Home

It’s Been A Pretty Fine Dream Life

1 Comment

Daydreaming is better than Daydrinking.

When I was 10 I wanted to be a doctor.

A rich doctor.

Don’t believe me? Here I’ll prove it to you.

LARRY SPEC CARRIER TIFF

When I was 20…

I wanted to be a singer/songwriter star. Maybe a Cat Stevens wannabe… again, let me show you.

When I was 30…

I wanted to be a blueberry and sheep farmer.

When I was 40…

I wanted to own a BunsMaster bakery franchise.

When I was 50…

I wanted to be an Entrepreneur that helped older folks write their memoirs for their kids and grandkids.

When I was 60 (now)…

I still harbour songwriting and rock star fantasies like when I was 20. Some of us never grow up, right Peter Pan?

Version 2

None of those fanciful dreams were ever totally fulfilled.

No doctor… no bakery… no sheep… no Groupies.

A lab tech… some cinnamon buns… a few chickens… and Open Mic’s.

Am I disappointed? Nope…

My happiness and success aren’t measured by the end result as much as the process.

A life of failure? Nope…

It relates to Robert Louis Stevenson’s quote:

To Travel Hopefully Is A Better Thing Than To Arrive”

Wants and dreams are the summer clouds that shift and re-shape in the sky when we lay on our backs in the cool, soft grass. One moment there’s a T-Rex, the next a leaping horse.

What’s wrong with chasing after dreams from cradle to coffin?

I’m very aware that life is finite.

Yes, Santa Claus is actually Mommy and Daddy, and yes, life ends… I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble…

Damn Adam and Eve screwed us and immortality all over one silly apple. Snakes.

Philip Roth, the famous, and infamously cranky American writer (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain) who died this past week said about death:

“Oblivion. Of not being alive, quite simply, of not feeling life, not smelling it. But the difference between today and the fear of dying I had when I was 12, is that now I have a kind of resignation towards reality.

Reality.

The idea that I’ll melt away into some bone meal fertilizer relatively soon is both scary and motivating.

Scary, well there’s nothing I can do about that… you know, Desiderata’s accept what you cannot change.

Psycho.jpg

But motivating, now there’s something I can participate in.

Reinvention and creativity and self-discovery are themes I come back to again and again in my blog posts because I need to remind myself ad infinitum that life doesn’t end at any particular age.

Signposts like age 65 or retirement are made-up constructs, kind of like legal drinking age. I know the law says no alcohol before 19, but that didn’t stop me and my little buddies from throwing up on homemade red wine beside the elementary school at 13!

I’m gobsmacked when I read of the young age of passing in many famous persons who imagined and created wonderful projects in such a short lifespan.

Sylvia Plath, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Gershwin, Martin Luther King, Vincent Van Gogh, Eva Peron, Avicii.

But I’m also energized and stimulated when I see those who created their best in later decades:

12 People who found late success

Staring out my window on this summer’ish sunny morning, a lemon-yellow Swallowtail butterfly lazily rests on a pale pink dogwood bloom, absorbing energy from the sun’s morning warmth before resuming its purpose. I’ve seen this a hundred, maybe a thousand times and it still invigorates my spirit.

These are the quiet moments that recharge my batteries and lower the temperature of the boil that sometimes brings me close to the exhausted edge. It’s like cross-training my muscles so that I don’t get crippled by laser-focusing only on one area until a hurtful flame erupts. Soulful respite.

Life and vigour move along hand-in-hand for as long as our bodies, and more importantly our minds, remain awake and enthusiastic for the passions that burn inside.

This week I’m reminded of mortality since I’m practicing some music pieces like Dust to Dust (The Civil Wars) and Angel (Sarah McLachlan).

It would be possible to feel despair but what I take away is inspiration to continue daydreaming, searching those fluffy cloud formations for ideas and visions.

Do you think it’s too late for me to become a rich doctor?

