We used to make plans.

As a kid, I’d schedule a play date weeks in advance. These days, even when after confirming a reptile festival the day before, I still assume a 50-50 chance my friend bails. When he does, 8am day-of, I’m annoyed. I’m confused. How much is him and how much is changing culture?

I’m not here to tell you, “Something is lost.” It is, but that’s not the point. Instead, it’s simply that some things have changed:

  • We’ve lost certainty and confidence.
  • We’ve gained flexibility and opportunism.
  • We’ve lost reliability and comfort.
  • We’ve gained the more frequent upgrades.
  • We’ve lost security in friendships.
  • We’ve gained the freedom to follow our whims.

If people still lock down plans, I don’t know them. My friends might be outliers, or perhaps the Bay Area’s incessant climbing keeps everyone on the lookout for upgrades. Or maybe this experience is a worldwide phenomenon. Faster communication means more rapidly changing circumstances.

No matter the reason, I must adjust. It’s a tough lesson to learn. Negative punishment can easily become mis-associated. In this case, to self-blame:

  • “What did I do that made him cancel?”

or, worse,

  • “What’s wrong with me that made him cancel?”

I try not to see it in those ways. I try to see it as the new world order. I think that’s accurate, but I’m not sure. Are you? 

Paul Simon

We don’t see musical legends to hear music; we come to view the divine. Headphones are better for music. I saw Paul so I could think, “That’s the closest to God I’ve ever seen.”

He opened with America, which stabs my chest with recollections of love for someone who disappears for months at a time. Then came hit after hit that even your kids would know.

He didn’t sing Bridge over Troubled Water or Mrs. Robinson – both #1s. “Maybe he doesn’t want to sing them without Garfunkel.” But he sang The Sound of Silence, and that was a Garfunkel song. (And anyway, it’s not about the music).

His solo pieces strip the man down to emotional expression. His body drops away and Paul becomes a voice, guitar, and poetry.

Can we substitute in a bad rendition of those two #1s instead of the string-backed songs he played that no one knew? Does he care about my opinion? Should he?

There goes a man who achieved his purpose. He lived a satisfying, accomplished life. What more is there?

How can my writing impact as many lives as his did, and still provide the high of thousands making pilgrimage en masse to realize I’m not God?

Just because it never happened doesn’t mean it isn’t true

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when my faithful Roadtrip Companion challenged me. “Compose the opening paragraph,” he said to me, “of completely fictional history book chapter.” I did. Here’s what never happened:

Released from bondage, but no longer welcome in the land they once ruled, the exiled Klimbaugh people went west, toward present-day Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Their search for religious acceptance would frequently be met by hostility toward their unusual practices, most famously in the Great Hangings of Dushanbe. The Klimbaugh’s movements can be traced until 1400 BCE, after which most scholars agree that the pressures of their hostile surroundings, un-arable land, and lack of social acceptance drove the final vestiges of this once-great kingdom to assimilation or death.

Ode to a keychain

Keychain,

Tiny desire for identity

In a cookie-cutter world.

 

But this one’s “so you,”

Just like thousands

Have thought before.

 

Original–truly novel–

Frightens the close-minded…

And we’re all close-minded.

So we stick to

The same safe deviance

As everyone else.

 

But it brings you joy.

What more do you seek?

What more is there?

It’s only two dollars.

Just buy it already.