The End Of The Line

Will someone please check the calendar? This is Spring, right? A cold 30 degrees this morning at the Terra but bright skies. As long as there’s some sunshine, the cold ain’t so bad. Hey, that might be a good lyrical line for a song. I’d better start working on that.

I’ve convinced myself to limit the news I watch and reading all the Facebook posts, no make those arguments and spend my mornings this week listening to music. It definitely helps to improve my mood and keeps my vocal cords in shape. Unfortunately, that’s about the only muscle group getting exercise these days. I need warmer drier weather to get back to walking in the woods.

This morning as I was singing along to the ‘Feel Good Classic Rock’ station on Prime Music, the song ‘The End of the Line’ started playing. The one that was done by the Traveling Wilburys. I had not heard it for quite some time but the lyrics came back to me immediately.

“Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand”

These days I think we’re all doing the best we can. Not too much living as we please but if we can get out and take a ride in the breeze while maintaining an appropriate social distance of course, I think we would all feel better. The Doodle and I are going to take a drive today and let the cold Ohio breeze blow through our hair. For about 30 seconds. Brrrr.

While we are all getting through this strange time, are you lending a hand as the last line of the verse above mentions? I’ve been cooped up in the Terra for three weeks now since driving back to Ohio from Florida, and for the Doodle’s sake (she has asked for her own social distancing), I’m connecting with different organizations in the area to see how I can help in serving the community. Not sure what I’ll end up doing but excited to be able to do so.

One thing on Facebook that has been encouraging for me to see is all the videos of people sharing simple acts of kindness with each other. I wish we had more of that on social media. So many ways to brighten the day of those around us. I encourage you to think of what would be fun for you to share with others and go for it.

Our church, Meadow Park, has a philosophy that we all need to ‘Live Love’. We pick multiple days each year to go out into the community as the body of Christ and share simple acts of kindness to whomever God brings our way. Those are some of the best days all year for those we meet (we hope) and for ourselves as well. Nothing fancy, just trying to Live Love. On those days and every day.

The last two verses to End of the Line are below. Or maybe they’re the chorus, forgive me, Mr. Havelka (my high school choir director), for not remembering my song structure correctly. But I guess it really doesn’t matter.

The point of the song, to me, is even if we’re old and gray and even if the sun don’t shine, we’re all still going to the end of the line. So why not remember to live (love) and let live and do our best to forgive.

“Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive”

“Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line”

I hope you make time to ride around in the breeze over the days ahead. And find a way to do the best you can to lend a hand as we all ride out this crazy coronavirus together.

Be encouraged folks. And be encouragement to one another.

See you down the road….

Is This Surreal Life

Is this just fantasy.
Caught in a landslide.
No escape from quarantine.

Not quite the words you may remember from the song Bohemian Rhapsody but those are the words that have been playing in my mind since listening to the song this morning. It truly is a surreal time we are all living in.

Now don’t worry. I haven’t shot a man – yet. But as I listened, okay as I was singing to the song this morning I started to think about how the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty Freddie Mercury felt is very similar to what many of us are feeling now. I know there have been moments these past couple weeks that I have felt like a poor boy with shivers down my spine. No body aches yet and I sure do hope they don’t start.

But anyway, isn’t it crazy how quickly our world has changed? Both throughout the globe and in our own personal worlds? We’ve gone from every day living to waiting on the daily press conference from our President or Governor to see how we need to adjust our living for the next day. Can we, should we go to the park for a walk or grab some groceries from the store? Will I loose my job? How will I pay my bills? Will I get sick? Will someone I love? What can I do right now to help others in more need than I am?

So many questions and to make it even worse, so many opinions and news reports bombarding us each day on television or through social media. It’s a lot to take in and process. It’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed. I have at times so I’ve limited by news and social media time to just in the morning and then again in the early evening. And there’s the daily 2pm ‘Wine with DeWine’ press conference here in Ohio. I am running low on red wine in case anyone wants to help a guy out.

Self isolating, social distancing, and sheltering at home in some regards are really easy for me to do. I live in an RV. Just me and the Doodle. There’s plenty of room between our lot and the few others here at our current campground. Enough room to take a walk and still be able to say hi or have a short conversation from a six foot distance. Not quite as cordial as usual at the campground but still friendly enough. I’m looking forward to being able to gather around a campfire with folks again and share a few cold drinks.