Rich doctor.jpg

 

 

A Simple Sunny Day Conversation

Leave a comment

… muddled darkness still filled the winter-chilled room when I slid back into my dream …

William Goldman, Nora Ephron and Aaron Sorkin sat in a haze of talkers’ block, frustratingly biting fingernails and pulling hair over a discussion of how… how and why they write their movie screenplays.

Yes…

THE William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men, The Princess Bride),

Yes…

THE Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Julie & Julia) and

Yes…

THE Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network, Molly’s Game).

Three spirited and gifted talents, hardworking Jewish folks, mystically wired to type out brilliant lines of cinematic dialogue that the world slurps up like delicious soup from a beautiful pottery bowl in the sunshine.

…………………..

Butch Cassidy: Do you believe I’m broke already?
Etta Place: Why is there never any money, Butch?
Butch Cassidy: Well, I swear, Etta, I don’t know. I’ve been working like a dog all my life and I can’t get a penny ahead
Etta Place: Sundance says it’s because you’re a soft touch, and always taking expensive vacations, and buying drinks for everyone, and you’re a rotten gambler.
Butch Cassidy: Well that might have something to do with it.
William Goldman

Butch and sundance.jpg

…………………..

Just like in the movies they wrote, the conversation flows like silky sap from maple trees in early spring.
 .

Why do we bother writing if it’ll all just be rain down a drain when we’re gone?’

‘And why am I trying to write lines coming from people who are smarter than me? I don’t think it can be done.’

‘Sure, and why do we make tasty foods to eat when the basic building blocks of healthy life don’t require any flavour, or at least pleasant flavour?’

All so serious.

Nora smiled and sighed loudly. Shaking her head, she tilted up to the royal blue, squinting into the sun beating down on them as they sipped margaritas on Sorkin’s back patio overlooking the resonant Pacific on California’s coast. A slew of gulls squealed and shrieked over the waves.

Guys, this is silly. There is no reason to writing.’

‘There is no reason to life. It just is.’

‘Stop obsessing about why and enjoy the trip, the process.’

You can never have too much butter – that is my belief. If I have a religion, that’s it,‘ she added, not knowing why.

Nora was always so grounded. So sensible. Or maybe it was the tequila-tainted inebriation talking.

But of course, Nora is dead and has access to metaphysical ideas and thought that the rest of us here on earth can’t see yet.

Except dreams.

Dreams allow us that delicious fusion of combining life with death, truth with fiction, oil with water.

…………………..

Sally (on faking orgasms): “Nothing. It’s just that all men are sure it never happened to them and all women at one time or other have done it so you do the math.”

Nora Ephron

Sally Orgasm2.jpg

…………………..

People don’t talk in real life like they do in the movies. That’s the beauty of what we do.’

Real people don’t kidnap couples from the side of the road and boldly declare, “We’re Bonnie and Clyde. We rob banks!” Never been said outside of a movie theatre.’

Yeah or … “You can’t handle the truth! Son we live in a world that has walls, and those have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it, you, you lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury, you have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago’s death while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence while grotesque and incomprehensible, to you, saves lives.” ‘

‘That’s true, we can’t write the boring stuff, but we can take conversations and make them sound alive, believable as if it really happened just the way we wrote it. Audiences want to believe’

Believe, huh? No one believes or cares that we wrote crap for years that no producer or studio would touch.

…………………..

NEWSROOM’s Will McAvoy (to college students proudly calling America the greatest country in the world): “There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.”

Aaron Sorkin

Newsroom .jpg

…………………..

Aaron jumped up and after a slight wobble, arrowed himself back into the house, returning just as quickly with a thick, yellowing manuscript in his hand.

‘Look, I wrote this screenplay for Warren Beatty years ago. It’s called Ocean of Storms. It’s embarrassing. There’s no music in this. It’s totally missing any rhythm. I wish I could write it from scratch all over again.’

