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….

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….