Until that time is possible, I’m looking for ways to stay in contact with people. My family and friends. Especially my grand kids. Being able to call, text, FaceTime, Hangout, and Skype with them is really helpful but still there are times when loneliness creeps in. I’m comfortable being alone and pretty much always have been comfortable with it but when being alone is not just by choice it’s a little harder.

I found myself getting caught up in the vast uncertainty of what’s going on and decided to limit the input, like I mentioned above, and to substitute that and fill my time reading and with music. Most of my reading is in the Bible right now and devotional type books. I’ve been a follower of the Christ for 35 years and in good times and bad, I’m pulled back to the scriptures and the message of love and grace that has and always will be there for me. For all of us. For everyone. I find not just comfort in that but also confidence that no matter what is going on or how crazy the world around may be, I can face it.

And music. Since I was probably three or four years old, I’ve loved music. I can’t say all music, like that whole Ska thing a few years back, but almost every genre of music I do enjoy. Just depends upon my mood and the occasion. Lately in the mornings I’ve been listening to southern rock from the 70’s to get my day started. While cooking, I usually have mellow acoustic tunes playing either from the 70s or some pretty good current artists. I may change genres five or six times throughout the day. Basically just following where my spirit takes me. And of course I’m singing along. Scripture does tell us to make a joyful noise don’t you know. That’s one scripture lesson that I can pretty easily follow.

The Doodle and I came back to Ohio about four weeks early in case traveling within the US became more restricted. I wasn’t really excited to drive back into Ohio weather but it’s comforting to be back and to be close to my kids and friends. I am waiting ten to fourteen days before going to see anyone just in case I picked up the virus on my trip back. Can’t wait to hug, play with, and tickle my grand kids. And one or two other folks I know. You know who you are.

Sitting here tonight, riding out a pretty good thunderstorm, I’m writing this and thinking how thankful I really am. Life’s been good to me so far although very challenging at times. Even disappointing and tragic. But my life has taught me to enjoy today. To live in each moment as they come. To not worry about tomorrow because in all honestly I have very little control over it. That’s pretty obvious right now in my world and probably in yours too. To give my concerns and fears to the One that does know the future and to be at peace as much as I can each day. Some days are easier than others to do that but my faith keeps me trying. And my hope doesn’t fade.

So folks, I encourage you to turn off the news and decrease your time on social media over the weeks before us. Find a few good books and spend your time getting lost for a while in the worlds written in those pages. And turn on those old songs that you know by heart and sing along as loud as you can. Loud enough for your neighbors to hear you. You may just be giving them the song they need to hear and the courage to sing through the days ahead.

Any way the wind blows.

See you down the road….

Tell Me Christmas Are We Wise

 

Merry Christmas! Yes I know it’s the day after Christmas. It’s time to firm up our plans for New Year’s Eve and start putting away the Christmas decorations. Christmas 2019 was great but Father Time keeps moving on and so must we. In just a few nights we’ll be welcoming in the 3rd decade of the 21st century. Can you believe it? It seems like just last year we were all partying like it was 1999. Time does indeed move on. And quickly.

So what did you do this day after Christmas? Did you do some gift returning or exchanging? Did you stock up on sale items for Christmas 2020? Did you spend one more day with family before heading out tomorrow? Did you binge-watch the final day of Christmas movies on Hallmark, Ion, Lifetime, and Netflix? Or did you spend this day sitting at home, doing pretty much what you do every day, spending it alone?

This afternoon a friend and I went to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) performance of Christmas Eve and Other Stories. Let me tell you the rock and roll road show still exists and man was it fantastic! Awesome guitar licks. Glass shattering vocals. Music that really did rock my socks off. And a light and pyrotechnics show that was better than anything I saw in the 70s. The TSO musicians are true rockers and they made this 60-year-old guy feel like he was 20 again this afternoon. Yes, we went to the matinee performance – I am 60 you know.

You can google the history of TSO to see how Paul O’Neill and his collaborators brought great rock musicians together in the late 1990s to create an entertainment explosion of song and stage. I get goosebumps whenever I hear their music and think about how they took classical music compositions we pretty much all know and rocked them out to reach into another genre. If you haven’t heard them before you should give them a listen. And if you have never seen them on stage, you really need to. Get ready to see the longest hair you’ve seen since Cher in the 60s. And that’s just the guys in the group!

Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the weaving of basically three stories. The original Christmas story of our Savior coming to the earth. The story of God sending an angel today to see if the spirit of Christmas still exists in the hearts of humankind. And the story of a run-away young girl trying to get home to her father who longs for her return. The music that brings all these stories together is beautiful. Each song tells a story within itself and when the songs are put together it’s very moving

There’s one song that always moves me. It’s called Old City Bar. That’s right, in the midst of a Christmas performance there is a song about a bar. Remember this is rock music.

This song tells the story of the run-away girl trying to find a way to get back home on Christmas Eve. It’s sad and inspiring at the same time. It’s a song about how we’re all connected, especially on Christmas Eve, and how we all share the same hope for love and belonging. I’ll include a link to the song at the end of this post. Maybe it will talk to you and maybe it won’t. Maybe this style of music isn’t for you. But the central message of Old City Bar, as well as the entire Christmas Eve and Other Stories performance, is a message for all of us to think about not just on Christmas Eve but every day of the year.

That message is pretty much summarized by this one verse:
If you want to arrange it
This world, you can change it
If we could somehow
Make this Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
To know who needs help,
You need only just ask.

Change the world. We all have ideas on how to change the world to make it better. But better for whom? For a neighbor? For a stranger? For ourselves? The story of Christmas is perhaps the greatest story about change that has ever been told. You can choose to believe it or not. That’s your right and privilege. But I suggest to you that no greater change for a better future has ever been given to humankind than that which occurred on that first Christmas. If we want to make this Christmas thing last, this spirit of Christmas, of peace and goodwill towards men, then perhaps it is as simple as just asking if someone needs help. Even if that someone is ourselves.

The other song that always moves me is called This Christmas Day. It’s the song the father sings once he learns his daughter is on her way home after receiving the help of the bartender of the Old City Bar. If you’ve ever had a child or other loved one that’s been struggling away from home, you will relate to the father’s words.

Here is the first verse:
“So tell me Christmas are we wise
To believe in things we never see
Are Prayers just wishes in disguise
And are these wishes being granted me
For now I see the answering
To every prayer I’ve prayed
She’s coming home this Christmas Day”

Just as this father saw his wish, his prayer, being granted, I think we too will see the answering to our prayers for those we love. To believe in things we never see. I believe we are wise to place our hope in Christmas and to live out that hope every day of our lives. Think of the joy that would give our Father and the peace we will experience.

Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year friends! I hope you give a look and listen to the Old City Bar link below. Check out the entire Christmas Eve and Other Stories if you can. It will rock your socks off and more than likely bring you the peace of Christmas in a light show pyro-technic sort of way.

I’ll see you down the road in 2020….

Home For Christmas

“The sun is shining, the grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.”

“But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up north….”

Okay I know it’s only December the 13th and I’m in Frostproof, Florida, not L.A., but the lyrics above have been stuck in my head all day. Thank you FM radio stations!

Do you know which Christmas song these lyrics are from?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite Christmas albums had the song White Christmas on it. Not by Bing Crosby but sung by Robert Goulet. If you’re under the age of 50 you probably don’t know who he was but as an adolescent boy going through the voice change of puberty, I envied Mr. Goulet’s deep resonating voice. Especially on his version of White Christmas. I still prefer his version over Bing’s.

And I would bet, most folks don’t know that White Christmas included the opening lyrics above. There’s debate where the song was written. Some feel it was started in Southern California and then finished perhaps in the New York Catskills mountains where Irving Berlin’s family had a home. If that’s the case then including lines about orange and palm trees make sense. Plus I don’t remember seeing any of those trees swaying at the Pine Tree Lodge in Vermont in the movie White Christmas.

Honestly, I’m not dreaming of a white Christmas at all this year. In fact I’m trying to avoid the snow as much as possible. But if old man Winter decides to drop a few inches in Ohio while I’m home for Christmas that will be okay. I have grandkids to play with in the snow now and they make everything more fun. Except for maybe driving in the muck and slush. And certainly not in a one horse open sleigh. The shuttle craft is AWD and stays much warmer.

This will be the first time in my sixty years of living, that I have ‘gone home’ for Christmas. I’ve always been at home for Christmas as well as most holidays, so this year is a bit different for me.

I’ve been on the road, fulltime RV living, for almost five months now. Hard to believe that much time has past by already. And to be honest, with the holidays, especially Christmas, coming up very soon, I’m feeling a little distant from my home, friends, and kids. Both in miles and even in spirit a little. It was just today that the Christmas spirit kicked in for me. I stopped playing Hits from the 70s and made the switch to Christmas music. Most of that Christmas music is also from the 70s or before but it’s music that I’ve heard many, many times and always brings a smile to my face and a lift in my mood.

