I’ve always been a fan of the start of a New Year, the arrival of my birth day, and Labour Day, but maybe more for the elements I incorporated into them that made them special, versus the days themselves.
These occasions provide me the opportunity to indulge in a little retrospection of the recent past, and allow me to evaluate how I wished to move forward, personally, professionally, financially, with my health, my volunteering efforts, and in my relationships both romantic and platonic.
Being a particularly introverted sort, on the many occasions I spent the day solo (or otherwise within a day or so), I’d do what it took to make sure those days were filled with quality alone time (isolation is alone, and mandatory, so therefore does not qualify as ‘quality’; sorry, not sorry COVID) by listening to my favourite music, watching a favourite movie, enjoying my favorite beverage (Cokes in my teens, tea or microbrew in my 20s), and as I became older, enjoying a good scotch, while doing some reflective and introspective journaling.
How journaling came to be a part of my life is my mother’s fault (can of worms not yet opened), as she introduced me to Sue Townsend’s ‘The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole‘ roughly around the same time/era in my life as the protagonist was in the first book (13 3/4s). I found a bit of a kindred spirit in the young master Mole, as his fictional ‘problems’ related to my own very real ones at the time: being decidedly nerdly and completely without understanding of life’s biggest enigma, girls. My sharing those same concerns with the protagonist, along with his keeping a journal just made it natural and given that I would journal as well.
Journaling has since been with me, for what is now a very long time. While we have sometimes drifted apart from each other, we find ways seem to find our way back to each other by evolving in order to keep the relationship fresh. As I write now, my journaling has evolved since starting this attempt at blogging in October. What was previously privately scribbled into notebooks, eventually became electrons stored on my digital devices, then briefly was exposed with the my first foray into blogging before the rise of social media posts before social media, which caused me to once again to retreat from the public and turn back to the privacy of a word document, hidden away on my laptop, unlikely to ever be read by anyone by me. The Pause changed that, and by October 2020, I started this somewhat exhibitionistic approach to journaling blog; I say somewhat exhibitionistic, because I suppose like leaving open the curtains open to the bedroom in a intimate moment, there’s a chance someone might stroll by for a look. Gone now, however, are the high octane Cokes that I once used help augment the writing energy, having been replaced with dark roast coffee, a touch of the ‘to be avoided’ cream, along with a sweetener to help take the edge off, but now added into the mix is the occasional puff of the creativity inspiring Jack Herer to help lend push forward.
Something else is present, albeit changed over the years, but also undeniably constant: music. The cassette tapes, the CDs, and burnable CDs are gone, but not the audible output, and it’s effect remain unchanged. I still find that I can summon my former angsty self by casting some New Order or The Smiths (and it feels like home). Music has been a great source of pleasure for me, and I have come to recognize (thanks to The Pause) that that I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother, rather than to my father for that trait. My father created the monster with in me that loves to play music loudly and in rich detail (Dad, Future Shop and Best Buys shareholders probably owe you a thank-you), but my mother, intentionally or otherwise, taught me to appreciate songwriting and music.
Naturally, being her offspring, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t allow myself to appreciate her taste in music at the time. She loved Queen (rightfully so, once I’ve decided it that for myself), but I was more fond of the sci-fi inspired art work of their ‘News of the World‘ album than their music; after all as it was 1977 and Star Wars (no bleeding Episode 4, prequels or sequels, of any type) had just been released.
Beyond our mutual agreement the Beatles were brilliant and that a few tracks of Dire Straits’ ‘Brothers in Arms‘ album were okay, our tastes couldn’t have been more different. Whenever I heard her play Leonard Cohen, I cringed. The truth is I was too young at the time to really appreciate his lyrics as his voice turned me off so badly I couldn’t get past it for years. Ask the adult me about him now and I’ll freely call him a brilliant writer, but I still have no taste for his voice.
My mother was a big folk music fan, and, (surprise, surprise) I was not. Her passion for folk music was at it’s peak when British New Wave music was hitting and I had devoted my musical attention to watching CBC’s Video Hits after school as my musical tastes were more highly influenced by my friends than my mother.
Ultimately however, I have little doubt that my love of songwriting no doubt came into existence due to hours spent in muggy, nearly empty tents (bliss to the introvert in me, but torture to my budding musical tastes) in the middle of a mosquito infested field at Folk Fest thanks to her volunteering to support the events. In my boredom I was forced to listen to the musicians, lamely playing music on guitars and beating on a skin stretched tightly on a ring, or singing with a hand cupping their ear to better hear their own voices. I failed, at the time to develop a strong appreciation of the music of Stan Rogers or Gordon Lightfoot, instead I stared up at the dark black sky at the stars, wishing to be anywhere else, while the crowd was enraptured by the performance on stage.
Thank you, Mom, for introducing me to two of my life’s biggest passions. I hope you’re living yours in the beyond.