‘Shit you guys… I’m dead … Sleepless no more… so listen up while you can.’

Nora leaned forward, scanning the faces of both men. Goldman and Sorkin straightened in their leisure chairs, looking all the part of schoolboys in short pants ready to be chastised by the wise schoolmarm.

‘We all want instant perfection. You want a meaning to writing or life? I’ll give you my secret. Free, keep your dimes in your pockets.’

‘You do what you do well and know that it will never be good enough.’

‘You write and you write and you get a teeny fraction better, maybe not every day but at least every year or every decade. And you capture joy like children’s marbles knowing that your abilities and understanding are tiptoeing up a mountain who’s peak is in the clouds and you’ll never see the peak no matter how high you climb because the little secret is… there is no peak.’

‘All you do is keep making the mountain higher and higher like you’re some Godless one who can build their own mountain. And once in a while you stop climbing and look around at the beautiful scenery below because the higher you climb the more magnificent the view becomes.’

‘We’re all a bunch of Shakespearean fools, or insecure Charlie Brown’s. The climber one day stumbles and falls, but the mountain still stands there for others to ascend and make larger.’

The limey margaritas tingled and settled inside in a soft, mellow pillow…

… my dreamy haze was lifting in early morning light as, in a muted unusual moment, all three, the great dialogue communicators, sat quietly, reflecting on a simple, sunny day conversation.

Sunshine on Pacific.jpg

 

 

 

Do Your Memories Exceed Your Dreams?

2 Comments

Loser2

I’M A LOSER. YUP …

  • I’ve never won a championship in any sport.
  • I’ve never published a bestselling book.
  • I’ve never started a hugely successful business.
  • I’ve never performed lifesaving surgery on a comatose patient.
  • I’ve never designed an art gallery.

Must I continue? A loser, right?

I just do what I love …

I dream about what I love … I hear whispers inside my head.

Just like Walter Mitty, I’m a terrible dreamer!

I wanted to be Bobby Orr, doing spins around my opponents on the hockey rink, scoring highlight goals that defied believability.

I wanted to pull on a Hamilton Tiger Cat football jersey and jump 3 feet high into the air, snatching impossible end zone passes, smashing to the turf in exultation to win the Grey Cup,  then High-5’ing Garney Henley and Angelo Mosca.

I wanted to sit down at the piano and pound out Crocodile Rock and Yellow Brick Road like Elton John, wearing goofy eyeglasses and exotic flared pants, looking out over 15,000 flickering lighters swaying back and forth through the warm summer air.

elton-john

I wanted to sit on a stool under a solitary spotlight at Centre Stage and sing out beautiful songs that made people weep, like James Taylor singing Fire and Rain … or Harry Chapin intoning Cats In The Cradle  … or John Denver singing My Sweet Lady …

I wanted to cross the finish line of a half marathon or an Ironman race, rapturously jubilant with my hands raised high as the 1st place competitor.

 

Larry Ironman 1990

Ironman Canada 1990… 650th place out of 969 competitors …

I’ve never succeeded in truly fulfilling any one of these dreams and so I can accept it if you tell me I’m a loser.

Perhaps I’m just rationalizing, but for me, reaching the top of the pinnacle, achieving the dream, has never been about winning it all.

The dream comes in making the attempt, savouring the road I’ve travelled.

I am my own jail-keeper and I decide which lights will stay turned on.

I’ll never be a loser so long as I dream and play the “games” that excite me. Just being on the playing field, feeling the grass beneath my feet, the smell of popcorn in the air, is enough.

For me, sitting on the sidelines as a couch potato, only ever watching, never trying, that’s when I become a loser.

I tried writing some songs in my teen years. They sucked.

I write songs now and most of these suck too. But I’m enjoying the process, the road I’m travelling.

So I’m not backing down this time because I know that persistence means that if I write 20 songs… one of them will be a keeper that I feel pride in.

I have one of those songs in my repertoire now and I feel really good when I sing it. I’ll even sing it in public.

