61, older, maybe wiser, certainly smellier

Once more unto the breach!!

So hereI am on the cusp of completing yet another lap around the sun. 61 laps down; who knows how many there are to go. The recurring theme in most commentaries on 2020 is along the lines of “what a year it’s been?” As we each sort out the wheat from the chaff in our own lives, I find myself looking at 2020 with a curious sense of not wanting to just automatically write it off as a crap year. 

Last year I marked my 60 laps with “60 things I have learned”; I thought of doing that process again but decided that I might just muse for a bit over the year that was & see where my musings take me.

So here is my take on where 2020 took me, and what it taught me.

Two new knees are better than one;  

After a workplace injury in 2017, the powers that be decided that I had suffered enough and that it was time to get my right knee replaced. This happened just before the dreaded Covid monster took hold of the planet. Most of January saw me hobbling around like quasi modo as walking more than 100 metres was proving to be a challenge of growing difficulty.
The pain of the operation, soon gives way to the freedom of being able to walk again. Couple that with the fact that while people everywhere were struggling to find ways to survive financially, I was on workers comp for much of the year, I would have to say that I felt fortunate & humbled by this experience.

Covid covid covid

What a whirlpool of pain, misunderstanding, trauma, human compassion, brilliant minds, misinformation, fear mongering, abdication of responsibility, courageous leadership…… 

My own journey through covid started out with my usual cynicism along the lines of “oh that could never happen here”. Like everyone else though, the weight of what was coming soon became apparent. My reflection on it though is more centered on watching people that I thought I knew, respond to the growing pandemic. Whilst it’s tempting, I’m not going to point the finger at people; they are flawed as I am flawed. What I will say is that one thing Covid taught me is there are people that are in my circle that I will view a little differently (cautiously) from now on. Oh and after 5 sticks up the nose, I can honestly say that I still don’t have covid and that the few seconds of discomfort was a small price to pay

Music Music everywhere

Right now, I am currently working on 5 different albums/projects for various friends & colleagues. This includes my own album which is sitting in the “long overdue” column. I love the challenge that each of these projects brings. I really struggled for motivation during Covid; partly because of the issues that isolation imposed upon being able to collaborate. Once that changed, of course everyone was busy in their on worlds again (as was I) and so getting people in to finish off sessions had a different set of problems. 

It’s a great privilege being trusted with the language of peoples hearts, and turning that into beautiful music. I’ve heard some really stirring stuff this year (John, Theresa, Marky!). The biggest musical challenge at the moment is with local birth Doula (and friend) Julie. She has written 24 reflections to help a birthing mother journey through the experience. She has asked if I can come up with a piece of music for each reflection; so that’s 24 pieces of music, hopefully each one linked to/reflecting the written/spoken word; arranged, recorded and mixed. It’s a huge task. (One of the pieces is called quiet; how do you write a piece of music that reflects that???)

Curiously one place that music currently isn’t taken me is to church; after nearly 20 years   involvement at River Valley Church, Bernadette & I are having a break from all things church for the time being. There’s been no falling out; they are fine people; they are our people. Something needed to give & we both felt pretty strongly that the current commitment that we had to RVC was unsustainable. We just needed a break so that we could re-direct some creative energy into other areas. 

Church

The world is full of good people. Some of them even go to church. I’ve seen some of the things that the church has stood up for over the past 12 months; particularly USA evangelicals. When you struggle to see the connection to the teachings of Christ, and what you see instead smells suspiciously of greed, power, celebrity and lust (just to name a few), then as the spaniard in “The Princess Bride” famously said, “It’s time to go back to the beginning”. 

I love the church; much of my adult professional life has been given over to serving in one capacity or another; when church is done well, it’s an amazing thing, a great & positive force for change in the local community. When it’s done poorly….

Parkinsons

I still have it; it’s progressing slowly as far as the disease is concerned; as far as I am concerned it’s a pain in the arse and it can piss off just as soon as possible. 🙂

It’s funny when your body starts doing things that were never on your horizon. It’s a funny old thing watching your body twitch uncontrollably. There are days when it feels like my left arm has lead weights attached. The odd thing is that I have never been so busy musically speaking and yet every session on guitar has a battle royale raging away as I struggle for the finesse and touch that I used to take for granted. Now I cherish every take that I think is OK, and I nod with new found reverence and respect for a couple of friends who have battled this kind of thing all their lives (Richie, Stevie)

My wife, my children, their partners, my granddaughter, my 3 brothers, my 2 sisters and their respective wives/husbands, all of their children and their partners and kids, all of the sisters of my wife, their husbands, & their kids and partners, my cousins & extended family, my close friends, people who I loved very much & they shuffled off 

Just a short title for this section. This year of isolation reinforced one immutable truth; we need each other; we weren’t designed to live in isolation. All of those names above and a whole more are the reality that covid could never steal; that these are more important to me than anything else. 

Life is good

Today I went for a 20k bike ride with Bernie. Tomorrow I get to spend the evening with my kids & most of their partners (AND my grand daughter). Later in the week I will be back in my happy space creating music. Early next year I will release my 5th album. Hopefully I will keep company with people who will patiently love me warts & all and teach me important life lessons as we do life together. 

Life is good; the neurologist that I see always reinforces this. The people that I get to do life with reinforce that. What I did today reinforces that. The fact that I know that Donald Trump is a dick reinforces that. 

So, what of things to come; who knows? I am grateful for my life. I think that if wisdom has taught me anything, it’s that the older I get the less I tend to take for granted. To all of the people (family friends, colleagues) who move in the same circles as me, thank you so much; more than anything I love that we get to do life together, even if it only seems like fleeting moments that we spend together. to those friends who challenge me, thank you.

To those friends who are ill and need healing; I will do my best to hold you in prayer when I remember (especially you Sammy!!). To those friends who need to learn how to live with pain and constant illness, I get it.

To my Scottish clan, see ya soon I hope

To my wife, children, brothers, sisters and all of the extended family that fit under that, you make life worth living. Even during the deepest part of isolation, you reminded me that we still belong to each other. 

Blessings grace & peace (and love) to all.

PS; I was really floored this year with the passing of some people that I will miss greatly. In particular, Bill Hendo. My thoughts are with you MA.