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The Torture of Your Choices

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We’re a mystery to ourselves…

🎶nu nu nu nu🎶… your next stop is…

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What cup of coffee or tea do you prefer?

Starbucks?… Tim Hortons?… Costa Coffee’s?… your own?…

Decaf? Oat milk? Hazelnut shot? Cold Brew? Green or black tea?

Frappuccino? Acai? Hibiscus? Mocha? Guava? Passion fruit?

OMG, caffeine-waterboarding… it’s torture! Choices and more choices… everyone’s different, yes?

And still more choices… when you read my posts.

I understand that you reading this is a privilege for me because you have the choice.

That you vote to take a few minutes away from 100 other things you could do or read or watch is humbling. It’s the nature of our 21st century multi-choice universe that the option to flip past me is the easiest thing ever.

What makes me so special to deserve your eyeballs? I’m not John Krasinski handsome or Malcolm Gladwell insightful.

After 9 years of writing these weekly missives, I know that readers come and readers go, and a brave (or foolish!!) small number of you have stayed with me from Day One… I thank you.

But honestly, as much as I appreciate you, I don’t write for you as my #1 motivation. I’ll tell you what is in a minute…

This is fortunate because I don’t earn a living – hell, even a pittance… sniff… not even a penny – from my weekly word count.

Of course I peruse the number of views I have on my posts each week and from which country you originate (that’s it… I don’t get your name or city, just your country)…

…the social part of me, like Sally Field (YOU love me!), loves the recognition that you read my words, or make a comment, or click a LIKE.

But I don’t obsess over or tailor my words to suit any individual or group.

Now I do sometimes read my posts as if I’m “possessed” by one of you (will I channel YOU this week?). I put myself in your shoes and try to interpret what I’m saying through YOUR filter (or what I perceive as your filter).

I like to present and challenge ideas without offending – there’s space for us all.

I accept that each of us sees the world in a slightly different way. However, I will choose reason and scientific fact over rumour or rhetoric where facts exist.

Emotion and opinion have their place too, but they should be secondary to fact. The internet has hugely challenged our ability to think rationally with roiling oceans of pseudo-truths (alternative facts).

Back to me navel-gazing…

Motivation #1 for this blog?

My thinking and personal understanding happens when I write… I access ME when I put words to paper, or screen, or song.

Really… I’m ultra-clumsy in interpersonal verbal interactions… I fumble and stumble and say inappropriate things that I would never do or say if I had a minute or an hour to think and reflect. Fortunately this “woke” dude has learned to NEVER ask a woman when she is “due”.

I also try NOT to be inspired by the misogynistic male judge (John Michael Higgins) from the movie Pitch Perfect commenting on the female singers: This does not look like the fresh-faced nubile Bellas that we have come to know. Is it me, or are those skirts just not working anymore?

I know many others who can think faster than a blink of the eye, who explore their inner thoughts and opinions while speaking… their brain functions best through the spoken word. I am in awe of the fast thinkers of the world.

I’m a slow thinker. Whatever “intelligence” I possess happens while I write… I find my insights and perceptions while writing my blog posts, and in my personal e-mails, and in my songwriting.

I’m constantly shovelling/writing to delve further inside myself looking for understanding – of myself and of the world around me. In that moment I’m Stephen King with magic powers.

This intelligence typically takes me 500 or 1,000 words to surface… anything less and my head is spinning like I just got off a fast Merry-Go-Round ie. no substance or understanding…

A miniskirt-short blog post is like a Twitter post…

Jerry Seinfeld says: “Twitter is good. Why say a lot to a few people when you can say virtually nothing to everyone?”

… but more than 1,000 words in my post and it’s just VD (verbal diarrhea). Maybe that’s one thing I learned from Hemingway’s brevity.

Back to Seinfeld… he’s my philosopher of the week… for some obvious reasons I can’t use Bill Gates for awhile now.

Seinfeld observes that people who are comedians work at understanding themselves, while actors observe people in order to play different characters.

