear of Missing Out) … and AMBITION.

I begrudge you death…

CURIOSITY?

Despite all the daily worries and problems out there in the big world, and certainly not for everyone, but… to me, the time in which we live is a Golden Age.

And the mountain of gold is growing bigger still.

In my murky crystal ball I foresee huge peaks of future excitement.

Technology has increasingly enlivened my days with each passing year, and the wonders of new ways of doing things, communicating, travelling, learning, and relating to the world around me.

I’m flabbergasted and invigorated with enthusiasm for what is still to come. It makes me giddy… and I don’t want to miss a thing even if I don’t understand it all. Humanity’s creativity has generated some crazy and amazing stuff.

Masters and those who display a high level of creative energy are simply people who manage to retain a sizable portion of their childhood spirit despite the pressures and demands of adulthood.”   Robert Greene, author

Which brings me to…

FOMO?

Add to this curiosity my relatively new (3 years) experiment as a grandfather, and again, I don’t want to miss out on seeing all the potential and wonder of who and what becomes of my young successors.

There’s a heightened level of pride that seems to skip a generation where it comes to grandchildren: perhaps there’s less intense pressure as a grandparent to micro-manage the little ones’ day-to-day direction that frees us to see the beauty and marvel of a developing new life.

What a loss it would, and will be, to miss these million milestones …

AMBITION?

This is tied part and parcel into this compulsion I have for goal-setting that I’ve mentioned here on numerous occasions.

Guitar skills, songwriting, new cooking artistry, language learning, running targets… goals towards anything that gets my heart racing for all the positive reasons related to the marvels of endorphins.

I’m a minstrel at heart who pines to become a better minstrel… and becoming better at anything – as Malcolm Gladwell will happily tell you- requires time and HOURS of practice.

I need time because… Death has a way of cutting short practice time…

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”   E.E. Kenyon, 1953

The thing is, life is short and precarious. Much of our success in living another day is as much luck as anything else.

To attain old age is akin to the way the late Bob Ross painted his quiet little masterpieces, all… “happy little accidents“…

In a breath this grandminstrel (ie. me) will be dust in the wind, a universal nomad… no matter my curiosity, FOMO or ambition… it’s preordained…

The bottom line just has to be Carpe Diem... wash your hands, eat your vegetables, live your life in high-definition, bravely, fully and well…

Let me know if you have a fear of dying, and if so, why.

PS You can put your mind at ease… I haven’t driven under the influence in many…. decades!

PPS Just one more reason to live a long time… I want to wear these clothes that are smarter than me!

Back To The Future aka The Way We Were…

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I’m guilty and so are you… probably…

Every generation, at least in the past 100+ years thinks…

… that’s there’s something hugely wrong about the next generation.

They’re irresponsible or lazy or inappropriate or ill-mannered or off-base.

It’s your kids, Marty! Something’s gotta be done about your kids!”

Doc Brown, Back To The Future

……..

Yup, just plunk yourself down at a table in a bar or a coffee-shop (when it’s COVID-allowed) and listen to the vintage-gangs of older men or grey-haired women… catch the greasy wafts of Brylcreem and Oil of Olay mixed with caffeine and righteousness...

John will gruffly complain about the government and how they coddle the unemployed or the youth, “we worked hard for everything in our day, there were no handouts.”, he’ll say.

Susan will lament about how the new Mom’s are slack and overly-attentive to their children’s every scrape or bruise, “it’s like the sacred kids can’t breathe without their mother’s phone camera catching every blessed inhale.”

So, are they right?

All of us have a fixed point of reference in our lives, and that point begins the moment we cry out and inhale our very first breath.

Everything that is “normal” in the world is what happens after our “birth”day and in our first few years.

The normal world isn’t what occurred 100 years ago or 100 years from now… it’s what we see and hear with our own eyes in our early years.

Case in point: The house where you grew up probably didn’t exist 100 years before you were born, but to you … that house is what is NORMAL, not the forest of trees that lived there for hundreds of years before.

Before and after that, it’s just a cluster-fuck… all aberrant and crazy.

Think about it and reflect a bit… every school, every job, every value and every technology that rolls out is compared to what we’ve personally experienced through our life: our own formative days and years.

I’m convinced all the old crotchety people *which might mean ME* we encounter are viewing the world through this jaundiced lens… which is why we so often hear the elder generation say… “it’s not like it was when I was growing up“.

And they’re right… it’s not.

Countless things have changed and will keep on changing.

Our existence – like a rose’s bloom – is in constant flux.

Generations back, fathers and sons shared the same “worldview” from generation to generation knowing that they were farmers today and farmers tomorrow… mothers and daughters knew that they were housekeepers and child-raisers for all their days.

But the Industrial Revolution followed by the Information Revolution came along and the wheels kept spinning faster and faster. Farmers became accountants and assembly line workers, housewives evolved into lawyers and engineers.

Parents grudgingly adjusted to the new reality while hoping this revolutionary change would stop with them.

But it never did. And their kids pushed the envelope and kept “remodelling and retooling”. They loved Elvis and Marilyn Manson, not Bach or Benny Goodman.

To your parents and grandparents, you became the one that was leading a ridiculously misguided life.

Time passed, and one day you perhaps became a parent yourself. And the wheels of change kept on rolling, rolling, rolling.

Today, every child is bombarded by hundreds of TV shows on a dozen platforms, thousands of websites, daily changes to software and apps that they use in every waking moment.

Kids’ Moms and Dads both work outside the home and tread life’s water as fast as they can with outdated tools that were given them 10, 20, or 30 years back.

They paddle hard but they’re helpless against the flood coming at them.

These same kids too will find themselves snowed under one day in the near future and recount to their own kids about how life was simpler and more sensible in their day.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with each successive generation… different, yes, but not wrong…

The way we were isn’t the way we are… nope…

We are living in a Back To The Future world… good golly Miss Molly… Marty McFly is… US!

PS Random thought from the blog post of INVERSE:

Riddle me this: Both of these organs guard their contents closely, appear wrinkly on the outside, and can determine the course of an individual life. What are they?

We’re talking about the brain and the testicles.

Human male testes and brains create more than 13,000 of the same proteins, more than any other tissues in the body, and partially control what makes humans unique.

So don’t laugh when men think from below the waist… it’s a part of our smart DNA….