Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Foreshadows of Dawn

I've been carrying a note I wrote to myself in my purse for the last several weeks. (I've included a capture of it as an attachment.)

The top line says, "What dif can I make," and there is a downward arrow which points to the bottom line, " there a difference to be made?"

The arrow is the key. You see, it represents the passage of time. When I was younger I used to ask myself what a difference I could make. Not in some altruistic, giving sort of way, but also in the differences I could make every day and, also, perhaps sadly, about the difference I might make as an actor or singer or famous guitarist - pipedreams, fantasies, wishes on fishes.

And then the arrow.

"Is there a difference to be made?" is a question I ask of myself frequently. I usually answer yes, the yes that is in action - to love, to cherish, to honor, and sometimes, to hold on. However, from somewhere deep in me, sometimes I hear a 'no.' I heard that no a while back, a month I'd guess, when I was struggling on a piece of prose, working and listening to it, spending hours on it, reflecting deeply and profoundly and... 'no'.  I was overwhelmed by the truth of it.

Short story, long, I listened to it. I thought about that sense of truth I'd felt. I realized, late night, lager in hand, that it was a tired voice, firm, but raspy, weathered, worn out, weakened. A voice whispering retreat, not defeat. A voice, somehow defiant in its despondency. A voice which was weary.

I reached for my vintage Alvarez and played John Prine's "Paradise" and haven't really written much since.

I've been learning new songs, including this one by Guy Clark (which is a must-listen if you had a father, or are one)

"The Randall Knife"

and I've been trying to memorize and rehearse my more popular songs.

"Is that really gonna make a difference?"

A raspy voice from the cellar of my soul calls up, "Yes!"

I can't say how it's making a difference. The boys are home and underfoot most of the time so I play when they are on their laptops playing Wizards101 or or whatever. They hear me, though, and know I am practicing and I suppose that's a good thing.

I play in the late evenings to the frogs and fireflies and hooting owls and cicadas. I sing to the stars and the racing, ebbing summer moon. I sing to my god and your god and my neighbor's god and the gods of our ancestors and the gods yet to come and a harmonic comes back to me that seems, well, right, pure... eternal.

I play sometimes to my technologies but they intimidate me and I don't play well with them. I've tried dozens of times now to record some originals from my CD on my phone so there is a visual archive, a physicality to the memories I am laying down.

The difference being made is, more than likely, that I am learning so much. Just as writing and the dad bloggers scene and crafting a novel and writing bad poems taught me so much about myself, singing and playing is doing it as well, if not better. Honestly, the guitar was my first teacher - besides books - to take me aside and whisper, "There's more, you know." I'd sort of forgotten how much the stories that only music can tell meant and mean to me.

So, short of one post, This Raised Sword, which I wrote in anger and profound sadness, I've been away from the keyboard, which I am sure is evident by the previous several paragraphs. There are a lot of pieces I've ideas for and one just needs to be done but, I keep shying away from it. Hell, before I started this I ironed six shirts just to avoid it. I'm weird like that. I know the voice is getting better, maybe this is a trial run, maybe...

I am well. Thanks for asking. I've been, as I suppose is evident, introspective, which always leads people to ask if I'm alright. "Yes, yes, I'm fine. I just want to sit in the yard and drink and watch the years go by." Folks think that's a weird answer, I doubt you will.

I see your son is doing well and your attitude remains positive. Congrats on the temporary work, sometimes shrugging and saying "what the fuck" isn't the worst plan.

Peace to you, I'm still looking for mine, but, it's a great journey.

With best regards,


It's that damned arrow, that's where the stories are... and, I'm glad I finally figured out what that note was for.


I wrote the above in an email to my friend Brian Sorrell.  Ya'll know I don't usually use real names here, especially for the ancillary characters, except when I do.  Brian is a writer and a teacher and philosopher, he is a repairer of bikes and a changer of diapers - or nappies as he might say.  He is a weaver of intricate tales and an unraveler of simple ones.  He's smart and witty and fresh and, first and foremost for me, he is my friend.  He has a beautiful and compelling web presence on his blog, Write On.  Go there someday when you have some time and give it to him, his words are worthy of it, I promise.


Why am I sharing this private note with you all?  Well, not to say I am beginning a late-life career as a singer/songwriter, although part of me wishes for that.  And not to say I'm quitting this gig, although for a while that seemed to be the course I wanted.  Also, I'm not sharing all this to say I'm going to become a major presence in the writing community, dazzling you with premier posts - topical clever and important pieces bound for virality, although it'd be nice to have more than forty people stop by my little corner here any given day.


You know, when I first heard that voice say 'no', I was, honestly, I little scared, a little ashamed and a lot sad.  I thought it was another "ending" and I am very weary of endings.  But, the important lesson that they teach alludes me - they are always false.  When something ends it has time to rest, get stronger and tell you what can be learned.  I can't seem to remember that.

What seem like endings are often just rest stops, a pause to refresh and reflect, and... prepare for the journey - not a new journey, but the same one that trails behind you and winds and wanders ahead of you.

Alright then.  I'm back, I guess, for now.  I've a pile of obscure notes - not unlike the on that started all this today - full of ideas and stories.  I've pictures in the camera, baseball tales to tell.  I've words of advice for you and you and, always, always... me.

I'll try to get back on schedule and post on Fridays, and perhaps more often.  I'll get "other-one-me" to start things up again on the FB page and I'll rustle up some "... from the backseat..." offerings.   I fear you've forgotten my little porch here, forgotten the times you've been before, forgotten the conversations and hopes and dreams past.  Well, I'll tell ya what, come back at the end of the week.  My voice feels strong again, the heaviness that I perceived as an ending is lifting, and I see sunsets for what they are, a precursor to sunrises, the foreshadows of dawn.

From Marci's "... ... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ... "

"Lightening can be both pretty and dangerous ... like Minnie Mouse."

I've always found Minnie a little creepy...

Thanks for coming around again, remember the porch door is always unlocked, come by anytime, poke around, you might find something you left, or thought was over.

I've written on endings before in "Bottle Buddies and Roses or There's Always Another Door" and "Two Images, Two Hours (or Three Images, Five Hours)" and "I'm Afraid I'll Forget" and, finally, "The Elements of a Post."

As always, peace.  See ya real soon, alright?

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