Greetings to an introspective Saturday here on Robert Frost’s Banjo. A bit of an update on things in the new Banjo Central here in Portland for those who are interested, & a great Tom Waits song for everybody.
I very recently underwent a birthday—a significant one, too, as it’s the first of a few that enable one to qualify for “senior citizen” status (double nickels on the dime, as Minutemen fans will understand!) Now in practical terms, this is not all a bad thing: besides the fact that it very much “beats the alternative,” I’m all for discounts, & it also makes me eligible for some housing out here. In fact, seeking housing on a fixed income is proving to be the most challenging part of the Portland experience. Without going into the political realities that have shaped this, the fact is that subsidized housing is tight here & the system appears pretty well strained. I’m very fortunate to have an ongoing living situation that should see me thru until something comes open—a lot of folks don’t have that. I’m also beginning to look at situations with just a room or roommate needed, as this seems to provide a bit more leeway, while allowing me to keep within a budget.
But practical matters aside, a birthday is often a time to take stock—to look back on what he have & haven’t accomplished, things we’ve done well, as well as our errors of omission & commission. Waits’ song interests me profoundly in this regard: it’s the wistful song of a dreamer who comes to the point of realizing that his dreams have always remained in his head & haven’t come to fruition. It’s a profoundly sad song, but one I think that expresses something we all feel from time to time: regret, & perhaps an ongoing wish to grab for something while there’s still time.
It also interests me because I really didn’t expect to see my 55th birthday starting a new life in a new city—starting over from scratch in many ways, at a time of life when many are settled in the consolidation of a life built over years of a career & family life. For various reasons, I eschewed those things. I know there are people who don’t approve of the way I’ve lived my life—who think I frittered away talents & opportunities; & I certainly know very well what regret feels like.
Still, the life I’ve lived so far has been my own. & for all the anxieties & worries, & even the physical problems associated with a chronic condition, I still can wonder at the sunlight in the garden out my window or marvel at music I hear or even thrill to be able to make music come out of an instrument myself. Tho there’s bitterness & sorrow in every life, there are also an abundance of other joys, great & small!
& so I watch Portland’s late summer flowers blooming along the sidewalks & parking strips, & “I shall take the Marleybone coach & go whistling down the wind.”