So on one of the local FM stations down here, I heard the Robert Goulet version of White Christmas. I was singing loud and clear for all to hear while driving down US27 today and received a thumbs up from another driver while at a stop light. At least I think it was his thumb. As we pulled away from the light, White Christmas finished and another of my favorite Christmas songs came on…

“I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do
And although I know it’s a long road back
I promise you”

Ah, Johnny Mathis! His version of I’ll Be Home For Christmas is a classic and I think it too is the best version of the song. It was also on that Christmas album from my youth. I think I’m becoming that old man that thinks the only good music comes from the 60s and 70s. Maybe early 80s too. Today’s music just ain’t got the same soul. Name that tune if you can.

I love the opening lyrics to I’ll Be Home and this year they are a perfect fit for me. It will be great to celebrate my favorite holiday with the kids and grands. Our Christmas for the past two years has become quite different from the previous couple of decades. Without Barb, the holidays especially Christmas, just aren’t the same. But don’t misunderstand me. Things are different but still good. The love that Barb built within our family has remained intact and even grown stronger as we miss her. That’s part of her legacy and I plan on continuing that over the years ahead.

I remember the first time I heard I’ll Be Home for Christmas that first Christmas in 2017 without Barb. I was again in my car, driving home from work, when the song came on the radio. I had to pull over until the song finished. The words took on a new meaning for me. I couldn’t sing along. I couldn’t drive.

Barb was home for Christmas. Did she have snow and mistletoe? I don’t really know but I knew then and know still today that she is most definitely home. Sure, not at home with me and the kids but she had made it to her ultimate home. Can you imagine what Christmas is like in heaven? I try to but I’m sure I don’t come close to comprehending the beauty of it. The joy in celebrating His birthday with Him. What a party that must be. The true White Christ Mass.

Today I could sing along with Johnny and even tried to harmonize a little with him. Music brings peace to the soul and I’m thankful it does. Songs bring back memories of loved ones we miss and gives us the encouragement to keep going. To dream about the good times in the past and the good times to come. Until I, we all, are home for Christmas.

Friends, may all your days be merry and bright this Christmas season.

See you down the road….

Just Look At Them And Sigh

Howdy! It’s been a while since I last entered a post from along the road. You’d think now that I’m retired and traveling the country in my condo on wheels I’d have plenty of time to write. Well, I have had the time just not the motivation these past few weeks. When I started this blog my plan was to only post/write when I felt the stirring to do so. Haven’t felt that much since the last entry but this week, getting back on the road after visiting with family and friends in Ohio, I’m feeling energized and eager to get back into it.
So here goes….

Have you ever noticed that you don’t really notice things around you until those things have meaning in your life? Like, for example, the way birds space themselves when sitting on a powerline. There must be some genetic avian programming then naturally causes them to sit equal distance from each other. Or have you noticed that people stopping at interstate rest areas are not very talkative? They all seem to jump out of their cars, walk as fast as they can to the restroom, and then return to their cars at a slightly slower pace. I’ve tried to strike up conversions with folks at almost every rest area but I get little response. I do wait until we’ve washed our hands so to not interfere with their main task at hand, per se.

These are just two of the many deep thoughts and amusing experiences I’ve had while traveling in the Terra these past four months. Hard to believe it’s already been four months living on the road but I’m here to tell ya I really like it. The two plus weeks I spent back in Ohio over the Thanksgiving holiday were nice and I loved being with friends and my kids, but getting back on the road has brought me a new energy that sort of confirms I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this time in my life. Have you ever felt that sort of confirmation that what you’re doing is exactly what you should be doing? It’s a fantastic feeling of peace and strength.

Today while cleaning the Terra and getting it ready to roll on down the highway tomorrow, I asked Alexa to play some mellow 70s and 80s music. She happily complied and started playing songs from James Taylor, Jim Croce, Carole King, and Dan Fogelberg among others. Fogelberg has always been one of my favorite singers. His song “Leader of the Band” is a touching tribute to his father and pulls at my heart strings every time I hear it. He also recorded “Same Old Lang Syne” which we hear quite frequently this time of year. It’s another song that gets to me and brings a smile to my face while listening and thinking about friends from my past. Both are songs I love to sing along with. Just ask the Doodle.

