Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘remembering

Writers Know

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Writers know what it’s like to experience a brilliant barrage of thoughts while toiling away on some repetitive task, mentally composing a compelling essay of significant import, only to find it all has collapsed into simple drivel when finally seated with pen in hand or keyboard at the ready.

This morning, all I have left to offer you from yesterday’s hours of impressive insights are a few wisps of assurance that it likely would have been good reading, if I had captured the words in the moment. To my good pleasure, it did serve to entertain me while I muscled my way down our fence line, a foot at a time, cutting down the growth of grass and weeds that were swallowing the bottom wire and posts.

It’s possible that a key point in the evaporation of the wise and witty dialogue that was rolling along in my head occurred when I paused for a post-lunch rest in the hammock.

I remember gazing up at the spectacular old maple from which I was suspended and snapping a picture. Shortly after that, my consciousness was swallowed by a nap. Not just any nap, but the unrivaled bliss of the summer afternoon slumber in the weightlessness of fabric hanging between two glorious trees.

Yesterday’s mental essay? You’ll have to trust me on its brilliance. If it was all that worthy, I figure it will show up again someday when I am prepared to adequately capture it.

I’ll keep my eye out for it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

Confusing Mix

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In my song, the sixth verse starts: “Soon one day gets confused with others / It’s hard to say where we’ve been when…”

In reviewing journals I have occasionally kept during the annual June rides, I was hoping to clarify the places I’ve ridden to and in which years I was able to participate. Even though I was inspired to return after the great experiences I had the first year, the locations of the rides were a much greater factor in my decisions in the early years than they would be later on.

At this point, I think I’ve pedaled in most every region of the state, and beyond. I’m pretty sure we made a crossing into one, if not both, of the Dakotas. I purposely joined a group that did a day jaunt down to Iowa and back, and the ride eventually included some significant ventures into Wisconsin.

Small towns can tend to have a similar layout and vibe. My confusion gets multiplied by the fact we occasionally revisit the same place more than once over the years. The deja vu sensation becomes a regular occurrence. Unlike some sharper minds, I have not been able to recall all the towns and in which years.

In the 23 years that have passed since that first year that I rode, my journal and photo collections only provide evidence for 14 adventures. I’m confident that it is more than that, but can’t say how many more. I’m aware of 4 years for sure when I missed the ride.

I have fond remembrances of New York Mills, Kelliher, Luverne, Walker, Park Rapids, Bagley, International Falls, Cannon Falls, Harmony, Grand Marais, Grand Portage… We decided not to try riding into Canada that year.

The roads just roll past our tires. Too many to keep track of them all. Maybe I should have taken a picture of all the water towers we’ve seen in all these years.

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

Reunion Planning

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A few posts back I was waxing nostalgic about the 70s and I think I failed to point out another aspect of my renewed interest in the good ol’ days. This coming summer will mark 40 years since my class graduated from high school in Eden Prairie, MN, and I have again volunteered to participate in planning our every-decade-whether-we-like-it-or-not event.

Some people loathe the idea of a high school reunion. I get that. I love class reunions, except for the part where I don’t get to visit with unique people I was fond of who don’t come because they loathe reunions.

There is also one other problem I have with reunions: The nights always wiz by in a blur that leaves me short of having talked in any depth with all of those who do show up.

I guess I could frame the missing classmates who skip out on the event as a positive, since that gives me fewer people to feel bad about not having had enough time to chat up by the end of the evening.

In my experience with reunions, like so many other things, the main event can tend to be anti-climatic. The preparation and anticipation are often where I get the most reward for time invested. A few of my life-long friends gathered last night for a planning meeting, and once again, I heard some hilarious stories from our youth. After all these years, I’m amazed there are still tales I’m hearing for the first time.

Plenty of them have me wondering how we ever survived the shenanigans.

Our planning committee has the significant details established. We settled on a date, location, and rough outline of a plan for the evening. The next biggest step is getting the word out. A decade ago, I pushed an attempt to reach every name on our list, which made for good adventure in sleuthing. Who doesn’t like a little game of following clues every once in a while?

Ten years later, I’m finding myself much less interested in playing. Maybe it is a result of seeing the futility of trying to reach people who loathe reunions. Why bother? It makes more sense to me now that we should direct our energy to those who want to come. All we need to do is make it easy for people to learn of our event.

We advertise.

I’m thinking we should try something like the zoo did with April the giraffe’s pregnancy. If you don’t know about April at this point, you are in the uninformed minority. (Google: April giraffe. I dare ya.)

We need to start with some outrageous objection to our reunion event that would cause it to be banned. Something salacious enough that news organizations would pick up on it and cause a stir. Then we resolve that, get the ban lifted, springboard off the attention with a GoFundMe campaign, and get some corporate sponsorship.

See why the planning part is so much fun?

Still, part of me really hopes some of my old classmates who have skipped every other reunion will discover an urge to come this time. We intend to make it easy to learn about our event for those people who choose to inquire.

Do your classmates a favor. Do the math yourself and every 10 years, check to see if your class is holding a reunion. Then tell the planners whether you will come or not. It’s a simple courtesy that I know will be greatly appreciated.

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Nostalgia Happens

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Nostalgia. I can’t help it. Against my own wishes to deny the inevitable chronological orientation of my being, which fits precisely in the place where nostalgia begins to dominate ones attention, I am powerless. For years and years I enjoyed living in defiance of marketers who flooded the airwaves with attempts to bait and hook the primary buying demographic.

