Friday, July 8, 2011

Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)

Ah, summertime. Sunshine. Warm weather. No school. Mounds of sports. Shrieking, playful kids. Sleeping in. Swimming at the club. Yes, this is the stuff that we who live along the shores of a Great Lake anticipate and dream of, especially in the midst of a three-foot snow dumping. Life is good when those dreams come true.

Ah, but, summertime. Time to eat picnic foods and have an extra drink and snack on another opened bag of chips. French onion dip included, thank you. Big burgers with Greek sauce. All beef wieners loaded with pickles and ketchup and mustard. Milkshakes topped with real whipped cream to slurp while watching the distant sun's setting over the discrete line of two worlds merging, our world with its blue-green waves gently swishing the emerging shadows toward our shores and that invisible red-glowing world that the sun slowly dips into, hiding from our searching eyes, to gather it's next-day strength of warmth and light.

I've enjoyed my summer so far, no doubt about it.  I was ahead in my work hours for my July to June contract and, as a result, had a few weeks off that were unplanned as some of my partners got extended hours to meet their contract obligations.  Lucky me.  More kid-time.  Bike-rides.  Tennis and swimming.  Lacrosse and soccer. More shooting hoops in the backyard. Especially, though, for me--no cell phone calling, no texting, and no computer time.  I revolted, in a benign way, to the thrusts of technology into my private life. Thus, no recent posts.

Thanks for hanging along with me. Am I alone, though, in embracing a few weeks without modern conveniences? How many of you miss the days of your childhood where fun seemed more easy to come by, where friends knocked on each others' doors just to see if someone could come out to play. I miss the days of my childhood where a typical day was an unplanned day, spent playing kick-the-can, kickball, hide-and-seek, fishing, and taking long country-road bike rides and hikes through the woods. The day was finished off, of course, with one of Mom's delicious four course meals. Then a bowl of vanilla ice cream drizzled with Mom's famous homemade peanut butter chocolate fudge.  Finally, it was off to bed, completely exhausted, wondering what excitement the next day would hold.

We don't do enough of that these days, what with all the organized sports and practices and such. Swimming practices at 7 am and 8:30 am, meets at 6 pm. Baseball batting and fielding practices and all-star league play. Lacrosse warm-ups. Tennis tournaments. Soccer practices and games. Basketball camps. A half-hour minimum of book reading per day. Not only our kids, but most of the kids of our friends do the same thing. It is not forced, though, and the kids love the various get-togethers with their diverse yet close-friends to do something they enjoy. As a parent, you gotta endorse that, especially since my sharp parental eye is not spotting any creepy "badness" happening that seems to be permeating our teenage society. No drugs. No alcohol. Just plain ol' fun. But my favorite and most important times of day, the meal times, have become a struggle to maintain among all this organized frenzy.

Besides ignoring technology, I have also been trying to boost up my own physical activity.  It's summer time--translation, more short-sleeves and swimsuits. This equates to me as more gym time and weight-lifting, more yoga, calming walks, and lots of daily stretching. Oh yeah, and my morning sit-up ritual.

Recently, I've struggled with my sit-up routine. It is my least favorite of all of my workouts.  But thankfully, I found a way around it. Since I am usually on our bedroom floor at 9 am, in front of the TV, ready to go at it for 20 minutes, and not wanting to watch Steve Wilcko or Jerry Springer, The Doctors or extended hours of The Today Show, I have begun watching concerts of some of our favorite artists on DVD. Sarah McLachlan, of course. Celine Dion from Vegas. Mary Chapin Carpenter from years ago. And The Dixie Chicks.

The other day, while grunting and sweating out my sit-up routine to An Evening With The Dixie Chicks, I had to stop. Catch my breath. Wipe my eyes. Not from being tired or sweaty, though, but because one of their amazing songs took me back almost ten years, to a time when our summer wasn't what I described above.  It was a much different summer. A summer with no sports. A summer with little joy. A summer of no typical activities of fun-in-the-sun.

It was the first summer we guided Cole through his year-long chemotherapy regiment.  A summer filled with angst and worry. As I sat up to get a better look at the DVD while crossing my legs Indian-style, I turned up the volume and let the song's lyrics and the genius musical interpretation by The Dixie Chicks transport me to that time, washing me over in emotions to powerful to control. The power of an amazing song always seems to stun me to a different level of consciousness.

When the song ended, though, I couldn't help but smile. And marvel at how far my family and how far my son Cole had come. How a summer a decade ago represented nothing to me of familiarity. And how far, how amazingly far, we had come. Suddenly, I realized that I missed my childhood summers very much, but I didn't miss that summer of Cole's illness where the true spirit of summertime passed us by. I understood a deeper appreciation for the summers we have now, both with the similarities and differences of summertimes past.

The power of a song, the power of a memory, and the power of our responses to both is a thing of beauty. From this power, my new appreciation for these more recent summers that don't imitate my own childhood ones.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the name of the song that sucker-punched my emotions--Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) on You may need to type it in as a search as "An Evening With The Dixie Chicks--Godspeed." A worthy search. In this clip, it is even explained how the song got its origin, another amazing story in and of itself. I hope you can appreciate the connection this song made with me during that haunting summer.

I hope you are having a good, bustling summer so far, my friend, and thanks for reading...

As always, big thanks for reading. I hope this finds you well and enjoying an amazing summer.  Thanks for bearing with me through my technology rebellion...