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young also popped up today on Alexa’s playlist. I was never much of a fan of their music when I was younger because I thought all their songs sounded the same. And while this is mostly true, over the years I’ve really come to appreciate their lyrics and harmonies. Their song “Teach Your Children” played today and even though I’ve heard and sang along to that songs hundreds of times, today I heard more in the lyrics and I’ve been thinking about it all day.

The song is mostly known as a war protest song released in 1970 to counteract the Vietnam War. But today when I was listening and not singing along I really focused in on the two verse/chorus combinations. Here’s the first:

“You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.”

Did you hear the song in your mind as you read this? The thought that came to me today had nothing to do with a war protest but instead I thought about my life. How I’m on the road, in many ways I have been my whole life, and how my experiences, choices, and actions have impacted my kids. While trying to become myself I’ve made a number of mistakes. Okay more like a lot of mistakes which have sort of created my own ‘father’s hell‘ as the lyrics state. Troubles and hard times I’ve caused in my children’s lives mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing as a parent. I feel regret because of those times but like the verse continues, I also feel hope.

The lyrics continue with ‘feed them on your dreams’. I think the wish of every parent is that the dreams you have for your children come true for them. I really like the words ‘the one they picks, the one you’ll know by’. Kind of broken English I guess but to me this is saying let your children decide for themselves what dreams they want to dream and achieve. Not easy for a lot of we parents to do but I’ve found that my kids are pretty good dreamers on their own and are quite good at achieving their dreams if I just let them and support them in ways they want me to support them. The second part of the lyrics go like this:

“And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

I love the words ‘of tender years’. I think as parents we do see our children as tender in years. Even when they are parents themselves. But notice how the lyrics continue by telling the children to try to understand what their parents have been through. What they grew by. I really believe now, at this time in my life, that my kids are helping me with their youth. Feeding me by their dreams. Each one in their own way is showing me the truth that I’ve perhaps missed or misunderstood while trying to be a good parent. It’s humbling to realize that your kids can do this for you even though you are older and supposedly wiser.

I guess, for me, the bottom line in all this is each one of us has been a child and many of us are a parent. We may not always understand each other, the parent and the child, but we need to give each other the freedom to make our own dreams come true and decide for ourselves how we should live. Our ways and choices in life may be different but the song makes a lot of sense with the ending lyrics:

“The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

Parents trust you children. Children trust your parents. And all of us show respect towards one another. And as often as we can, “just look at them and sigh and know they love you”.

Here’s a link to the song on YouTube if you would like to listen: https://youtu.be/ztVaqZajq-I

See you down the road….

Yesterday

Definition of the adverb Yesterday according to Webster:
1) on the day past; on the day preceding today
2) at a time not long past; only a short time ago

Definition of the noun Yesterday according to Webster:
1) the day last past; the day next before the present
2) recent time; time not long past
3) past time – usually used in plural

Definition of the word Yesterday according to Jon:
1) a movie
2) a song
3) what we will call today tomorrow

No, I haven’t recently received a degree in English nor Time Travel. Although time travel would be pretty cool. Imagine going back to yesterday and reliving that day over again while remembering everything that already occurred on that day. Sounds like a good plot for a movie. I’ll contact Bill Murray tomorrow on that.

A Movie:

What has made me nostalgic tonight for yesterday was triggered by seeing the movie Yesterday this evening. The basic plot is a struggling musician is hit by a bus at the exact moment the whole world suffers a mysterious power outage. When the lights come back on our musician finds himself in the hospital and in a world where a number of things never happened yesterday nor ever. Most significant of which was the music of the Beatles. I know, you’re thinking what a terrifying world that would be. Talk about your Hard Day’s Night!

I won’t give away much more of the movie than to say it’s a love story. With some really great music. And a message of being true to yourself no matter what situations you find yourself in. And as my wife Barb used to say, ‘You know, there’s a lesson in that.’ It’s a good movie and I encourage you to see it. But please skip the butter substance on the popcorn. I did not and I’m out of Tums.

The Song:

It’s pretty obvious the title of the movie comes from the Beatle’s song Yesterday. In my life (that’s another really good song), Yesterday has always been a meaningful tune. One of my favorites. I’ve envisioned myself playing the song on the piano and singing it just the way Lennon and McCartney wrote it. Sad undertone about lost love. I’ve loved the song since I was a teenager for its simple elegance but when Barb finished her journey with cancer in 2017, the song took on very real meaning for me.