JUST_PLAIN_FOLK_1977

Earlier days of performance – making music with friends Nancy and Jim in the bars of Yellowknife…

Last week, when I sang one of my songs before an Open Mic “crowd” of 30 or 35 people I felt happy inside. There were no lit up iPhones swaying to my song. But I was doing something that I love. That was a dream fulfilled.

When I ran a half marathon race last month and pulled out early because of a nasty pain in my ass (yup, a literal pain in the ass) I was still smiling. I was doing something that I love.

If my family genetics from my parents’ generation have any bearing on my life … then I have 17 years left … maybe … maybe more… but maybe less too. Seventeen more years of delightful memory-making moments.

I’m filled up with past memories, so many memories. They’re wonderful friends that fill me with joyous smiles, some sorrowful tears, many warm emotions.

I’m also filled with future dreams… adventures of all sorts, books to read, songs to sing, places to travel, people to meet.

Dreams are great expectations, friends that we have yet to meet. Dreams are filled with potential and promise.

And that, for me is what life should be. Promise, expectation, dreams.

Dreams make me tingly.

I’m embracing this being a “loser” thing because it’s what sparkles on the freshly fallen snow, it’s what illuminates the moon and stars above me, it’s what makes every breathe like scrumptious melting chocolate on my tongue.

All of this might make me a loser to some, but I sure feel like I’m winning.

Isn’t that what’s important?

Dreamer

WHEN I GROW UP … Sailing Away in Your Dreams …

Leave a comment

Ain’t never gonna happen –  growing up, that is.

They say that boys mature later than girls … well, we don’t truly mature … EVER!

I know I’m trying hard not to!

Most of us boys retain a big chunk of our childhood immaturity, especially when it comes to bodily-related things like farting, and sex.  Anyway, that’s not important here.

I want to talk to you about the childhood dreams we have for ourselves.

.

It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see
Believe me      

Christopher Cross- Sailing

.

As youngsters, we lie half-awake in our beds, the hall light peeking in through the door cracked a hair.  Our little heads are filled with swirling thoughts and emotions and longings that we conjure up ourselves or are implanted into our heads by our parents, siblings, friends, and probably more often the media.

All of those influences jumble together and after blenderizing for a few years, out pours the smoothie that is us.

Boy Dreaming

As a 10 year-old I wanted – like so many many others – to be a doctor.

I’m not sure where the idea originated for me (it may have been playing doctor with Diane Dawson when we were 4 years old), but by the time I was in middle school, I was fascinated (academically only!) by illicit drugs and resuscitation and excitements of the medical variety. I wrote and pasted school projects together about heroin and other hard drug overdoses. I wanted to wear a cool white coat and save lives.

The idea that medicine might be a financial goldmine didn’t even seep under the door into my thinking, it was strictly the lure of blood and hard-pounding excitement.

And then in the early 1970’s along came a TV show called EMERGENCY!.

It chronicled two Los Angeles paramedics roaring around the California highways and freeways, saving hundreds of poor helpless souls with their blend of IV’s, and oxygen bottles and CPR. It was super-exciting, wet-dream stuff to a young pubescent boy.

There was nothing more I wanted than to jump into a red and white Paramedic vehicle that resembled a Good Humor ice cream truck but instead of ice cream delights it would be loaded with cases of bandages, and splints and stethoscopes and drawers and compartments filled with life-saving devices.

I would race to the scene of a car accident. Sirens and flashing lights ablaze.

Rivers of blood and broken, shattered limbs would be scattered across the freeway. I would jump out of the truck in my pristine white uniform and spring into frenzied activity like a superhero. The adrenaline rush would carry me from victim to victim as I diagnosed and miraculously saved each in turn. And look, when all is done, my uniform is still white and pristine.

Beautiful, sexy women and pets would fawn like fleas on a dog over my abilities to save lives, God’s power in my hands.

emergency!! TV Show

Yup, it was either a doctor or a paramedic.

