The Pretender

Birthday week of 2017 was a doozy. Music. Sunshine. Friends. Food. Family. Frolicking. Revelry. Reminiscing. More music…and a tad bit of introspection.

We had been in Orygun less than 3 months when Jackson Browne released “The Pretender.” If I had a “ben franklin” for every time I have played the album since I bought the first vinyl copy in 1976, it woulda paid for my new Prius.
The Pretender is still on my 5-CD changer after keeping me company all week….and providing lots of fodder for both reminiscing and introspection.

Lyrics, links and a {comment} or two follow… No singer-songwriter has written more songs that make me reflect on my way of life, my directions and where I am, where I’ve been, and what I’ve done than Jackson Browne.

The Fuse
“….Whatever it is you might think you have
You have nothing to lose
Through every dead and living thing
Time runs like a fuse
And the fuse is burning…”
{Does a short fuse burn faster? It sure seems like it…}

Your Bright Baby Blues
“…Everybody’s going somewhere
Riding just as fast as they can ride
I guess they’ve got a lot to do
Before they can rest assured
Their lives are justified…”

The Only Child
“… take good care of your mother
And remember to be kind…
…And when you’ve found another soul
Who sees into your own
Take good care of each other…”
{“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Henry James}

Daddy’s Tune
“…Living your life day after day
Soon all your plans and changes
Either fail or fade away…”
{Never been much of “a planner.” Probably moreso now than ever. My plans: live life day after day; be kind; enjoy every sandwich; listen to lots of music; give lots of hugs; repeat.}

Sleeps Dark and Silent Gate
“…Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder
Where the years have gone
They have all passed under
Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate…”
{Lots of years have passed since I first had this album on repeat. I haven’t laid awake at night very often. But there has been lots of wondering…lots and lots of wondering.}

The Pretender
“…I’m gonna find myself a girl
Who can show me what laughter means
And we’ll fill in the missing colors
In each others paint by number dreams…”

{In the fall of 1976 I had absolutely no intentions of ever struggling for the legal tender. 6 years later I was starting a 14 year career with the largest accounting firm in the world…wearing wing tips, wool, silk and cotton….and “keeping score” by looking at the last line of page 1 of my Form 1040.
Several years ago my late friend and mentor John Crudele asked me if I had “taken a vow of poverty.” I told him that I was going to live rich and die poor….and that for the second time in my life I had found the girl that Jackson Browne had sung about. I have never been richer than I am in 2017.
I am a lucky guy. What more can anyone want? Friends, music, and someone to love….who loves you.
Don’t be stingy with your hugs.
Just Be.}

This can’t be right…

I’ve always been good with numbers…at least that’s what they tell me.
I was a CPA once upon a time. I was/am a number cruncher, but I was NEVER a bean counter.

“But this can’t be the right number….”

I had just turned 17 when The Who released their first album. I cranked it up to 11 when Roger Daltry belted out:
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation
This is my generation, baby…”

As I headed for 18 and draft eligibility, I was a fundamentalist Baptist minister’s son who was just starting to feel his oats…and who was developing a serious craving for adult beverages.
That was 52 years ago.

“But this can’t be the right number….”

Before we left Missouri and moved west in the Bi-Centennial Year, I had a friend who I partied with on a regular basis. He had just finished pharmacy school. This lyric was my reality.
“…This friend of mine said
‘Close your eyes, and try a few of these’
I thought I was flying like a bird
So far above my sorrow
But when I looked down
I was standing on my knees…”

Somehow I’m still standing 45+ years later….upright even. Go figure.

“But this can’t be the right number….”
I was 29 and had been living in Corvallis for a little over a year when twenty-nine-year-old Jackson Browne sang:
“In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on
Running on, running on empty…”

I wasn’t running on empty. I was running on homemade blackberry wine, home grown weed, white crosses, black beauties and all the shrooms I could find.
That was 40 years ago…and is NOT Fake News.

“But this can’t be the right number….”
I have always been early to rise and late to bed. (Is 2 am late to bed or early to bed? Just asking.)
Never lived on a farm, but this was…and still is…my perspective on sleep. (Did Warren Zevon ever live on a farm?)

“…So much to do, there’s plenty on the farm
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Saturday night I like to raise a little harm
I’ll sleep when I’m dead…”

I closed lots of bars. I was the last one to leave lots of parties. Sometimes I even remembered what I had done the night before and how I had gotten to the place where I woke up. The vast majority of those blacked out nights happened before I was 25. But not all of them.
It is NOT sleep deprivation that has me questioning this particular #.

“But this can’t be the right number….”

I can keep telling myself that “this can’t be the right number” but I know that it is.
On 9/13/2017 I start my 70th trip around the sun. Sixty-ninth birthday; 70th trip.

I’ve got more questions than answers. I don’t know much, but…

I know that I am lucky to be alive.
I know that I am in the minor leagues compared to many of the folks who graduated H.S. the same year as me.
I know that some of the folks who were in the minor leagues compared to me have bones planted or ashes sprinkled. Dead from ODs, car wrecks, cirrhosis…or just being with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Been there; done that. Got lucky.

I know that I am lucky that I didn’t spend time in an orange jumpsuit after being get caught doing some of the stupid things that I did….and I am NOT talking about drug possession. (Nobody should be locked up for a personal stash….U.S. drug laws are idiotic!)
I know that I am lucky to have family, friends and a partner who have my back.
I know that 69 is just a number.
So is 70.
As a numbers guy, the number 86,400 means something to me. That number pops into my head at least once each and every day.

“We only got 86,400 seconds in a day
To turn it all around or to throw it all away
Gotta tell ’em that we love ’em while we got the chance to say,
Gotta live like we’re dying…”

Enjoy every bite of every sandwich.
Just Be.