The Old Guy: having had a difficult spring season

The lyrics of the song are as follows:

“Spring is here, there is no mistake

Blackbirds building nests from coast to coast

My heart tries to sing so they don’t hear it break

Spring can really hook you the most”

(Fran Landesman/Tommy Wolf)

Spring threw my heart like a rag doll into the teeth of a large German Shepherd this year. Joy and sorrow mixed in equal parts and left me feeling confused and dizzy.

Spring and fall are my favorite seasons. I’m not really an extremist, when it comes to the weather; I prefer the middle ground. But lately I have to look out the window just to see what season it is. Climate change has certainly upended our sense of day and night, spring and winter, jacket or sweater. I wish the seasons would sort themselves out, but unfortunately they’re going to need our help.

We celebrated our granddaughter’s first birthday on the Saturday of Holy Week. As the only Catholic in my family, I constantly have to juggle social events and church obligations. That said, it was a wonderful event held at the Staten Island Zoo, which I only visited during Spooktacular with our friends Al and Joanne. It was truly wonderful to see so many people we hadn’t seen in two years. And the babies! I deeply believe that my son and daughter-in-law returned from California to Staten Island just for this community of friends and children – and who could blame them?

Joan and I and the members of our radio station also celebrated the one year anniversary of the passing of our friend Ron Lancs, also known as The Sheriff. He recruited Joan and me to this radio station and almost every show we do has an entry from his library. He is greatly missed but still present.

Holy Week was, as usual, filled with flowers, purple light and the smell of incense. I found myself especially grateful for my community of faith this year and the chance to play and sing with them.

Four of my friends were smitten with “The Big C” recently. I discovered three on the same day. Prayer seems to be the only recourse at such times. Prayer and gratitude to be able to do the simple things that are no longer available to friends who now have to worry about treatments and chemotherapy and blood levels and possible cancer cell growth. I learned from my parents that cancer is the implacable enemy of life. I lost two friends in 2019 and I hope not to lose any more. So I pray. And I meditate on life and its abundance and its tragedies and its sadness and its joys. I can’t do much else.

But, as I’ve written before, it’s always been that way, or in Kurt Vonnegut’s words “…and so on.” What we accomplish in our lives is sometimes based on our reactions to the curves that life throws at us. We learn who we really are through conflict, not comfort.

Adam McKay is a filmmaker who enlightened me through his films on subjects that are completely outside my field of knowledge or interests. His recent series on HBO concerning the LA Lakers was far from being in my list of “must-sees”. But I find myself drawn to the character of Kareem Abdul Jabar. His search for centering, spiritual awareness and peace mirrors mine. Kudos to the cast for making Jabar’s research so universal.

And then, as always, there are the changes of light, the shadows, the scent of the breeze. Something about spring always reminds us of rebirth, which is why so many important religious events occur during this time.

Rebirth can take many forms. You can change the way you think, or as in the tune of Lucinda Williams, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, the name of your hometown. As we get older, we still experience these things. Age doesn’t stop us from reliving life, especially when it’s through the eyes of a newborn. Watching my granddaughter run and play fills me with joy. Seeing her experience things for the first time makes me laugh with joy. And sometimes I think it’s not so bad after all.

But then I turn on my TV and within five minutes I hear about several disasters. It’s true that good news never sells, that fear and anxiety are a big part of our viewing. Sometimes we need to take a break from the carnage and focus on the things that will replenish our souls.

Sometimes you literally have to stop and smell the roses.

Happy spring everyone!

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