The large white flakes fell outside the dining room windows a day before the official start of Spring, leaving the backyard, the neighborhood, and many across the northeast blanketed in a fresh coat of snow.
Bob Dylan’s gravely voice sang that “Times, They are a Changin’,” as my son sat, propping himself up on all fours atop a white quilted blanket made by one of his grandmothers.
Before Dylan was Paul Simon with “Kathy’s Song,” both making me lose myself in the sight of this little man now getting prepped for bath time.
Times, they are a changin’ indeed, and I don’t quite know why I can’t shake it. My entire life, I’ve thought so much about the passage of time, not necessarily living in the moment nearly as much as I think I should have.
When I was a very little kid, I took a field trip to a museum. There, even at an elementary age, I was fascinated by a series of paintings by Thomas Cole called “The Voyage of Life,” displaying the various stages we each go through, up against the backdrop of an ever darkening sky as our life continues. I’m not saying that’s what it did it, but it was certainly a series of images that have stayed with me to this day.
How did my parents do it? How do they handle even now, having children who are once these little cherub-faced angels, only to have them grow up to become people?
As bath time progresses and Dylan switches over to Billy Joel bellowing out the lament of a Piano Man, the snow continues to blanket the yard, like it has years before and will for years to come.
I don’t know where any of us will be as I look out to that fallen snow and think of the years that will follow, but I know I’ll look back and feel that they went by too fast.
Will I see my reflection in the glass against the sheet of white and see a life lived or a life spent philosophizing on how quickly it all changes?
Maybe a little of both. Who knows?
I hope it’s a life that found a balance between the two, savoring the moments to their fullest because of an awareness that they won’t last forever. I truly hope so.
Only time will tell.
It could be the earlier (some clichés would say simpler) times evoked by radio, or maybe it’s the ‘theatre of the mind’ that I find so much more creative than having someone spell it out for us in a film or TV program.
Whatever it may be, it transports me to a time before every minute of our day was accounted for, before everyone was constantly ‘plugged in,’ when families would sit around the radio together for their news and their entertainment.
Yet, it is modern technology that allows me to take this step back in time. I downloaded two apps to my smartphone recently, one called Radio Spirits and the other, Vintage Radio Lite. Both were absolutely free.
Each day, Radio Spirits has two radio programs, sometimes a comedy, sometimes a mystery, you never know, from the Golden Age of radio. I love that randomness. It’s like when audiences tuned in and what was on that night was on. Some nights you’ll want to listen, some nights, it’s a show you’re just not interested in.
Vintage Radio Lite is more of an on-demand service. You can search through their catalog of hundreds, if not thousands of programs in a myriad of genres, cue one up, and listen away, complete with original commercials.
I’ve always been a fan of old radio shows, listening to radio dramas on my radio Walkman on public broadcasting Sunday night in elementary school, having stumbled upon them by accident. As a teen, I discovered old cassette tapes of The Shadow radio programs, and in recent years, I’ve often been found with a CD of The Shadow or old Superman broadcasts in my car for a dark, rainy car drive.
With these apps now on my phone, it’s actively created a new type of family time in our house. It’s not an everyday thing, but there’s plenty of times where we don’t feel like watching television, but would like something on in the background. So, we ‘tune in’ via the app, and as we eat our dinner, listen to the phone/radio and chuckle to the likes of Fibber McGee and Molly, Our Miss Brooks, or the Alan Young Show. I’m also quite partial to the Jack Benny Show, and, as I said, any time Orson Welles played The Shadow.
My sister-in-law sometimes jokes with us that our son will be confused as to what era he grew up in with our love of old movies and radio, etc, etc. While I don’t think it’ll be that bad, Meg and I hope that growing up around these things will give him an appreciation for what’s come before, and make him realize just how far things have come. It’s important to us not to lose the past, but preserve it and honor it, as we move forward to the future. We hope he will do the same.
A little modern technology, letting us appreciate and preserve the past. Pretty neat.
Call me crazy, call me weird, but there’s just something about them that just gets me in a completely, ready-to-create type of mood.
It could be the whole subconscious notion that rain means ‘staying indoors’ or maybe it’s just harder to sit down and do something when it’s bright and sunny out.
Give me a good rainy day, though, and I’ll pontificate, I’ll think, I’ll generate ideas and just make a full productive day out of it.
When I was in college there were so many days spent sitting by the window of the cafe, the sound of raindrops tapping against the glass, cup of coffee or tea in hand, just scrawling story after story out onto paper.
I reflect, I self-motivate, I create, I cross things off that to-do list and I just feel good about myself and the world.
Hand me an umbrella, a hat and a trench coat, and who knows, maybe I’ll swing around the lamp post and belt you out a Gene Kelly tune while I’m at it. 🙂
I had a very jarring moment recently that out of nowhere caused me to start thinking about mortality. Notably, my own.
Throughout the course of my life, I’ve rarely given it thought, or if I did, only in dark hours of sadness I’d care not to revisit. For the most part, though, I’ve been susceptible to what many youth are – that feeling that you will go on forever; that there’s always tomorrow; always next month; always a few years down the road.
It allowed me to cultivate an ongoing sense of forward vision, always looking to what project, what script, what new story, what task, was coming down the line that could be tackled or scheduled in.
There was always time.
Then, on a recent weekend, I was sitting with my son on my lap, now almost eight months old. He smiled at me and I looked into his eyes and realized, this moment I’m experiencing was one my father and me no doubt had, and his father before him and so on and so forth.
It was in that simple moment of a smile that I realized this is the circle of life at work. This little guy is the next generation. He will follow me as I followed my father, etc. But in that moment, staring into his beautiful eyes and having him smile back at me, I suddenly realized, truly, for the first time, I am not going to live forever. That someday, he might be bouncing a baby upon his knee and I may be older, and eventually as that circle continues, I may no longer be here.
It was an eye opener. I wish I had something quite profound to wrap this all in a bow with, but I don’t. In fact, I’m still processing the feelings it brought about.
What I do know, though, is that it just proved as one more example to me to get up and live life. There are things we can’t always control. Unless we’re independently wealthy, you know what, we have to get up and go to work each day. We have to do housework, we have to do grocery shopping, we have to repair things when they’re broken.
But that makes the time in between all the more precious. Whether it’s getting out, going for a walk and experiencing the world around you, whether it’s sitting under a tree with a good book, or whether it’s just telling your parents or your child you love them and spending time with them, DO IT.
Despite what you think, you won’t have the chances forever.