Friday’s Theme Music

Masked up and went walking yesterday. Of the ten pedestrians I encountered, one was masked. So, about eighteen percent are masked when out and about, contrary to guidance.

Our little town has a reported ten COVID-19 cases. That’s an unofficial count. The county has had fifty-two cases. Social distancing and sheltering-in-place has been practiced, but most only wear masks when in stores, because the stores demand it. So, I suspect our low count is due to our rural nature, limitations on travel, and luck. I hope it all holds.

While out exercising my legs, I realized I was humming a song and identified it as the Rush song, “Freewill” (1980). I have one friend who was a devoted Rush fan and another who can’t stand Rush because they don’t like Geddy Lee’s voice. The Rush lyrics rushed in with these memories (sorry for the pun).

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive

The stars aren’t aligned
Or the gods are maligned
Blame is better to give than receive

[Hook]
You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose freewill

h/t to Genius.com

These lyrics are taken in different ways by different people. (Well, words, right? That’s how it goes with words.) I’ve always thought that the song referred to thinking for yourself. I like to believe I think for myself. I wear a mask because that’s recommended; studies show it helps reduce viral transmission.

Maybe I am sheeple, as non-mask fans charge. Perhaps my twenty plus years in the military conditioned me to obey orders without question. Don’t think so, myself; I was known for challenging orders.

Then again, we select and frame the information and memories that best suit what we want to know as the facts, don’t we? We’re each in our own bubble. We try to control what comes in and goes out but there’s quite a bit beyond our control.

Nebulous? No, complicated. One thing that I’ve discovered as I’ve aged is that I’m not the person who I think I am. My window into myself is as limited as my windows into others. My body is often doing things that I don’t know, responding to chemicals in ways that science knew but I didn’t, and my brain often reacts before I think. We depend on surface impressions and isolated moments to inform our decisions. Some of them are magnified in importance – in our heads – rising on waves of emotions and intellect.

Such complicated beasts we are in a complicated world. Which takes me back to “Freewill” and Rush. You make a choice. Sometimes it seems to work, other times, it seems to flop, but a lot of times, we’re forever waiting to learn the results.

Thursday’s Theme Music

An old familiar song entered my head yesterday as I did yard work. Written by John Fogerty, the Status Quo cover of “Rockin’ All Over the World” (1977?) kept me coming.

The mind introduced the song toward the yard work’s beginning. Addressing an issue that I had to do, I told myself, “Here we go.” That invited the song’s refrain, “Here we go, here we go,” in. Once invited in, like a vampire, it can do whatever it was; I’d let it in.

It’s a simple rock song, upbeat and happy, a throwback to simpler times. Your impression of simpler times will vary according to your mileage and mindset, but it works for me.

The Beer Group

The weekly beer group would’ve met last night under ordinary circumstances. These being ordinary circumstances, they did not.

As a group, we range in size from six to sixteen attendees on most week. Volunteerism and traveling to visit family are the usual culprits pruning our numbers. We range in age from sixty to eighty-eight. Several college professors, computer programmers and coders, a physicist, doctor, and wildlife management people and biologists make up our group. Death has taken two since I joined it, an eon ago.

Businesses are re-opening in Ashland, Oregon. Technically, we could’ve met last night, wearing masks and social-distancing. These limitations made me laugh, right? We’re already on a group that struggles to hear one another. Imagine us now six feet apart trying to do that. Add the mask. Then, let us drink the beer.

You’d think with all this intelligence in the group, someone would devise a solution, something akin to the shower curtains being deployed in some restaurants, or the little greenhouses in Amsterdam, but no. We didn’t meet.

Think it’ll be a while before we do.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

I often wish that I was more ignorant of the world, that I lacked the capacity to see the big picture, understand the science, recall history, and remember the lies.

Not a genius nor overly bright or educated, I recall matters and critically examine almost everything that crosses my mind and my eyes. Doesn’t help that I’m married to a similar person; we feed off one another. Nor does it help that throughout my military and civilian positions and work, others saw these traits in me and honed them. I become overly critical and analytical; any skill that becomes too dominant can be a liability.

I’d like to live in a ‘just-pretend’ world where things are better, which is probably why I write. I’m attracted to writing detective stories where the main character is deeply flawed and struggles with seeing the good in others over his insights into the wrongs that they do, no matter how small the wrongs. Always on the top of that list is his own wrongs.

Likewise, dystopian fiction, where governments, corporations, religions, and individuals have misled others so they can advance themselves or keep themselves in power, always attracts me. It’s a dark world for my characters.

No surprise, then, my thoughts on the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 is that civilizations are poor learning organizations, not infrequently out of step with one another. It’s a messy dance floor where different music is heard by almost everyone. It’s the nature of trying to meld political weld out of individual agendas. We advance by degrees. I always think we could advance more quickly. Yet, too, disagreement and debate are required and healthy for relationships, including governments, societies, and civilizations. It’s when facts become distorted that it gets unhealthy.

Into this mess of morning thinking, prompted by a restless night of writing in my head and chasing dreams, is Jackson Brown’s first hit, “Doctor, My Eyes”, from 1972. His lyrics about seeing too much, looking too long, and how it has influenced his life view, has always been a favorite.

It’s worthy theme music for a rona Wednesday.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I have a few pieces of the old Berlin Wall in my office, along with a piece of the original original barbed wire. Yeah, so it’s all claimed; none of it is authenticated.

They’re symbols of oppression and come to mind now because of the constant chatter about people being oppressed. Businesses aren’t permitted to open, or open with severe restrictions. The restrictions are in the name of health and safety; the people protesting them believe that either the government can’t be trusted, that the restrictions are part of a larger plot, or that state, local, and Federal governments don’t have the right to make such restrictions in the name of safety and security.

Anyway, the discussions and disagreements are building metaphorical walls. The Berlin Wall eventually fell; the Great Wall still stands. I wonder how high our walls will go and how long they’ll stand?

Meanwhile, a John (Cougar) Mellencamp song, “Crumblin’ Walls”, 1983, came to mind. I saw him in concert twice, surprisingly in Germany both times.

Enough of this verbal nattering. To the music.

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