I would add to this that poets and songwriters also look inside for understanding of themselves and the cosmos. Do you see yourself in any of these roles?

So, this week’s “Larry Wisdom”?

If, at some time, you feel introspective, “choose” a cup of your favourite espresso or oolong and think about your best route to “finding” the you that lies deep beneath the surface. It might be your best Twilight Zone experience ever.

One last Seinfeldian observation of this crazy world to ponder:

If aliens are watching us through telescopes, they’re going to think the dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?”

The Day My Dad Was Sick And I Began My Journey to Wisdom

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father son

My Dad and I were never close.

Nope, not even close to close.

We were acquaintances who happened to live under the same roof for 16 years. Ghosts treading the same floors in different dimensions.

I’ve spent many years feeling bitterness and resentment towards the man who housed, fed and clothed me.

There was no abuse … sure, the occasional routine spanking – it was still the era of spare the rod and spoil the child – no, my beef with my father was benign neglect.

He never joined in with my mother at my school events, attended my hockey games, or helped with delivering my newspapers when the snow was deep the way Mom did. He never helped with my homework or joined me in making little plastic car and airplane models, never threw a baseball my way. He didn’t teach me how to drive or tell me that one day I’d have to shave hair from the edges of my ears (really?!?).

I think that many of us harbour some ill feelings towards at least one of our parents.

It’s pretty amazing that these childhood feelings can linger for decades afterwards, which perhaps helps me understand why we prosecute war criminals and sexual predators (yes, YOU Harvey W.) many years after the acts occurred. The hurts stick to you like flypaper.

In the early winter of 1974 I was on a French class school trip to Quebec City … what joyous fun and freedom it was for a 16 year old to share a hotel room with two buddies in a “foreign” city…

… to experience the Quebec Winter Carnival, taste the frozen maple taffy, cavort with Bonhomme Carnaval, eat filet mignon in an historic old restaurant, and sip French wine (yes, underaged!) with classmates from long plastic canes designed to secretly tote alcohol.

And there were girls on the trip! Even more, there were teenage girls in the Quebec streets who spoke… French! Oh Mon Dieu…

Bonhomme carnaval

Then the phone rang in my hotel room and the fun ended all too soon.

Only a few months after my Mom’s unexpected death, my Dad had been diagnosed with acute leukemia and was being aggressively treated in hospital with nasty chemo chemicals to combat the blood cancer. There were yeast sores all through his mouth and he could barely drink. The chemotherapy designed to save him was brutal and life threatening all on its own.

The voice on the phone said that he was dwindling – quickly – and I should perhaps book a train ticket and return home ASAP if I wanted to say a final goodbye.

I “bravely-in-a-boys-don’t-cry-sort-of-way” held back any tears and began packing and lamenting the end of my teenage frolic en francais.

Shortly after I received another phone call… Larry, don’t worry, he probably isn’t as bad as we first thought, he should survive the next couple of days. Stay there and enjoy your time in Quebec.

Right.

Turns out my Dad survived the chemo (and leukemia) and lived another reasonably healthy 7 years.

And you might think that we became close (or closer) as a result of his illness and the near-death experience, but we didn’t. The big chill remained. The Hollywood happy ending never occurred in real life.

But. Over many years I’ve let the bitter taste dissipate. Melt and absorb back into the universe. It becomes so dilute that it can’t do any harm anymore.

I’m not perfect. I’ve realized that I’m a product of my upbringing and environment and so was my Dad. In his shoes: with his parents, school, and life experiences, would I be any different? I don’t know.

My Dad wasn’t a bad guy. In many ways, he was a good fellow, just not a good Dad to me.

I will never totally understand the man he was, but I understand now through my own life history how a life is molded and shaped … how diamond is often imperfectly formed over time from coal through heat and pressure.

You might say I’ve grown a tiny bit … which is really a synonym for older and … wait for it …

WISE?

WISDOM?

Maybe?

buddha

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