Music The Ultimate Time Traveler

I don’t need a gull-winged stainless steel sports car with a flux capacitor bolted to the rear to experience time travel. The magic of music is my chariot.

First of all, I love the now. The serendipity of the unknown and or being able to predict with whom my path will cross, or what lessons life might unwrap before my eyes are my favorite drug. If there is a default direction for my feet to point, it is forward.

The one exception, however, is music. I love the instant journeys brought on by hearing a song I first heard decades ago. The firing of millions of electrical connections inside my head quickly transports me back to moments in life I couldn’t remember on a bet.

IMG_4063.jpeg

Last night an Allman Brothers tune began filling the living room. Before the first six notes expired into the air, my mind placed me into a chair me twenty years ago. Sitting in a screened-in porch in Georgia, surrounded by a swarm of tall pine trees and thirsty mosquitoes, my fingertips remembering the cool sweat dripping from a phantom bottle of beer.

Any song by Creedence Clearwater Revival surfaces memories of my wife’s late brother, complete with his gentle smile and electric eyes. Or whenever the band Journey boomerangs me to the sound of my wife reminding me how I stupidly declined her offer of free concert tickets during the first few months of dating. The music of Queen reminds me of my brother bringing their mind-bending music into the house. Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road delivers thoughts of a friend who, I swear, wore out the grooves of his first copy of the double-album.

The sound of the keyboards dancing by Thelonious Monk never fails to catapult me to Iowa. Driving gravel roads in Iowa with my wife and young son, clouds of white dust billowing behind, we were in search of the remote farm from the movie Field of Dreams. The memory of pitching a foam baseball to our son with the sun melting into surrounding cornfields remains as magical now as it was that night.

One of my favorite memories is tied to Mussorgsky’s Pictures an Exhibition. While famous for cultural reasons, the notes never fail to transport me to laying face down in the living room with my brother, surrounded by sheets of paper and wax crayons.

Holding up the colorful cover of LP, my mom encouraged us to draw what we heard in the music. After a brief explanation of the music, she left the room.

“I’ll check on you boys later,” she said. “Have fun.”

Today, as a parent, I can read a time-killer a mile away. But at that moment, my brother and I were locked into an exciting journey of unwrapping a riddle. And for that introduction to creative thinking, I will always be thankful.

Music is as emotionally powerful as the spoken word. But only music can send us back in time without a flux capacitor.

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Puppies Deserve Love

Sometimes even your children surprise you.

“We got them both into the car,” our daughter said.

Her voice fills the cabin of my wife’s car.

I don’t have any scientific proof, but I swear, but I would my heart runs a smidge faster when she calls. Maybe that is a not-yet-discovered setting on the Fitbit wrapped about my wrist I should investigate.

Our daughter is a full-fledged adult and living out of state. She’s eight hundred and six miles and a different time zone to boot. But when she calls, she is right here, sitting next to us.

One of the things I’ve learned about raising kids is how they take on the tendencies or instincts of their parents. Our daughter, although tough as nails when the time calls, carry her mother’s heart, one as deep and gentle as any spring you’ll ever run across.

Our daughter is telling us about the result of her three-day campaign to rescue two abandoned dogs alongside the road.

“They were living in some bushes off the road,” she said.

The two dogs were an unusual pair. The older was a brown and black mix of a Dachshund and something brings a bit more bulk. The other was a Pit Bull-Lab mix and only a couple months old. Together the two holed up alongside the road, the Dachshund adopting and serving as the protector of the younger dog.

For a couple of days, our daughter and friend would stop by the side of the road, working to build a bond with the skittish puppies and talking softly, coaxing them out from below branches, and offering them snacks. And in the end, our daughter and friends would drive away empty-handed.

Then the puppies invested in the time and trust.

“They were hiding, being suspicious,” our daughter said. “But then the puppy recognized us and began wagging his tail.”

The dog cautiously approached the girls.

“When we finally got the puppy dog into the car, the other followed,” she said.

It is important to point out our daughter does not need a dog. Where she lives does not allow for a dog. The entire episode was purely her heart leading her feet.

“One has already is adopted, and the other is now in a foster home,” our daughter said.

