We’re talkin’ about “things” this month...
Ya know, I was just sitting here remembering back when life and living it wasn’t just a matter of having to replace or repair everything.
When we were kids, everything was an improvement for us... a step up in the right direction. We always seemed to gain something even if we didn’t actually do anything to deserve it. We might have been given toys, a bicycle, a dog. Anything we were presented with was something that enriched our lives and added to what we had before.
A lot of us soon picked up paper routes, mowed lawns, shoveled snow, washed dishes in restaurants, baled hay, pumped gas, or anything else we could do to improve our lots in life, all in the name of getting more of what we thought we needed and wanted.
As we matured, most of us eventually had to land real jobs to earn enough money to purchase new (or better) things we considered essential like a car, a motorcycle, a house and the stuff we needed to keep in it... furniture, tools, appliances, and whatnot. That kept up throughout most of our lives as we acquired more and more “things” including various items that may not have been essential, but desired nonetheless... everything from guitars to collectible doo-dads. I know a guy who collected knives. He had hundreds and hundreds of ‘em. And every time he got another one, he was like a little kid with a new toy.
When you were young, ALL of what you continued gathering about you was something new, or at least it was new to you, and it all seemed to be an upgrade from what ya had (IF you had anything resembling it in the first place) to something better... something more. In fact, sometimes when you got something that ya never had before, you might have felt that you previously lacked that thing without even realizing it and subconsciously you were glad that unknown need was fulfilled.
Then something strange happened... you felt that, for the most part, you had finally acquired just about everything you thought you “needed”. You started to drive on past yard sales, ya quit going to auctions, you even started ignoring advertisements. If you were lucky, and if ya had any kind of plan going on, you might have realized that you’ve reached that point when you didn’t really want any more “stuff”.
And THEN just when you thought you were content with having everything you wanted for the first time in your life, “maintenance” starts to become an issue. One day you realize most (if not all) of the stuff you get only replaces the stuff you already had because the old stuff broke down, wore out, or became impractical to fix. That’s when you find that the stuff ya had to buy to replace your old stuff... isn’t better stuff... or even as good as your old stuff! Instead of getting a sense of fulfillment, you often became somewhat disappointed because that sense of “gain” dissipated into frustration from always trying to recover what ya already had in the first place.
In a different way, the same is true of some of the things you think you’ve accomplished... sorta like mowing the yard: You might get a sense of pride from finishing it as you admire how good it looks for a few days. You bask in the knowledge that your wife and family will appreciate it, and you’re glad that the neighbors won’t be looking at your lawn and shaking their heads... then you realize you’ll just be mowing the damned yard again in a few MORE days! Once again, instead of feeling gratified, you’re feeling like there’s no gain... you’re just expending effort to maintain, just like washing the dishes, your car, your clothes, or taking a shower (except taking a shower really DOES make you feel better physically... even if it IS only for a little while).
Anyway, what started me thinking about all this is when the exhaust on my car suddenly got REALLY loud as I was cruising down a snow-covered road yesterday (I’m writing this in early March). I immediately assumed it was gonna at least end up being a muffler and probably a pipe and hangers, perhaps a converter, maybe even a cracked exhaust manifold. I’m sure it will cost at least a few hundred bucks and the hassle of taking it to a shop because my days of crawling under a car in ANY kind of weather have long passed. (And since it’s my only winter transportation, I just hope I don’t get busted in the meantime.)
My first thought after making an appointment at my mechanic’s was, ‘That will take care of that and everything will be better.’ But it won’t be. It will be the same as it was before... except I’ll be out hundreds of bucks.
If I went out and bought a new car every year like some people do, this wouldn’t be happening. Then EVERYTHING on my car would always be ship-shape. It would even smell new instead of like an old ash-tray as mine does. But then of course IF I decided to keep one for a few years because I got sick of laying out the big bucks, the circle will just begin all over again. As life goes on, so does the wear and tear of living it. Neal Young had it right when he sang, “Rust Never Sleeps”.
Now, don’t get me wrong... none of this is really depressing to me. In spite of my nickname (which has nothing to do with me being a “bummer”), I usually concentrate on the best in things. If life hands me just a few lemons, I can make gallons of lemonade. Once you acknowledge and understand that everything you have and accomplish isn’t permanent, THAT understanding becomes an important realization, an “epiphany” of sorts... and you learn to cope with the fact that everything we are, and everything we have, is only temporary... which makes life and all about it that much more precious and important to appreciate in the moment.
But I’m still gonna be out some bucks for that damned exhaust! LOL!
By the way, that guy I was talking about earlier... the one who collected knives? Well, he branched out and started collecting swords, battle axes, pikes... any weapon with a blade. Finally one day he thought to himself, ‘What the hell am I doing? This is nuts!’ They were kept in boxes, display cases, stashed away in closets and drawers, hanging on the walls. He was literally surrounded by things with sharp edges and he started to be very careful not to piss off his woman (who he knew could become excitable at times!)
Sometimes there’s a fine line between collecting something and “hoarding”, and he realized he had become a hoarder. His family talked him into speaking to someone about it and with a lot of introspection he finally sold his entire collection and took his old lady on vacation with the money. He realized he had lost the thrill of collecting knives and was told by his shrink that he’d never get any satisfaction from continuing simply because when you become obsessed with anything, people, money, politics, things in general... you’re never satisfied by it. Also once any thrill is gone... well, it’s just plain gone. At least he got some pleasure developing his knife and blade collection while he was into it, and it DID earn him some cash eventually, but I doubt what he received for it came anywhere near the many hours, and all the money, he had invested.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s bounce on over to how great the weather has become...
Isn’t the month of May incredible? Though I’m not there yet, YOU are! (And isn’t this publishing time-warp thing messed up?)
EVERY month has something wonderful about it, but May is when nature goes apeshit when it comes to beautiful! We can actually feel it getting warmer each day. Flowers start blooming. Gardens begin to grow. Even the trees become full and green with leaves, and sometimes it seems they start talking to you if you listen hard enough (and ya got a good buzz on!)
That rush of air when you’re taking a ride allows you to smell everything that’s going on around you as you slice through it on a warm day. On a day like that I’m often reminded of the song, “Daydream” written by John Sebastian of the Loving Spoonful. He sang: “I’m blowin’ the day to take a walk in the sun, and fall on my face on somebody’s new mown lawn!” Which is what I always want to do whenever I ride past a freshly cut yard (don’t ya love that smell?) But doing that could end up being embarrassing and might cause a boatload of trouble, particularly if it’s a stranger’s lawn (and if ya got a good buzz on).
That’s twice in this month’s column I’ve quoted songs. Speaking of that...
I think most of us can agree that the lyrics to songs, whether they’re classic rock, country, romantic torch songs, party anthems, whatever, lend themselves to quoting because they can express the thoughts you’ve had about everything in life, even if you’ve never personally thought about putting them into words until you’ve heard them sung by someone else.
It seems that when the right kind of music is added to those lyrics, that combination takes the dryness out of the poetry and enriches the words with so much feeling and interpretation that ya gotta think the writer and/or singer was talking specifically to YOU, even if it’s just the MC5 screaming, “KICK OUT THE JAMS BROTHAS AND SISTAS !"
Well, I gotta go for this month kids. You folks “Get your motors runnin’... head out on the highway” and...