Tag Archives: good days

Sunday Extra: Random Thoughts from a Middle Aged Music Buff

Okay, totally off topic today but I’ve been kicking around a music related random thought:

What if Jimi Hendrix was still alive and Eddie Van Halen had died after say, four albums? (Hendrix only officially released four albums in his career and Van Halen’s fourth was “Fair Warning”—which happens to be one of my favorites) Who’d be considered the bigger guitar god today?

What about other “icons”? Would Led Zeppelin still be making ground breaking music? Kurt Cobain? Axel Rose? (no, wait . . . )

Don’t get me wrong, Hendrix’ guitar playing was legendary, but he died right at the peak of both his talent and his impact. In other words, he died at the top of his game.

What if he hadn’t?

Compare that to the rise and fall of Eddie Van Halen. Eddie’s playing is also masterful, but he’s lost a step or two lately and he’s had his fair share of health scares, relational issues—both personal and professional (who’s the singer this week??) and over-the-top rock ‘n roll lifestyle excesses. All of which have taken their toll on his once ample talents. What if they hadn’t?

What if it was Van Halen that had died after his fiery introduction into rock shredderdom? What if it was Hendrix who’d lived into his, what 60’s now? with his own share of life’s trials and missteps.

Is it their talent that wanes over the years, drowning out the thunder of their early, revelatory, genre-changing styles? Or is it that, when “life” happens to those who turn out to be real people, the pedestal we’ve placed them on begins to shrink . . . and shrink . . . until they’re nothing more than . . . normal?

So, is Hendrix really that big of an icon? Or did he die before his living could humanize him? Is Van Halen a “has been”? Or has his living merely humanized the extraordinary talent he burst onto the rock scene with all those years ago?

So . . .

Take this in to work on Monday and see how big an argument you can get started. And kids, if you need to, you can ask your parent who Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen are . . . I won’t feel old. Honest I won’t.

Yeah, yeah I will.

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Stepping Away From the Self-Righteous Abyss

I had a perfectly good post ready to go today. It was weighty, full of insight and self-assurance in calling out what, in my perception, was yet another folly of our community. There was only one problem: Before I posted it this morning I read Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 2 & 3. If you’re not familiar with it, Paul basically points out (in quite vivid detail) the difference between knowledge of the law and application of the law. In other words, just because you know the law (the will of God for our lives) doesn’t mean you are righteous, you actually have to DO it; to live it out. Daily.

And, what I was going to say that others in our community weren’t doing, I wasn’t doing either. In this case, I was upset at our community’s lack of outrage over the county government’s decision to pull funding for a “meals on wheels” program for some of the elderly shut-ins in our community. I wasn’t upset at our local government although I hate that the government is forced into a decision that does this to these elderly citizens. (Yes, I say forced, because ultimately it is only through our continued funding {read: taxes} that social programs such as this can exist. You want lower taxes—here’s the result! Not that I have an opinion on the subject.) I was upset at our community’s lack of response (read: astonishment, activism, outrage) whereas the very next day there was a huge outpouring of community support over an eleven-year-old boy who had his bike stolen on the very day that he’d purchased it with money he’d worked all summer to attain.

But this morning I thought, “What did Ido?” Did I rush down to donate to my local senior center? No. Did I call up my local government official and express my concern over the decision? No. Did I remove the plank from my own eye so I could see more clearly to remove the speck from my brother’s eye?

No.

So, where was my basis for judgment? And within this realization I believe is the root cause of friction between those who call themselves the “faithful” and those that have yet to cross the line of faith. What’s the difference? If we, who call ourselves Christians, aren’t living with an outward appearance of being somehow different, what then are we? Just because we spend an hour or so in a building together on the weekend, how can we claim to be any better than . . .

Different than . . .

Special . . .

Set apart.

I have a lot of work to do with the huge plank in my own eye, before I can call out anyone else for the speck in their own. I can start by donating to the new food bank that just opened beside my own church (how did I never see that before?) I can start by being an example rather than a bullhorn. One of my favorite religious quotes has always been by St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words.”

Maybe it’s time I listen to it.

Freaks (the sequel . . .)

Okay, one more quick leap up on the soapbox and then I’m done, so bear with me.

I got to thinking more about my “Freaks” post and drawing the correlation between the sideshow at the county fair that my son witnessed, to some of the “medical” dramas on TV, to my own daughter. I think it was an article in our local newspaper, basically quizzing people on the level of controversy that this sideshow brought up in our humble little community, which started the process. Or it could have been discussing the issue with my wife, who I’m coming to discover is probably the world’s best sounding board for ideas and feedback.

Sure, the exhibit that includes “Little Linda” is an out-and-out throwback to the “freakshow” days of decades past. Little Linda herself doesn’t speak much (of her own choice); saying only that she is “okay”, “comfortable” and “full of God.” I suppose though that if she were to actively answer, either in her defense or justification, all the questions and concerns that her life-choices bring up that would pretty much be all she’d do. THAT would get irritating, tiring, and become more of a . . . well . . . a job.