Suddenly
I’m not half the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh yesterday came suddenly

If you’ve lost someone that was your other half, someone that made you whole, then I’m guessing the song gets to you like it gets to me. It brings feelings of loss and sadness just as fresh as on the day that yesterday changed my future. It brings back memories of walking beside her through her treatments and through her decline. It brings to today the emptiness I hoped was just in the past. “Why she had to go, I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.’

But, and thank God there is a but, when I hear the song it also brings back to me the memories before her cancer. Our meeting at Mickey’s the first time. Our wedding. Our kids being born. All wonderful moments in a life well lived through both easy and challenging times. That’s what life is. A combination of good days and bad days. Of living the usual and surviving the unusual. Of not letting the sad moments of yesterday prevent the possible happiness of tomorrow. And that brings me to my third definition of yesterday.

What We Will Call Today Tomorrow

Have you ever thought about today what you will think about this day tomorrow? What I should have done more of, have done differently, or have not done at all. My mom once told me to really think about what I’m about to do and the possible consequences before I do it. It’s good advice and after surviving not listening to her advice for quite a few years, I started to implement her logic and I’m sure it has saved me from some embarrassing and regretful situations. Thank you, mom!

We can and should remember our experiences of yesterday as they are part of us and have shaped us into who we are today. But they don’t have to get in the way of who we can be tomorrow. We take yesterday with us through today and into tomorrow as we continue our journey in life. I’m comforted to think that even though my wife is not physically with me now, she is with me in my memories of yesterday and encouraging me to make new memories while living today and tomorrow.

The road is long and winding (another great song) and as long as I’m able to travel it, I’m going to do so with the strength I’ve gathered from yesterday and with a hope for tomorrow. So that when today is tomorrow’s yesterday, I can smile and be happy with where I’ve been and how I’ve done. Oh, I believe in yesterday. And today. And tomorrow.

So What About Tomorrow:

Tomorrow, or actually this coming Sunday, I have a few changes happening. The Doodle and I are moving out of our apartment and will begin full-time RV living on the road in our Class A motorhome. I’m naming the motorhome Terra because she is a Fleetwood Terra model. I have been encouraged to call her Terry by one of my nieces as my middle name is Terrence and Terry was my nickname as a kid. She thinks that would be pretty funny and fitting but I’m going to stick with Terra. After all, I’d much rather say I live with a goddess named Terra (check your Roman mythology folks). Wouldn’t you?!

Going to full-time RV living has been on my mind for a number of years and life’s road has led me to the opportunity to give it a shot. Before her cancer hit, I had talked Barb into RV living when we both retired. I know she will get many laughs watching me from above as I learn from my mistakes. I’m assuming you’ve seen Robin Williams in the movie RV. Enough said.

It will be interesting and I’m both excited and terrified but it really feels like something I’m meant to do.  As we travel the U.S., I’ll be writing about people I meet along the road and their life experiences as well as my own. And Izzy the Doodle will have her own byline to contribute from time to time her thoughts on living with me on the road. We have a bet on who’s posts will get the most likes. I just need a little help from my friends (yes another really good song). Don’t let me down, folks.

So until next time, see you down the road….

Literally!

Every New Beginning…

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while now, you may have picked up on the fact that music has played a major role in defining who I am. Music has brought me to my faith, lifted me up when I’ve been down, and moved me to tears more times than I can count. Both happy and sad tears.

Since my childhood, listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other early rockers on my record player, through my teenager 8-track tape years listening and cruising to Boston, Foreigner, Foghat, and the J Geils Band, through the many genres and decades leading up to today, music has always brought meaning and emotion into my life. It’s sorta in my soul I think.

Bob Seger was one of my favorite singers in the 70s and 80s. I bet you can hear one of his songs in your head right now. Old Time Rock and Roll, Night Moves, Still the Same, Against the Wind. The rhythms and lyrics of many of these songs have stuck with me over the years and I find myself going back to them at different times to help me get through things going on in my life. I wonder which artists and songs have stayed with you over the years. Which have carried you through?

One Seger song that I’ve always loved and yet haunts me is Turn the Page. If you’re familiar with it, you know it’s about a singer on the road playing in different cities night after night. It’s about the grind and toll it is taking on him and how he wishes the trip was through. It’s about encounters with people in places he doesn’t know or even want to be with. It’s about the empty feeling he has in his soul.