So I became a medical lab technologist.

Huh, you ask? What happened?

The swirling dreams of childhood were just that as I adjusted to my personal perceived reality. In truth, I was a good, but fairly lazy student.

Becoming a doctor required a diligence and dedication to study and long working hours that I wasn’t prepared to commit. I wanted the dream, but only if I could attain it by sending in 2 cereal box tops and $1.49, whereupon I would receive my special MD certificate and stethoscope in the return mail. Easy peasy, but my own reality show was made of fewer fantasies and more real world truth … maybe I WAS into hard drugs!

The paramedic dream was dumped into the trash can when I realized that Canada offered no such training (at the time). I could be a “lowly” ambulance attendant and pick up fractured bodies discarded by the side of the road, but there would be no IV’s and electrical heart-shocking paddles, no heroic resuscitation efforts. It was just scoop ’em and deliver ’em to the real doctors who did the fun stuff.

What to do, what to do.

X-ray technology?  Black and white images shining through on light boxes? BORING!

Pharmacist? No paddles or IV’s there either. BORING AGAIN!!

LAB? Hmmm… there were needles and blood, and machines that had flashing lights and beeped. This could be it. It was almost being a doctor without 5 extra years of school and countless study hours.

Just two full years of college training and you had a certificate that gave you permission to poke needles into people and attach wires to read their heart beating. This was sounding better by the minute.

The pay rates kind of sucked but the counter-balance was that a lot of girls were enrolled in the course… instant dating material.

Blood, needles, machines, heart wires, girls, sex in hospital closets with nurses in white-starched uniforms …YES, this was it!

Nurse-Corset-

Sign me up! I wanna be a lab tech…

I signed on and before I could take another breath I was living the dream. I wore a white lab coat. I poked people with needles. I hooked wires to people’s chests. I was surrounded by cute girls. I was living the dream and living in the far north of Canada, saving lives of the miners and Inuit.

Working in a lab has given me a good life and I’ve had many wonderful moments. I’ve had a ton of laughs with some great colleagues.

But mostly, for me, it’s a job.

Like so many dreams, reality crashed the party.

  • Hours and hours looking down microscopes at drops of urine and blood.
  • Smearing smelly stool samples onto agar culture plates.
  • Call-backs in the middle of the night were adrenalin rushes for my junkie fixes but sending cross-matched blood to real blood-gushing patients had its stresses.
  • Analysis machines that flashed and beeped frequently broke down and were often uncooperative. I remembered how unmechanically-minded I truly was.
  • Hooking wires to the chests of 300 pound elderly ladies with gooey, fetid growth beneath their breasts was … well … EWWWW!

The chocolate cake that looks so good in the TV commercial ends up tasting like thick shortening and chemicals. The crisp, refreshing beer that attracts girls in bikinis by the harem-load tastes like every other beer minus the hotties. The car with leather heated seats that zooms and screeches around corners with a ferocious roar, breaks down on the side of the highway.

Not all dreams play out perfectly in real life.

Our dreams are like candy. They give us a sugar high that is elating. They sustain us when we feel crushed or low.

We’re mesmerized by dreams, and as Martha Stewart might say, “This is good”.

Whether fulfilled or not, life should be filled with dreams and wonder. Hope and promise are delights of the human spirit. Dreams refresh and inspire us to carry on through tough, painful times and are as important to us as Santa Claus is to Virginia.

To paraphrase a little,

dreams exist as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no dreams.

Yes Virginia, there are dreams.

And we are the dreamers, both as children and adults.

And I promise you, good reader, that as long as there are dreams to be dreamed, I’ll continue to let a dim shaft of light enter my bedroom. I’ll enjoy the endless swirling eddy of thoughts and emotions and longings that sustain me through the long night with a child’s openness and sense of wonder.

I ain’t never growing up!

Santa and Virginia