So she sits quietly . . . and gets stared at. Which I think is the crux of the issue that makes my wife and I, and others (especially those parents and relatives of family members with disabilities) so uncomfortable: The staring. Call it ignorance, or discomfiture, or curiosity. Call it what you will . . .

But there is a solution! I believe we have come up with a safe and irreversible cure for it:

Education.

When people’s (especially children’s) gazes linger a little too long on my daughter, I simply walk over to them and say, “Her name’s . . . . ., why don’t you come say, ‘hi’.” There, stigma removed. All of a sudden she’s human.

I found it humorous that many people quoted in the article about “Little Linda” didn’t think she would be real; including my own son. “I didn’t think she’d be a real person,” he said (honestly thinking/hoping she’d be a robot); “I didn’t know what to do, so I just said, ‘hi’.” All of a sudden she was human. People left the display with a completely different attitude than when they walked in. Some amazed, some sad, some disgusted (at the display, not the woman), but changed they were.

And change is good.

We’re happy to talk about our daughter; about the struggles she’s faced and the struggles we’ve faced as parents and a family. That’s a reality. But the reality is also in the joy, the good stuff, the normality of having our wonderful daughter in our lives. And, even at six, she’s happy to talk on her own behalf . . . and talk she does! Granted, you’ll only understand about half of it but that’s ssooooooo not the point. The first thing you realize is . . . she’s first and foremost a little girl. She loves pink. And purple. And babies (man, does she love babies!) She loves to play dress-up and twirl “like a ballerina!”

It’s all about the education; about removing the stigma. Humanizing.

As my wife was quick to point out, even though the draw for some of those “medical” TV shows is the shock-and-awe of “the eight-limbed baby” or “the World’s Fattest Man” you realize, as the show unfolds, that they’re also . . . human. Even if we, as is a natural tendency in humanity, tend to react to some of these shows in a manner of pity or piety bordering on martyrdom (“oh, that poor dear; Look at the misery in her life. Thank God she has the strength she does, and thank God I don’t have to go through that.); or in an unrealistic and often unfair comparison—counting ourselves “better than” or “more fortunate than” or “at least we’re not (fill in the blank)”.

Even the less outrageous but equally as voyeuristic shows like “Celebrity Rehab” or even “Kate Plus Eight” bring a certain level of humanity to an otherwise modernized sideshow. They get to tell their side; their reality, their struggles, their joy, their good stuff. Still, if we would be willing recipients, they get to educate.

The more you know, the more you know! Ya know??!!  The simple fact that as many people were shocked as they were by the exhibition of “Little Linda” just goes to show how far we’ve already come.

The easiest way to remove stigma, or prejudice, or fear (especially fear) is education. And maybe, just maybe, there’s some value in those “medical” shows after all.

D.Faults

My lovely wife asked if she could read some of my post drafts earlier this week and, of course, I said yes. And so, I’ve been waiting over the last couple of days for any kind of feedback, wondering how she would take my feeble attempts at humor and meager exercises in pithiness. This morning the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and my wife says, “I read some of your posts yesterday . . .”

“. . . you don’t seem very happy.”

Wha . . uh, huh??

Ummm, okay.

“Your humor’s lame.” That I could’ve handled.

“You’re not as deep as you think you are.” That would’ve been okay, too.

Even, “your writing sucks,” wouldn’t have been surprising.

But, “You don’t seem very happy.”? Not what I was expecting.

So I read them again for myself; trying to read them through her eyes. There’s not a lot, I’m not that prolific. But I read them all, and you know what?

She’s right.

What I thought were witty attempts at humor with just a touch of weary cynicism were at times biting; bordering on annoyance and anger more often than I wanted to admit. What was going on?  What was I thinking?  Why am I doing this? Is it to provide a living, breathing document of my struggles and hopefully, eventual reconciliation between my public-oriented job and my chosen faith—as I’d always envisioned it to be? Or is my subconscious simply trying to exorcise my inner resentment and cynical, jaded demons?

My original desire in writing was to point up the nerve-wracking, wearisome, often frustrating world that we—the ones who have chosen customer service as our bread and butter—live and sometimes even thrive in; interweaving my struggle to come to terms with, and even have a cohesive relationship, between my work and my faith. But, reading through my as-yet-unposted drafts, you might start to believe that I truly do think the worst of people. That my opinion would be that if given the choice of right and wrong, good and evil, noble and self-serving, we as a species would bend to the self-serving, evil and “wrong”. Because, in my opinion and as some people would say, “it’s the way we’re wired.” Or, as I like to say, it’s our default. And thinking of people in this way is apparently MY default.

Ugh. What a wonderful way to go through life. Especially when you don’t know it.  Yet when it’s pointed out to you it’s so blatantly obvious you can’t help but go, “oh, crap. Yeah.”

So . . . “You don’t seem very happy.”

No, I don’t.

And I’m glad she’s pointed this out. I’m glad that, what I thought were passable attempts at witticism—attempts to make other people happy—only pointed up the lack of joy and happiness in my own life . . . pointed up by the one closest to me. And I guess she should know.

And that makes me happy.