I do like to sing but I’ve never been on tour so I can’t personally relate to what Bob Seger was specifically singing about in Turn the Page. But I can understand and relate to the empty feeling caused by what he was experiencing. There have been many times in my almost 60 years, that life events have made me feel exhausted. Burned out. Wanting to just give up. And a few times I have. I just couldn’t turn the page in my life to see what was next and frankly didn’t really care. I had had enough. Have you been there?

In 1998, the song Closing Time by Semisonic came out. At first, I didn’t really like the song much. I mean come on, it was about a guy at a bar hoping a certain someone would take him home after the bar closed. Maybe it brought back memories of some closing times at Mickey’s in my home town back in the 80s. Might have hit a little too close to home for me but that’s another story for another time. Maybe over a beer. You can buy.

But in the song Closing Time, there is one line that over the past 20 years seems to always come back to my mind. And during the last two years, it has come to mind many times when I’ve been really struggling with turning the page to the next chapter in my life. And I have found encouragement in the words.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Pretty simple right but oh so hard to think of when you’re in crisis, or grieving, or just worn out. If we allowed every page in our lives to just go on and on, nothing would ever change. We’d be stuck on the road night after night, perhaps playing star over and over again just like Seger.

Thankfully, I’ve come to understand a new beginning is only possible if we move on or close out the current page we’re living in and release the empty and scared feelings to allow our lives to begin again. Ain’t easy to do but I’ve found I can.

Which page are you on right now? Are you at the end of a chapter in your life and finding it really difficult to turn the page to something new? I want to encourage you to keep going, close out the page your on now, and turn to that new beginning that’s waiting for you. You can do it. Put on an old song that lifts you up and move on. It’s closing time. The rest is still unwritten.

Oh wait, that’s another song. Perhaps for another time.

See you down the road….

The Rocks and Stones

When Jesus Christ Superstar came out around 1970, I was just 10 years old. Through my teenage years this musical perspective of the days leading up to the Christ’s death on the cross, the songs from the musical, especially the lyrics, led me to want to learn more about the story.

I’ve always loved rock music and the JC Superstar production is one thing, possibly the main thing, that led me to read the Bible, talk to God, and 15 years later at age 25 accept Jesus as savior and begin to follow Him.

I’m still following and trying each day to live my life to the fullest. Not always easy and many days I fail in following Him. But because of the grace God has given me and the sacrifice the Christ made for me, I go on.

There’s really nothing in this world that can change that. Many things have tried but no pain, no sadness, no success or failure, not even death can stop the shouting in my soul of my thankfulness to God.

The song Hosanna from the musical has the following lyrics, which I believe for all of us that are followers of the Christ, really convey the joy we feel.

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?

Nothing can be done to stop the shouting.

If every tongue were stilled

The noise would still continue.

The rocks and stone themselves would start to sing

As we walk through this week leading to Easter Sunday, it is my hope and prayer that each of you are intrigued by some aspect of the story and the mystery of the Christ.

And that you explore what Easter is really about.

And who this Christ really is.

Happy Easter Friends.

See you down the road….

Just Another Day….

Remember the song Another Day by Paul McCartney? It’s been going through my head off and on all day. Catchy little tune but the lyrics are rather sad. A woman living each day the same, over and over while waiting on the man of her dreams to come and break the sad spell cast over her life. The song ends the way it began. Without her hero. Just another day.

Today, November 29, has been in many ways just another day for me. I woke up at the usual time which is always 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. I fed and walked the Doodle. Got showered and dressed to go to my retirement job (which honestly is a blast) at my daughter’s play cafe for kids called Hoot Studio. Came home, fed and walked the Doodle again. Paid the end of the month bills and am now settling down to write a little before going to sleep. Just another day.

But also today a number of uncommon things came my way. You see today is the 30th celebration of my 29th birthday and I’ve been blessed by many birthday wishes from some pretty fantastic folks. A group of preschoolers singing happy birthday for me. A good friend taking me to lunch. Facebook comments and birthday well wishes. Happy Birthday texts from family and friends. All wonderful reminders that today was just another day which was made very special by the kindness of others. And there lies the answer for the woman in the song, for me, and for each of you. Just another day of kindness.

