Friday, June 17, 2022

Playing Real Good For Free

 Who do you admire?  I have a friend named Kevan who plays guitar.  In the summertime, we get together and strum, occasionally writing new tunes for the instrument.  What I admire about Kevan is his focus and concentration.  His lifelong career was in law enforcement, special weapons and tactics.  Because he is fluent in Spanish, he still sometimes teaches "Spanish for Cops" to make a little money even in retirement.  But his real ambition, at this stage of life, is to be a street musician, a busker.  He wants to sit on the corner and play the blues for tips.  

Kevan is totally devoted to this dream.  He has a strict practice routine.  He attends music camps for songwriting.  He studies music theory.  Whereas I have all kinds of pastimes and am not very proficient at any of them, Kevan makes progress at his chosen endeavor in a way that I can only envy and try to emulate.

Here's a song I wrote this past week, in homage.  

Un viejo sentado a lado del camino con su sombrero
Espera dinero sin cuidado en verano como niño
Toca la guitarra por divertimento

Un cansado viejo que conoce la guitarra
Es un estrella que brilla y canta as poemas de mujeres olvidadas
Y enamoradas anticipadas

Por favor, escuche, Señor.  Por favor, un propina mejor!
Por favor, escuche Señorita.  Por favor, llamame tu favorita!

No hay una vida tan benedito como un viejo con su sombrero
A lado del camino en el verano esperando por tu dinero

Por favor, escuche, amigo.  Tocaré la guitarra con brio!

An old man sits by the side of the road, with his hat, waiting for money,
Without worries in the summer, like a child, playing the guitar for amusement.

A tired old man familiar with the guitar Is a star, shining and singing
The poems of forgotten women and anticipated lovers.

Please listen sir. A bigger tip!  Please listen, lady. Call me your favorite!

There is no life so blessed as an old man with his hat
By the side of the road in the summer, waiting for your money.

Please listen, friend. I’ll play the guitar with brio!

Next time you pass that old man or young man, or woman on the street, playing guitar, or violin, or harmonica, won't you stop to listen?  It's their passion, their gift.  When you stop to listen, los ángeles sonreirán.  The angels will smile.  

Thursday, May 5, 2022

What I Learned From The Pandemic

Truthfully, I didn’t learn much from being locked down for two years.  I suspect that I had the virus early on, before it was even on people’s radar back in January of 2020.  After flying through Las Vegas and the Guadalajara airports, we were in Chapala, Mexico, enjoying the warmth and a bit of street food. The symptoms appeared one night in the form of spiking fevers, violent chills and joints aching so terribly that I simply wept with no relief.  I was sick for two days and then it was over.  What did I learn from that?  

Not everything bad that happens occurs for a reason or to teach us a lesson.  I know some people think otherwise.  But I am of the opinion that random stuff messes with us mercilessly, and the evolving mutations of a coronavirus are a prime example of that.  Or were we supposed to learn one lesson from the Delta variant and another from the Omicron?  

For two years, we did witness people behaving well and behaving badly.  In the beginning, folks were hoarding toilet paper.  Conspiracy theories ran rampant.  A public health emergency turned into a political fistfight.  At the same time, nurses and teachers and grocery workers and first responders coped with the stress of high risk jobs, often gracefully and courageously.  Researchers rose to the challenge of producing vaccines in record time, only to find anti-vaxxers refusing to get the jab.

Some took the disruption in routine to re-evaluate life priorities and consider new callings.  Others had to say goodbye to loved ones dying in nursing homes or ICU’s while wearing haz-mat suits.  It was the best of times, it was the worst.

My wife and I have only recently started going to movies and concerts again.  We’re still not ready for any international travel.  It’s not how I planned to spend my retirement.  I don’t feel resentful at all.  But neither do I feel like I’ve grown or been edified or enriched in any way from hitting the pause button on my life.  Mostly I feel tired and two years older, not any smarter or wiser.

Covid, you were a lousy teacher.  

Monday, March 14, 2022

A Riff on Hebrews 11-12

 Faith is the reality of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen.  It was their faith that made our ancestors reach for the heavens.

Because of faith, Noah built the ark and received the rainbow sign.

Because of faith, Abraham left his homeland and set out for a country he had never seen.

Because of faith, Moses left Egypt and Miriam hurled Pharoah’s horse and rider into the sea.  

Because of faith, Joshua circled the city of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.  

Because of faith Rosa sat, Martin marched, and John Lewis knelt to pray.

Because of faith, Mandela persevered, Zelensky held fast.

What else can I say?  There isn’t enough time to tell about all the prophets: Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells and Fanny Lou Hamer; Mohandas Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oscar Romero, and Harvey Milk.  Many were tortured, others beaten, and some chained in jail.  Their faith helped them conquer kingdoms, and because they did right, they were pleasing unto God.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

Lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight the paths for your feet.  Pursue peace.    

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