70 – the new 69

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

HOT, no, are you kidding, I’m not that hot.

Why is it that while I’m driving down the interstate thoughts come to me so clearly and inspiration so invigorating and yet once I sit to put pen to paper, so to speak, it becomes painfully difficult. Inspired by song lyrics or random thoughts my mind creates fantasies and extensions of my past and future life that flow like wine from a gallon jug. Often times they are equal in quality to what might come in a gallon jug but other times there is that rare bottle that might mature into a valuable vintage.

(After an inspiring drive to Wal-Mart) I have a t-shirt that says, “To be old and wise, one must first be young and stupid”. Pity the old and stupid. Not to be too cynical or condescending, but unfortunately there appear to be a number of both in the world. Do we really gain wisdom with age? Maybe it’s just the knowledge that comes with experiences of life and the ability to apply it. The last part certainly the most important and I don’t claim to have a lock on that. Now that I think of it, the knowledge isn’t automatic either. Too often we have experiences from which we gain no knowledge or worse, an interpretation of the experience that is counterproductive. That of course is completely subjective, Rush Limburger not withstanding. Enough waxing.

I am writing this mostly to express my gratitude for the experiences I have had and the opportunity to continue into the near future. Not to be morbid, but the reality is that the number of years I have left are certainly not the same as I might have expected even a few years ago, though we all know there might be a truck with my name on it coming down the road most any time. Humor me for a moment and think about the year you were born. How much do you know about that time? It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, the world has changed dramatically. And yet it hasn’t.

Speaking of trucks on the road, I am currently working out indoors to get in shape for another cycling season. It will start earlier this year. As you read this I am in Mexico celebrating my birthday and getting in a few hot laps around the resort parking lot. Then the first week of April I will be heading for Lafayette LA. for Cycle Zydaco, a 4 day bike tour through Cajun country. “Laissez les bons temps rouler” Given the climate change that isn’t occuring there is a good chance it will be warm enough after that trip that I can begin riding in Kansas City. Of course what would a summer of cycling be without another Ragbrai. This year it starts in Council Bluffs and will be one of the shortest and flatest.

What ever happened to grandpa (D.S.) Skinner’s double barrel shotgun? Do you have thoughts like this track through your brain from time to time. In today’s information saturated lifestyle it is interesting (I would hesitate to say intriging) when thoughts like this seep past all the user names and passwords. Not to mention all the apps and Siri who can tell me how to get to Trader Joe’s or a movie or give me the name of the President of Uzbecki, beki, beki, bekistan stan. Of course I have to keep up with all my friends on Facebook.

Despite their generally ill-conceived notions of what the country used to be, I sometimes understand at least one of the things the Tea Party folks want back, simplicity. This is where their linguistic relativism comes into play. We see it in our daily life. (speaking of daily, don’t you just love the Daily Show & Stephen Colbert?) Our/their vocabulary reflects the difference in how we use and change the definition of certain words. For example, to those who subscribe to Fox News as their source of information I am a much despised liberal or even considered a socialist. Conversely I tend to label anyone who voted for Romney as bigoted or at least a fool out of touch with reality as most all of the other Republican candidates were. Knute, Rick, the other Rick, Michele, Herman. Take your pick. At the same time, I don’t consider myself well enough informed (or educated) to understand in depth the country’s political, economic, social, diplomatic, religious, military…you name it…issues/concerns. That doesn’t keep me from having an opinion, as I’m sure you are well aware.

Where was I,,,? Ah yes…simplicity. It’s certainly no secret that some form of meditation is a big help. Not to go all Guru on you, but we all need to find a way to calm and center ourselves. In the past few years I have found cycling. There is something about the circular motion of peddling and the relative quiet of riding down the road that provides a time for contemplation and clarity.. Bottom line, we can find simplicity and peace in the things we do every day. Or as my Coach Carla (catch her on Channel 5) would say, keep your attention on your intention. Any way, that is about as close as I get to being spiritual.

I realize that I am rambling. Lets call it literary license. I suppose the original intent of this commentary was to reflect on reaching the age of 70. From here it seems a long way back to 60 but as the greeting card I saw says, 70 is the new 69. Hey, I’ll take whatever I can get. Some of you have observed, as I have, that one of the real freedoms (not to be confused with the NRA and the second ammendment freedom) of getting older is becoming less and less intimidated by fear. Not necessarily the Glock in your face kind of fear but fear of a more subtle nature. I feel freer to tell the truth about how I feel. However this should not be confused with saying things that are offensive, demeaning and/or socially inappropriate. Of that you can be the judge…and I am at times guilty as charged.

I can’t close without mentioning Matt. There is still a very large hole in my heart that no amount of time or rationalizing will mend. I feel certain that several of you reading this feel the same. I learned several lessons from Matt. The most important one was to never deny who you are. I can’t count the number of times I heard him say,

“I am who I am”. Amen Bro!

I like these guys:


“I’m rested and I’m ready to begin”

I was originally going to end here but given a few more days ‘till I leave for Mexico decided on a post script.

I’ve admired song writers for most of my life. From time to time I have tried to write in that form but failed miserably. (some may say failed at writing in general) Delivering a message musically strikes an emotional cord with me like no other form of language. I’m sure I could fill several pages if I began quoting from some of my favorite songs from over the years. Growing up I remember mom listening to country music on the radio. It wasn’t appealing to me at the time but upon reflection I can see why it was to her. My early teen years were filled with stuff as diverse as Joan Bias (my first 33 1/3 album) to Bo Diddly (had all his albums) Never owned an Elvis record. This mix of Rock and Roll with Blues and Folk was what I settled on. 1964 brought on The Beatles as well as Bob Dylan. I won’t boar you with a litany of all the artists I have enjoyed since then except to note Randy Newman. The last several years I have favored the more folk/Texas country/New Grass stuff. Or as Carla sez, all those guys with nasal whiney voices like Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, and The Avet Brothers. I’m still a loyal fan of Mark Knophler. My favorite rock guitarist and a fantastic lyricist.

I recall reading a list of things not to give people for Christmas, a picture of yourself was number one. It didn’t say anything about 70th Birthdays. BTW, I do not color my hair thanks to dad’s good genes, although it is getting thin on top, but only a small comb over at this point. I refuse to go the crew cut route.

I was reflecting on the recent snowstorm and the fact that I spent four and a half hours stuck in two different snow drifts on I-470/71 Highways. It was both humbling and a little taste of reality. I will admit a tinge of fear crept in as I assessed my ability to free myself. Door deep in a snow drift with your grandson is an unfortunate time to reflect on life’s vulnerabilities. Tobin promised not to repeat all the F words.

Hasta que nos encontramos de nuevo mis amores.

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