Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Can We Talk?

Though I have stayed at a Holiday Inn once, I’ve never thought of myself as a professional anything. Even when I earned a pay check and could have legitimately claimed I was in the middle of a career - I never thought of myself as anything other than me just being what I do. 

Like it or not, sometimes you have to meet things face on to realize the truth of a matter. 

My epiphany on this came when my granddaughter recently interviewed me for an assignment. She has just entered graduate school. In a few short years we’ll be able to call her ‘Dr. Olivia’. 

[Allow me pause here for a proud moment to gloat.] 

For the assignment she had to interview a geriatric (that would be me) and write a lengthy report, the object being to humanize an old person. I’m a bonafide Boomer so my generation, now entering our retirement years, will likely make up a large part of her clientele for a few years after she becomes a physical therapist thus I was the perfect subject for her report. 

Plus, I have a lot of human history to tell. 

While she was learning all about my past seventy years, I was forced to dig out some vintage information - growing up, family of five in a two bedroom one bath house in the American boom years after WW2, then the hippy years, the Vietnam war protest years, the photo of me in my senior year book the moment I found out JFK was shot - all the little dots connected to one another, this leading to that, that leading to something else - all of which the unearthing caused some serious introspection for me later and into the next few days. 

Bragging makes me squirm, so when I say I have done a lot, I’m not boasting. I’m revealing that I am a nutcase who is driven to do things - to stay immersed in a learning curve of some kind or other - always jumping into the middle and working my way out to both ends, which, over time, has naturally added up to a lot of odd, sometimes unrelated, experiences. Frankly, I didn’t mind telling Olivia my history, in this case, but it’s not something I usually do because, for one thing, who would believe me anyway? It’s almost embarrassing to see that look of incredulity on people’s faces. 

The timing was interesting, though, as this exercise came at a critical juncture for me because lately I’ve found myself swept up into a rite of passage that’s forced me to admit there’s so much more behind me than in front of me and even worse, realizing that none of it matters. Not really. Everything I learned, my assorted accumulated knowledge, my crazy quilt biography, isn’t worth the paper Olivia’s report will be written on. 

Except. Except for the humans who are here because God graced me with them in spite of my lack of skill set in parenting. My kids and I sort of grew up together - working our way out to both ends. 

All this is a rambling lead up to why I am blogging about this. 

For more than fifty years (not including child raising) of doing, creating, making do with the limited materials, tools and skills I had to express the various forms of the art of my life, I admit I loved best my guitar and writing songs that no one ever heard but me. I kept all my favorite songs in a blue cloth binder. When I could no longer play guitar because of my old hands, I gave the binder to my oldest grandson, Hayes, who is a multi-tasking artist in his own right. When I discovered I could play ukulele, I asked him to let me have the binder back for awhile. 

I think that’s what did it. 

That was the thing that unlocked old dusty bins of memories and set me thinking and sorting, trying to make peace with what A E Housman referred to as the land of lost content. 

There are no words to explain to a young person how it feels to realize you are officially an elder, a geriatric. But this I know, life is a carousel, goes round and round and round. We leave to those who follow us so we have to try to tell them if nothing else so that one day they say - oh, now I understand. 

Because, it’s just the kind of hairpin I am, regardless of the handicap of advancing age, that I can’t not do my art - as jack-legged and amateur as it might be - so I took one set of lyrics I penned forty years ago and made a video. 

For Him,