There were a couple of moments today between the happy birthday wishes, where I felt sad and even lonely. Sort of like the woman in the song. Remorse crept into my emotions as I thought about another birthday, another day, without the loved ones I’d lost over the past few years. Tears began to swell up in my eyes and I had to find a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes. I had not expected these emotions to come to me today but they did and tonight I’ve been reflecting on them. And with that, another song has started playing in my mind.

Three Dog Night did a song back in the 70s called One. It’s a reflection on missing someone that was in your life but is not there anymore. There are two lines from the song that have been resonating with me tonight; “It’s just no good anymore since you went away, Now I spend my time just making rhymes of yesterday”.

When you miss someone very much, perhaps with all of your heart, it’s easy to spend your time, your thoughts, living in the past. Clinging to the past. Missing what has been.

Memories of those we’ve loved are wonderful things to be cherished but what I have learned is that continuing to focus deeply and entirely each day in those memories keeps us from living the life we have now. A life that has been created from and because of those past loves and experiences. A life that needs to be lived in the now. To its fullest. Not as one just getting through another day but with hope built up from the kindness of others that has been given to us.

So with tomorrow and the beginning of my 31st year of being 29, I am choosing to live each day not as Just Another Day of being One but as a day to be thankful for the lives and loves in my past. Living in the now with the hope, the joy, of the kindness that has been given to me. And choosing to do my best to bring kindness into the days of those around me. How about you join me.

See you down the road….

A Funeral For A Friend

Ever since I was a teenager, Elton John has been one of my favorites. His music in the seventies was new and unique and combined piano and rock in such a way that it connected with me deeply. Your Song, Candle In The Wind, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, and A Funeral For A Friend to this day still move me when I’m listening and singing along.

Sir Elton is currently on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour and I’m planning on going next Friday night here in Columbus. I’ve never seen him in person and I’m excited as a teenager to get this opportunity before he stops touring. And let me take this opportunity to apologize in advance to all those that will be sitting around me for the raspy singing you’ll be hearing. From me, not Sir Elton.

Rock music has always been my favorite genre. I’m a child of the seventies so I guess that makes sense. I have many friendships that began listening to this music. Cruising Main Street on a Friday or Saturday night, windows down and 8 track speakers cranking out the tunes. Singing loud and sometimes dancing around the car at the stop lights. Great memories of great times with great friends.

The song Funeral For A Friend holds special meaning for me today. This morning I was among many who celebrated the life of a dear friend. Richard was a brother in Christ and he made his final journey home. He had a long struggle with illness and finally, thankfully, he found his rest.

There’s a mixed blessing at a funeral you know. Feeling both sadness and joy at the same time. I felt that today. A sadness in the missing of him which we will all feel for a long time and the joy in knowing that he lived his life to the fullest, called all strangers friend and loved his God with all his heart. He was truly a good man. My prayers go up for his family and all of us that were blessed by his friendship.

Today brought back strong emotions of when my wife finished her journey home. Hard to believe that it’s been eighteen months since Barb completed her race on earth and went to Heaven. I miss her still and always will but knowing that she, Richard, and other family and friends are together now in Heaven gives me great comfort and peace. I’ll see them again and that gives me an even greater hope. Death is not the end.

So after today’s memorial, I was back in my apartment and remembered the song Funeral For A Friend. I asked Alexa to play it. In its own rock way, the song, which starts as an instrumental, took me to a place of peace in my mind. It allowed me to flash back to memories of wonderful times. I found joy in playing my air piano and air guitar along with the song. Don’t laugh. I know most of you play air instruments too and let me say we’re all pretty good at it! Rock On!

Anyway, the second half of the song is actually called Love Lies Bleeding. I believe it’s about a romantic breakup if you follow the lyrics. But for me, on this day, that title holds a different meaning.

The main line in the song is ‘Love lies bleeding in my hand’ and today those lyrics took my thoughts to another person who both Barb and Richard knew very well. The person that truly did have love bleeding in his hands. The one person that did what no other could do for a friend and our world. God himself giving his life in our place. ‘The’ Funeral For A Friend.

Tonight as I sit here in my apartment listening to the rain, I’m thankful for the love Barb and I shared. The friendship Richard shared with so many. And the sacrifice made by the One for all of us. Yes, there is joy to be found in a funeral. I felt it today and still do tonight. It will remain.

If you’re on Sawmill Parkway in the days ahead, don’t be surprised if you see me dancing around my car and singing ‘It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside’. Just put your car in park and join me. And be sure to bring your air guitar or piano too.

Rock on my friends and see you down the road….