It is a Friday night and I am driving home. It is not early and it is not late. Although it is not a long drive I am enjoying the night, jazz on the radio. What I see is people in a terrific rush, passing me at high speeds – well above the speed limit.
Am I just enjoying the drive or am I getting old? We identify slow drivers as old or drunk. I am not driving particularly slowly, just not racing. It is a beautiful night, a night to be enjoyed. A night to roll the windows down and feel the wind on your face. I have always done this, since the time I started driving. Now it makes me feel young and beautiful.
All these people in a terrible rush. Are they getting home from work? Are they headed for a party, a date? What catastrophe will befall them if they don’t hurry? The older I get the less I understand that rush – unless I am late for an appointment of course. There are moments to be savored in this life and driving on a beautiful new moon night is one of them for me.
Stop and smell the roses, isn’t that what we have heard? So this is my version. Watching all those people missing the moment; perhaps they are headed for their own special moments and can’t wait to get there. Maybe what they don’t understand is that the moment, the experience, will still be there when they are – it will still be a moment. But the journey is it’s own special moment. Every moment is the now. If you are rushing toward another moment, you will always miss the one you are in.
So for me, it was a beautiful new moon Friday night, the windows down, the wind in my face, soft jazz playing and the now is always a wonderful thing.
Things I see – woman by the side of her car in a grocery parking lot. Sitting in the motorized cart. 24 pack of Budweiser in the cart’s basket, one light. An open bottle in her hand at 10:30 a.m. Couldn’t wait to get into the car, or maybe smart enough not to drive with the open bottle. Couldn’t wait to get home, the need burning her up.
This and other detritus of our American life is the palette of the grocery store parking lot. Panhandlers. Birds picking at the trash we are too impatient to bring to the can. Surgical masks ripped off of reluctantly worn faces and dropped for someone else’s infection. Bottles, cans, plastic bags despite the recycling bins by the store’s door.
We are an impatient people. Circling the parking lot endlessly for a spot closer to the door, God forbid we should walk a bit farther. Leaving our carts willy nilly because we are too lazy to walk to the cart corral. Leaving our trash because we can’t be bothered to bring it to a trash can; laziness or impatience, or both. Maybe for fitness sake we should make all parking spaces farther away from the store, and for the environment’s sake we should put trash cans everywhere because it doesn’t seem likely that retraining will be successful, or even happen, any time soon.
The only energy I see in the parking lot is the creative panhandlers and their dramatic tales of woe. Somehow they all sound the same – stranded families, broken down cars. When I offer them the location and names of organizations that can help magically they drift away to accost someone else.
The parking lot is a culture of it’s own. Do you put on your blinker to indicate that you are waiting for the spot? Does that even work? Mostly not. So we can add rudeness to the parking lot cultural characteristics. People walk behind moving cars, assuming that they are safe, that the driver knows they are there, not always a safe assumption. But that walk is always made with confidence, dare I say arrogance.
If the parking lot is a micro of our culture as a whole, on this day I am sad. It shows us to be addicted, sloppy, impatient, lazy, rude and arrogant. I dearly hope that is not what the world is really coming to. Hopefully parking lot culture is just the parking lot.
Oh my, just like that it is 2022. I find that hard to accept. Although I have done a bit more social, a bit more live things, it has fundamentally been almost two years. Two years of masking, of distancing, of staying home, of busy work and isolation. Two years of cooking for myself with the occasional pickup or delivery to break the monotony. Two years of home repairs and reorganization. Two years of loneliness and zooming.
It feels like 2021 was a ghost year. A year that didn’t really happen. Except I feel my age at least a year more, I see my body changing. I feel myself falling into ruts and routines because there is little to break them. Some are healthy, some very much not so. I feel old because the things I used to do that felt young aren’t happening all that much. The apathy of isolation makes motivation toward self-care an often fleeting thing. Perhaps saying so will help.
I am hoping that this new year will allow me to release those things I have been struggling with and to be open to whatever my new reality is. I know that I have no emotional or real time for resentment, envy, negativity, self-pity. But they seem to keep creeping back.
So what is the path to releasing those things that no longer serve me? Letting go of dreams that will never come true and allowing new ones to take their place. What is the way to allow love and happiness to be the guiding principle of my life? I think just keep talking to the people that understand, letting people love me despite myself and accepting that my life is so much better than it could have been or be. Keep writing, keep making music, keep cooking, keep reading.
I am resolved that I will not have another ghost year. I will make memories. With any luck, some dreams will come true. I will love the people in my life. With a little luck, maybe I will travel again. I will try to face every day with gratitude and a little bit of resolve to do better than the day before.
I had many notes in my phone and in small pads scattered about my life. These are notes of music I want to remember, quotes I liked and the odd things I see. I often wonder if those things are as odd to others as they seem to me.
Here is one: a headline on the news “Squirrel Trafficking Ring Busted.” What? I said. What? you are probably saying.
Does it really matter what the actual content of the article was? I don’t think so. The idea that there might have actually been people trafficking squirrels seemed totally bizarre to me. Why? Is the first question that comes to mind. The next was why is this newsworthy? Why do we care?
I don’t really have answers for these and many other questions that crop up in my mind as I go about my life. The seminal question is: Why do we care?My energy, my mental data banks, are full of caring about the larger things. Climate change, living an affordable life, homelessness, hunger, poverty and the imminence of civil war. My loved ones living with terminal or horribly chronic illness. Okay, that’s off my chest.
But really? Squirrel trafficking? This and many other equally mysterious notes were stored in an app on my phone. I recently got a new phone with the assurance that nothing would be lost. Of course all my notes of the last 3 years are gone. As is all the music I was working on with my guitar player/collaborator. As are all the phone messages from my now deceased mother and my now grown nephew when he was just little.
I found myself devastated with the loss of these things, so carefully preserved and stored. All the ideas for writing about the observed oddities of this country. All the music in progress. The sound of my mother’s voice. So, have I learned my lesson? Store things elsewhere? Not yet. I welcome suggestions. It has to be an app on my phone as that is the tool I carry with me. So much to learn so little time.