The phone screen begins populating with photos of the two dogs. Pictures of the Dachshund looking up, it’s ear pinned back, initially nervous of what was happening. Another shows the younger puppy drinking clean water from a plastic cup brought by the girls.

I guess what moves me the most is this is unusual. Today’s life moves quickly and is filled with distractions – most powerfully, the phone at the end of our arm. Looking out the window of a moving car, noticing someone or something in need, demonstrates living with your heart wide open.

And because of our daughter following hers, two abandoned puppies are in the arms of someone who loves them.

-30-

IMG_7270.jpgIMG_7273.jpg

Never Forget Who Is Inside

“Today is one of my anniversaries.”

The woman behind the cash register grabs a bottle of water for a customer. The fishing pier is congested with tourists and fisherman.

“One of your anniversaries?” I ask.

“Been married three times,” she says. “Found out it is not the third time is the charm, more like three strikes and you are out.”

She laughs and turns and walks to an older man sitting on a bench, his fishing rod and walker beside him. He nods, thanking her.

I tear at the clear cellophane on a frozen watermelon Popsicle in hopes of softening the morning heat.

Love is not an easy thing. And like the beachfront, love is delicate and susceptible to disruptive storms.

I turn to my wife, the two of us now on 38 years figuring out our relationship.

With the cellophane removed from our Popsicles, we head back out the open door and down a long wooden pier to the beach. Ahead of us waves find their final destination on the sand, noisily downing beneath their own weight.

Relationships are complicated. If ever there was an understatement, this is it. No two relationships are ever the same. People change and evolve along the way. Predictable is rarely a word used to describe long-term relationships.

My wife jokes I am here second or possibly third husband. And her joke is a polite way of driving the point we have changed a lot since we first met. The truth is, we all change over time. Learning to evolve while holding on to the most essential elements that first brought you together, however, is not easy.

My aunt once shared an innocent nugget of wisdom about marriage. My wife and I newly married, we now believe my aunt intentionally dropped this knowing what lay ahead of two strong-willed people equally filled with a white-hot passion for each other.

She warned us life gets hard – but hang on.

“Never forget that person who you feel so madly in love all those years ago with is still inside – don’t let go,” she said.

Her words seemed innocent and idealistic at the time. Of course, I thought, life gets hard. And of course I’ll never forget why my wife and I first fell in love. How could I?

And then life proceeded to whack us two newlyweds around with a stiff two by four. Starting out life broke, then kids coming along, and then balancing family life, career, and each other. And the whacking continued. Honestly, it got rough requiring some serious growing up on my part.

But we followed my aunt’s advice, at times repeating it aloud to each other. A mantra for tough times, so to say.

I’ll skip the personal details, but we held as tightly to my aunt’s words as storms came and went. But in the end, – and fortunately – we’re still those two kids who fell madly in love all those years ago, only now we’re sharing Popsicles while walking the beach.

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Believe In America

I am proud to be an American. Proud of our collective and individual strengths, our ability to be knocked flat and get back up again even stronger and more committed. I am proud of our compassion towards one another. I am proud American is not perfect but is a people willing to admit so and work togetherScreen Shot 2019-07-04 at 8.48.57 AM.png becoming a better nation. I am proud to be a part of a country of people, who on balance, want what is best for their families, their friends, and their neighbors – and the neighborhood regularly extending beyond borders and to around the globe. I am proud no other nation on the planet peacefully evolves as America, changing leaders in the highest of offices without revolutions, without tanks in the streets, and without shots being fired in political anger. I am proud to be a citizen of the nation who not only first put a man on the moon but also whose citizens donate more to charity and aid around the world in the history of mankind. I am proud how for me catching sight of our nation’s flag always gives me pause, my eyes lingering on the colors as it gently waves across a blue sky. I am proud while we may not all look alike, speak alike, of hail from the same ancestry, we are Americans first. I am proud to be an American – and I am in this with all my heart, all my passion, and all I can ever be. I feel God Blessed to wake up in this land and to call this nation my home. I believe in the great American Experiment and always will. I believe, even with all its warts and faults, American is great, compassionate, ever-evolving, and its finest days are still ahead.

– Leonard Woolsey, first-generation American, July 4, 2019