Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
I recently passed my fifth blogiversary without so much as a blink. I completely forgot about it until someone else who started blogging about the same time as I did mentioned theirs.
I marked the first one with a post in which I basically interviewed myself (Hubris alert!). Interestingly, the reason that I gave for why I blog (“It’s cheaper than therapy”) still holds true today.
When I started blogging, Hurricane Katrina had just blown through, altering the shape and mood of our region for years to come. Today, through the soul-withering heat of day and into long, bourbon-soaked nights, The Big Easy once more vibrates 24/7, oscillating between all its myriad contradictions and mysteries as black as midnight. Speaking of which, the Saints, the apparent plaintives in some suit of grand cosmic justice, are now reigning Super Bowl Champions. Who could have possibly imagined dat?
In the fall of 2005, my sons were adolescents, scattered between 7th and 11th grades, piling into our already well-traveled “Swagger Wagon” smelling of sweaty shinguards and muddy cleats for weekend trips to soccer tournaments throughout the Southeast and church three times a week. Today, they are young men, retired veterans of “The Beautiful Game,” working out their own faith and seeking God in some most unusual and unexpected places. The “Swagger Wagon” has been replaced with a smaller crossover vehicle, an “empty nest-mobile” with no 3rd seat.
I’ve administered last rites to my mother, delivered her eulogy and buried her. I’ve executed her estate and sold her house and land. In death, I did for her the things that she could no longer do for herself.
But when I saw the old home place recently, it looked very much the same–kempt–just like my mother. The man who is renting and living there has grandsons, and he recently put up a basketball goal in the driveway. Once again, the metronomic thump of a bouncing ball echoes against the tall pines and cedars which ring the asphalt arena where a young boy once played out his Blue Devilish fantasies beneath the soft, dreamy glow of an automatic, dust-to-dawn light.
Eyegal and I are still together after 25 years–unlike many of our friends. The scourge of divorce in our circle has left us all scarred, battered and bruised. We’ve both agreed that no matter what differences we may ever have, that divorce is simply too much trouble. It is a suicide explosion, spraying clouds of spiritual shrapnel onto innocent onlookers and passersby.
Sometimes, when there are no words, we simply sit on the couch, watching NCIS or old MI-5 episodes on Netflix, holding on tight to each other’s hand–just in case one of us is starting to get any ideas about leaving (Oh no you don’t, you’re not getting off that easy!). We speculate on the origin of Don Draper’s various neuroses and the destination of this week’s particular manifestations. Then we rise, lock the doors, check to see where Number Three Son is and what time he will be in, and put the dog to bed. We read for a while, and then we fall asleep. The next morning, we get up and start all over again.
Somewhere there in the middle of all this, I was a real writer with a picture and a byline and everything, including a pittance of a salary. Frankly, I became very spoiled, and I haven’t been able to recapture that kind of lightning-in-a-bottle since. I still cast about, angling the murky depths of today’s publishing world for more freelance writing jobs. Unlike the old days when you submitted on paper and received rejection letters that you could post like trophies on your refrigerator, now it’s all done online. You receive a “thank you for your submission” automated reply, and then–nothing. “Much dreaming and many words” dissolve without so much as a trace into internet ether–vain and wearisome, indeed.
All this writing, and the resultant collisions with the ideas, rants and musings of my online community, have molded me into shapes I never dreamt possible. I’ve changed, and regular readers have only glimpsed the surface, the tip of the proverbial iceberg. But given the tumultuous tenor of the times and the potency of words, their potential to build up and to tear down, there are some alterations and mutations whose names I dare not speak. But who knows what the future holds? Perhaps someday soon that will change, too.
There is only one constant in life, only one thing that’s for sure–the times they are a-changin’. So am I. So are you.