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...     


Holly said...

Well there you are! I figured life just took ahold of you for a bit.

"Am I alone, though, in embracing a few weeks without modern conveniences?" Nope. I had a weeks vaca toward the end of last month and I told .nobody. I was on vaca so they could not ask me to do things with them. I checked my email but spent far far more time riding my horse, playing in the dirt (gardening) and taking the dogs places they love to go.

re your son: sometimes we have to have some contrast in our lives, though God willing, that much contrast doesn't happen more than once. When life changing events happen, they can make us really appreciate what we have.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

a technology rebellion? great, good for you! i am afraid i love mine to much to part with it even for a day but i promise to "consider it"!

and sadly i don't think today's children have the joy of a friend knocking on the door to "come out and play" like we used to have, it's all play dates set up by parents or organized functions. the world has changed and not all for the good. sadly.

have a lovely day my friend, i shall too!

smiles, bee

rlbates said...

You have been missed. Best to you

Anonymous said...

Thanks - we have always to remember that there is only one of you. Come by when you can - that's fine! Just keep on coming by.

Katie said...

With your post title, I was afraid you were going to say you were done blogging and that thought made me very, very sad. I'm glad to know it is not true.

I loved your post. As I was finishing it up Mom said, "Hey, Katie, let's go down to the pool and read... read REAL books!" Sounds like a great plan!

<>< Katie

Anonymous said...

My husband and I just spent 4 days without technology in a cabin in the hill country of TX. It was great. I recommend it for all!

Annika said...

Beautiful post. It's a great song, and has evokes similar emotions in me.

Love reading your posts whenever they come.

Jules said...

I take regular breaks from technology and take my family on the adventure with me. I had brain surgery earlier this year and really cherish the times that I have spent with family and friends away from the chaos of computers and phones.

Its a wonderful thing to go out and embrace the beautiful world we live in and share it with people you love.

SeaSpray said...

Welcome back Jim! :)

It sounds like you've been having a fabulous summer. Thank God your son came through that awful summer.

I really appreciate this post Jim and I wholeheartedly agree with you on so many points.

I've often said that I feel kids are shortchanged today ..but they don't know it. And we were so fortunate to have all the freedom to do all the outdoor things we did as kids. Played all day from morning until dark except for coming in for meals. No arranged dates. Just one lazy day blending into the next and whatever happened happened.

My oldest son was born in 1980 and even he wasn't allowed the same freedom Mr SeaSpray and I had as kids. You just can't be too careful watching your kids...knowing who they are with ..including their families and where they are. We always opened our home up to their friends ..feeding them and letting them stay over. Then you always know what they're doing and get to know them.

The world feels more stressful than I ever remember it ...seemingly bad news abounds and so scary/sad how sick some people are. It seems kids/adults are becoming desensitized to violence and loss of moral values. And being respectful. And sometimes it feels like what is good is considered bad and bad considered good. Even swearing. Adults and kids can be so crude now.

So, I think taking time away from electronics and spending time talking and sharing activities with each other is important ...but also a challenge because of how we all live now.

And it's a treat to get hand written correspondence via snail mail because we all e-mail, etc.

I love your second paragraph. :)

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Hey There, ER Doc, it’s so good to see you again. I am thankful that you are still posting. I miss those lazy days of playing with whomever was available. Even the neighborhood dogs were allowed to come out and run with us. We had acres and acres of state-owned land that was undeveloped and free for the roaming. We stayed out of trouble and learned to take care of ourselves and each other too. Perhaps in rural areas, things are not so different but life sure has changed since we were young.

littlepretendnurse said...

Missed you, glad to see you are well.

Music is a very powerful tool. I have a similar reaction to the song One More Day from Diamond Rio. Reminds me of my father and what I would do with one more day with him.

Have a great summer Doc!

Anonymous said...

Music and memories for me are one and the same. I get it.

Kathi said...

I found your site as an ER nurse who enjoys reading ER blogs and I've enjoyed your writing. However, today, I found that we have a link in common - I, too, have a summer that isn't your typical 'fun summer', but a summer that my sweet 6-year-old was dx with cancer. It is funny how a song, or a moment, or just 'something' can take you back to that point, isn't it? My daughter is now 15 and healthy, but I still tear up now and then when I remember...

It's funny how life works though - caring for her made me realize that a long-wondered-about dream of nursing could really be for me, and I graduated two years ago from nursing school.

Blessing to you, and your son, and I hope to hear more about his journey in a future post. Take care.

rental mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for sharing.

Karen said...

This is a beautiful song. Hope you're having a great summer!

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Memories are powerful!


Nurse and Hospital Stories said...

"The power of a song, the power of a memory, and the power of our responses to both is a thing of beauty."

Well said. Indeed there are experiences, situations and people that may come and go unto our lives, but memories, sweet and bitter alike will always remain. Personally, I still believe that in everything there is an appointed season, and in each season there is something beautiful on it.

Thanks for sharing,
Peny | October Is World MRSA Awareness Month