I’ve had a lot of time to myself this week. After writing the epic trilogy that was both a labor of love, and a classic example of the OCD I suffer when writing and editing my political posts (4000 words took two whole days) I decided I needed to do some things around the house.
I hate house chores. I just do, and even plugging in some music and just banging away at them is torture. But that’s just what I did, and it gave me some time to clear my head.
For as long as I can remember, music has been a huge part of my life. I majored in it in college, even though I never finished, but since about 1989 I’ve had a pretty distinct soundtrack. Sure, I’ve picked up new music since then, but there are some constants that I’ve kept around and that remind me of different times and places. It’s been kinda cool.
For me, long-term memories are usually associated with painful things. This week, while some of those came up, I found myself remembering the silly, funny, and interesting things that the music I’ve managed to keep around brings rushing back into the forefront of my mind.
I’ve always been a sentimental fool. Not really sure why, I just am. Over the years I’ve tried to mask that sentimentality with a touch of gonzo unfiltered access to the very first thing that pops into my head, appropriate or not, to any willing, and some unwilling listeners. It’s a way to shield myself from the things in my head that often send me into a self-destructive, sad place, where nothing ever quite goes the way I want it to.
I think everyone does this to a certain degree. We make these emotional walls to keep us safe from others, and more often, ourselves. We create these pre-programmed responses to situations that don’t require thought or reflection, and plow ahead with what has to be done by whenever or whatever. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing but I know that at a certain point, you start losing some of yourself to these programmed responses, and start turning into something you don’t even recognize.
Sometimes, it’s good to just let the self-reflection wash over you and sweep you out wherever it takes you. I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff, though I don’t write about much of it. Most of the time it’s politics, but not always. Sometimes it’s just random things from my past, or loose plans for my future involving things I want to do, places I want to go, people I want to meet (usually not specific people, but something more like an archetype of people). I don’t know if my thoughts are evenly distributed between the past, the future and the now, but I would guess it’s more about now and tomorrow.
The past is that past and it can’t be changed. Tomorrow can, and even though I get these pangs of past that wash over me, I keep looking for a better future, hoping that I can make some small impact before fate, or God, or whatever, takes me from this physical plane.
But just because the past can’t be changed, doesn’t mean we can learn and grow from it. The past holds the culmination of all the spiritual and intellectual knowledge, we as a species have cobbled together. We wouldn’t be where we are if not for the past, and while the past holds a lot of pain, it also holds insights into the future for us as individuals, and as a species.
Monday is Memorial Day, a holiday originally established here in the US to remember the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. For as long as I can remember, the Memorial Day weekend has also been the unofficial beginning of summer. In Little Rock, where I spent my adolescence, Memorial Day weekend was celebrated at Riverfest, a 3 day festival that featured live music, and that I worked for several years before moving here to Memphis. Even though the closing concert had a patriotic medley by performed the ASO, and fireworks display, I never had much awareness of what Memorial Day was all about until sometime in my mid-twenties.
It was at that time that people I knew from High School started coming home from their enlistments in the military to attend college. Some planned to go back after school and serve as an officer, some had other plans, but many of them had a different view of Memorial Day. Sure we had cookouts and parties and all that stuff over the weekend, but Memorial Day, Monday, was a time for them to give thanks to all that those who fought and died for our country. It was a time of celebration and reflection of the people who help us maintain this grand experiment we call a Republic.
So as you celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, take a moment, after the coals have cooled on the grill, and the friends and neighbors have gone home, to reflect and give thanks for the unselfish sacrifice that so many have given over the years to help ensure that you have all the rights and liberties you have today. As General George S. Patton said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
Without them, America would be a very different place. Cheers, and have a great weekend.