My tastes and interests were usually out of sync with the times or just far enough from center to be of little consequence to the purveyors of must-have products and services. My hobbies and interests leaned toward the years of my older siblings more than they matched what was aimed at me and my peers while we were coming into our prime.

Or so I like to think. In reality, there is every likelihood that the cunning advertisers of the products that I did fall for were deftly plying their trade to make me think I was forging my own bold path on the journey of maturation. I blindly wandered directly into the cross-hairs of their financial machine which worked its grips for brand loyalty deep into my unconscious.

With each passing year I have to work harder to deny that my value as a consumer is fading fast from the ever-changing entertainment industry and flying headlong for the entry gates of the AARP and pharmaceutical marketers.

During this wonderful NCAA basketball tournament month, my primary radio station for music has decided to run their own playoff bracket pitting match-ups of record albums from the 1990s. Yawn. How come I don’t care about any of these artists? I get the hint. I’m getting old, thank you very much.

In the same week that I was going through that realization, Cyndie turned on the television in our bedroom to see what was on and landed on a mesmerizing review of my home state, Minnesota in the ’70s. Produced with the Minnesota Historical Society Press and inspired by authors Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor, the incredibly familiar scenes dredged up completely neglected memories of the world I experienced as a teenager.

I couldn’t look away for fear of missing something. I wanted to soak in every last morsel of what was appearing on the screen.

Did these images trigger my latest re-fascination with long-lost music memories or is the timing incidental? Again, just last week, I was pulling out old vinyl albums that weren’t to be found anywhere in digital form, hoping to feed the hunger to listen to songs from my collection that I haven’t heard in decades.

There was an old Loggins & Messina album in the bunch that I realized was totally available for download, and after giving it a spin on the turntable, I went right to the iTunes store and bought it. That should definitely be in rotation on my iPod.

The advertising genius of showing other similar albums at the bottom of my screen found me powerless to its allure. I hadn’t thought about Seals & Crofts for so long that I’d forgotten they existed! I bought that, too. Jim Seals and Dash Crofts’ voices together are a spectacular combination.

Since I hadn’t listened to that harmony for what feels like forever, it sounded good as new to me again.

It also makes me feel like I might be getting a little old.

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Written by johnwhays

March 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

Soft Ground

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Nature didn’t live up to what the forecasters had predicted for us on Sunday. The temperature struggled to approach 50° (F) and the sky never really cleared enough to allow the sun to make much difference. Despite the less-than-inspiring conditions, Cyndie and I rallied our energies to pull out the wood chipper for another round of chewing up brush piles.

Since we are in the wonderful season when the top layer of soil is freezing and thawing daily, I had hoped to park the tractor on the driveway again, near the next largest pile of branches. Unfortunately, that meant the chute would be pointed directly into the wind and everything coming out would blow right back at the tractor.

Plan B had me moving a short distance off the pavement so we could point in a direction where the wind wouldn’t be a problem. Things progressed swimmingly until I apparently tossed in a limb that too closely resembled the petrified oak branches that foiled our efforts last time out.

I instantly realized I had completely forgotten to shop for more robust shear bolts after the previous go-round when the hardware replacement broke as fast as I installed it. Details, details.

I think I’ll remember to buy new bolts this time, especially if I do it on the way home from work today. No time like the present.

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Written by johnwhays

March 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

You

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

March 17, 2017 at 7:02 am

Powerful Thoughts

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Remembering things that have long ago faded from view is an art to be cherished. It does many things for us, but most significantly, it keeps alive those who are no longer physically here. Our mental processing happens the same for information arriving through our open eyes as it does for conjured memories. When we think about those who are not with us, it turns out that they actually are.

Arriving yesterday afternoon for a funeral service, Cyndie and I could feel the love and the grief before we saw it on the faces and in the hugs. Love and emotion radiates from the intensity of powerful thoughts.

Last night my dreams were as real as ever and traveled to one of my childhood homes, accompanied by faces and personalities of my present day. This morning the aroma of wood smoke from the warm flames in our fireplace reaches deep into my being and magically mixes the present moment with hundreds of equally pleasant fires of my past.

Most powerful of all, I get to choose where I will direct my thoughts to go. Shall I nurture the angst I feel over disturbing news reports and harrowing unethical prospects of late, or will I focus the power of my imagination on virtually hugging the globe and all its inhabitants in an embrace of love and compassion?

Yesterday, while editing an article Cyndie wrote, I was reminded of how much impact our mental energies have on outcomes.  She described her journey of transformation in defiance of a particular diagnosis of permanent disability, choosing to purposefully embrace the power of possibility, in lieu of passively accepting untested limitations.

My mind would be far less able and aware if it wasn’t for Cyndie’s influence. I’m embarrassed for the number of years I dragged my less-enlightened self, kicking and screaming in resistance, behind her bold explorations of potential for better possibilities.

“I dwell in possibility,” she would always tell me.

“Yeah, it’s possible this could all go wrong,” would be my natural reaction.

Proof lies in the pudding, and I’ve seen enough results now to recognize the beauty of her powerful thinking.

I’m going to send my love today to those who just lost a precious relation, while also renewing the lives of members of my own family by fondly remembering them in the same way my mind did when they were here.

An amazing power, thought.

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Written by johnwhays

March 11, 2017 at 10:17 am