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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….

Checking Your NAVEL in COVID Times…

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navel gazing

I’m cycling… no, not on my bike, although I have been doing a fair bit of that lately too!

Nope, it’s my focus that’s cycling. Up, up, up … and then a little down…

Remember St. Patrick’s Day almost 5 months ago?

I do. And not only for the 6 glasses of green beer I quaffed (which truly I CAN’T remember).

On March 17, my wife and I were volunteering at our local Trout Creek Elementary School, popping dishes into the small kitchen’s dishwasher after the once weekly school lunch.

Hot dogs and fruit smoothies, it was an easy clean-up. Fun.

You wouldn’t want to see the mess made when the lunch menu had the angel-faced Kindergarten to Grade 5 kids getting mixed up with spaghetti and its mucky blood-red sauce and Parmesan cheese. Those are Freddie Kruger movie days.

On March 17, we could see dark, infectious clouds forming. Change – like virus particles – was in the air.

Things were beginning to grow more intense on the Coronavirus front and speculation was growing about what might happen after the upcoming 2 week Spring Break.

We were in the very early stages of not hugging or shaking hands with others. When we said goodbye to anyone, it was happening awkwardly at a distance with an embarrassed, somewhat bemused “what the hell are we doing?” look on our faces.

not shaking hands

The school Principal’s voice erupted over the loudspeakers, “We hope we’ll see you all in 2 weeks kids, but it could be longer. Stay safe.”

Nailed that one.

On March 17, face masks were something worn for sterility purposes by medical personnel in hospitals and by a few East Asians concerned about “germs” in general.

It felt like the door was opening to a Twilight Zone episode written years ago by Don McLean who penned the song “American Pie” and the iconic words, the day the music died.

  • I stopped washing school dishes on March 17, 2020.
  • I stopped actively investing on March 17.
  • I stopped chopping vegetables at the soup kitchen on March 17.
  • I stopped visiting the college to tutor a young man in nearby Penticton on March 17.
  • I stopped eating movie theatre popcorn on March 17.
  • I stopped eating in restaurants on March 17.
  • I stopped shipping wine from my little “retirement” job on March 17.
  • I stopped using my own reusable bags at the supermarket on March 17.
  • I stopped waiting for my Hamilton Tiger Cat football team to fire up training camp after March 17.
  • I stopped visiting and playing music at Open Mics on March 17.
  • I stopped babysitting my energetic grandson one day a week on March 17.
  • I stopped attending boot camp, yoga classes, and the swimming pool on March 17.

Noticing a trend? Does it sound exactly like your life except for the specifics?

Anything and everything tilted on March 17.

world tilted

The precise date might be slightly different in your world but otherwise… sameness. Everywhere in the world. India, Peru, Egypt, France, Australia… all the same.

Normal became… disinfectant flowing like flood waters… masks more widespread than at Halloween… line-ups outside of stores (those that were open)… health questionnaires and temperature checks… distancing “dots” on store floors. Dystopia days…

Yes, lots of things stopped on March 17th.

But… March 17 was also the day something fired up again … my focus.

On March 17, I found my “navel” and it was good.

I had been so involved in floating downstream when I really needed to paddle upstream against the current.

Songwriting. For some years I had been internally lamenting that I just couldn’t make myself focus on the arduous, but ultimately rewarding task of songwriting. I wanted to, I longed to… but a million other little things interjected time after time.

Yes, I found my focus.

The modern cycle of busyness was slowed by the virus and almost came to a stop. Routines changed. Rush and diversion backed away like sheep from ravenous wolves.

My mind and and body settled and relaxed. It was almost like full-time yoga.

This new-found focus had me adjusting my blog posts so that I wrote song lyrics every 3rd week.

I zeroed in on lyrics and melodies and harmonies and guitar licks as if I was back in my old laboratory job. I concentrated for hours in the way I used to sit in dark rooms searching for tiny, fluorescent Chlamydia antigens under the microscope (and never broke my oath of confidentiality on any of you!)

The near-stoppage of time because of this nasty virus cloud gave me permission to concentrate deeply, to focus.

Things were clicking and the work was paying off. I started and completed maybe 6 or 7 songs over these past 5 months. A groove, a muse, nestled in and it didn’t feel as hard as it had for many years. It was exhilarating.

And then… gradually in the last month or so… I sensed a creeping slippage.

Former “normals” were filtering back….

  • My little job of shipping wine fired up once more as wine sippage continued enthusiastically in homes, then restarted in reduced-seat restaurants.
  • Lineups dissipated and I toted my reusable bags to the grocery store again and paid the tab across a plexiglass shield.
  • I sweated profusely to Boot Camp videos on YouTube.
  • I (with my wife’s tutelage and patience) looked after my little grandson weekly.
  • Although my physical attendance at the college for tutoring stopped, my student and I have continued uninterrupted with online learning sessions.

Bit-by-little-bit, despite this novel virus not taking a holiday, most of us, myself included, have begun to take tentative steps back to the world of “before”.

And now, I only hope I haven’t fallen off my new cycle.

Sure, we’re not the same people we were before March 17. We don’t measure our days in the same way.

We’ve adapted, lamented, adjusted, fumed … and maybe, just maybe…

… we’ve re-discovered some tiny store of focus for one or two of the things we’ve been waiting to delve into for so long…  those navel gazing wonders that pump up our spirits and enthusiasm.

………………………………..

PS As a sign of my diminished focus, I have a backlog of song lyrics that still need their musical component to make it to the finish line.

Therefore… no song lyrics this week as has been my practice lately. But, on the positive side of things, I have been working away on my guitar “Travis picking”. Travis picking (named for Merle Travis) involves picking an underlying bass line on the lower guitar strings while simultaneously carving out a melody part on the higher strings. Below is a sampling of a song I recently recorded called Foxglove, written by guitar guru Bruce Cockburn in the 1970’s. Hope you enjoy.