Stuck in Lodi

IS ADVENTURE ONLY FOR THE YOUNG? Is it important to be on some sort of quest no matter our age?

 Harper, Stuck. A few years back.

Harper, Stuck. A few years back.

Stuck in Lodi again?

In my last post I started with a quote from Tom Sawyer: “There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” But what about grown men? Should we metaphorically “play in the street” from time to time?

Stuck in Lodi again?

Guys are pretty good at seeking adventure vicariously. Show me a little league ball team, soccer team or Pop Warner football team and I’ll show you at least one guy living the athetic dream through his kid. Not to cast stones though; every time one of my two sons would sit down at a set of drums I was sitting there too somehow. Is there an age limit on picking up a pair of sticks?

Stuck in Lodi again?

I don’t know about you, but I find it easier and easier to create lists of excuses: I’m not as young as I once was. Too busy. Don’t have the money. Prudence is a virtue too. (Isn’t it?). Folly is for fools. And on, ad nauseum.

Stuck in Lodi again.

I hear old guys talking about having earned the right to “coast” for awhile as if that were virtuous. To state the obvious: if you’re coasting, you’re going downhill. It can all start with just coasting. Then before you know it we’re:

Stuck in Lodi again.

But being stuck isn’t just for old guys. Amen?! There is an abundance of young people glued to impractical worldviews, bad relationships, unfulfilling jobs, distorted self images and unrealistic expectations. Not all, but some, at least some of the time are:

Stuck in Lodi again.

There I go again, throwing rocks without proper credentials (as in, “let him who is without sin cast the first rock”). Recently I went to my doctor for something called a “Welcome to Medicare Wellness Visit.” Sort of like an annual physical. I was poked proded and interrogated. One of the questions was, “Are you having feelings of depression?” My response: “I wasn’t until this all started.” Nothing quite says “you’re stuck in the senior spiral” like a mandatory “Welcome to Medicare Visit”.

Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again.

Maybe the thing that most keeps us stuck is fear. “Stay in the harbor where it’s safe.” “You go ahead. I’ll watch from here.” A few words on the subject from Seth Godin:

I’m listening to a speech from ten years ago, twenty years ago, forty years ago… “During these tough times… these tenuous times… these uncertain times…” And we hear about the urgency of the day, the bomb shelters, the preppers with their water tanks, the hand wringing about the next threat to civilization.

At the same time that we live in the safest world that mankind has ever experienced. Fewer deaths per capita from all the things that we worry about.

Risky? Sure it is. Every moment for the last million years has been risky. The risk has moved from Og with a rock to the chronic degeneration of our climate, but it’s clear that rehearsing and fretting and worrying about the issue of the day hasn’t done a thing to actually make it go away. Instead, we amplify the fear, market the fear and spread the fear as a form of solace, of hiding from taking action, of sharing our fear in a vain attempt to ameliorate it.

Stuck in Lodi again.

If you’re old enough and/or if you have refined musical tastes in southern rock, you know of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the epitome of the genre. And probably by now the tune of the CCR song, “Lodi” is running through your head. It is a song about a musician, one of the struggling, starving kind, trying to get unstuck, but clearly it’s about way more than that, that Lodi is more than a town on a map. Like Fogarty says in the first verse: 

“I guess you know the tune.
Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again.”


Lodi

By John Fogarty
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Just about a year ago
I set out on the road
Seekin’ my fame and fortune
Lookin’ for a pot of gold
Thing got bad and things got worse
I guess you know the tune
Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again

Rode in on the Greyhound
I’ll be walkin’ out if I go
I was just passin’ through
Must be seven months or more
Ran out of time and money
Looks like they took my friends
Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again

A man from the magazine
Said I was on my way
Somewhere I lost connections
Ran out of songs to play
I came into town, a one night stand
Looks like my plans fell through
Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again

If I only had a dollar
For every song I’ve sung
Every time I had to play
While people sat there drunk
You know, I’d catch the next train
Back to where I live
Oh Lord, stuck in a Lodi again
Oh Lord, I’m stuck in a Lodi again

How do we get STUCK? Maybe it starts with just settling; as in: settle for less than what we might have hoped for; and, as in: settle down—become comfortable, secure, boring even. I really like the ad series that’s playing right now about the Settlers: “We’re settlers, that’s what we do, we settle.”

If you haven’t seen it, click and watch.

So what’s the answer to not getting stuck or getting unstuck? It’s not a simple formula that’s for sure. You can’t read a book and solve it. A large donation to a TV evangelist won’t do it. A political messiah is useless.

The answer is a paradox: to find yourself, you have to lose yourself. And as far as I can tell you have to actually live it out; experience it, to even begin to understand it.

“Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.” —Jesus. (Matthew 10:39)

I’m sure sometimes, maybe, “Lodi” or the Wilderness can be a nice place; for a time, but I wouldn’t want to get stuck there

Playing in the Street

“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy’s life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

I feel sorry for so many children today. Maybe they don’t sense the oppression that I believe they live under, especially now as the days begin to warm and grow longer.

One of the privileges of senior adulthood is that you get to talk about the good old days whether anyone cares or not, listens or not, believes you or not. Let’s start this way: back when I was a boy…

We played in the street. We crawled through broken windows exploring empty buildings. We waded the banks of the Arkansas river. We rode our bikes to the little gas station on 71st street to reach into the icy water of the pop box for a bottle of Grapette. The days were full and lasted until after dark when we could hear someone’s parent summoning him home.

This photo of our Grand-Girls and some of their friends reminded me of those times. I am so glad they live in a town, among great friends where they can play in the street, where they are not limited to living adventures only through TV shows and a game on an iPad.

I do not claim to be a poet, but I like to dabble. A while back I took a challenge to write a poem about the street where I grew up. Here it is:

ON QUINCY STREET

On Quincy Street south of seventy-first
A portal stood seen just by boys and girls
The lack of dreams by which adults are cursed
Vice versa saved the wonder of this world.
Quincy to kids as an oyster to pearl
A treasure trove and innocent eyes to see
Princess, Prince or King; not a one a churl
Creating as those who are completely free.
In the venues diverse like the old oak trees
The rock path that leads to the river’s edge
Where grade and pace caused many a skinned knee
But some shed blood strengthens the secret pledge.
The sign at the head of Quincy reads, “Dead End”
It should have said, “Path that adventure tends.”

Recollections

rec·ol·lec·tion |ˌrekəˈlekSH(ə)n| noun

the action or faculty of remembering something.
“to the best of my recollection no one ever had a bad word to say about him”
a thing recollected; a memory.

As I write, I’m listening to a song called “Recollections” by Miles Davis and band. It’s 19 minutes of free jazz and one of my favorites. I tend to be mindful of having a soundtrack to life.

This week I roadtripped to Nashville. I prepared for the trip emotionally and spiritually by listening several times to Loretta Lynn’s new record, “Full Circle”. The trip represented a sort of full circle for me. I was visiting Floyd and Ann Craig at their beautiful home in Nashville, AKA, The No-Agenda Retreat Center. Riding shotgun was my dear friend and mentor Doug Manning. Driving up from Atlanta to join us was my “brother” Gene Chapman.

For me this was a re-collection of people who have been there in some of the most pivotal times of my life. We spent hours recollecting and remembering the past better than it was. (As we’re apt to do.)

Back in the early 70s I was going through a crisis of faith and calling. Floyd was my go-to guy during this and he introduced me to Doug. If you’re interested in more of that story, I’ve told a bit of it in a post last year about this time. Gene and I met a few years later as I was seeking to live out my calling on the other side of the crisis. I've always felt I could be completely real with Gene.

Hopefully you get a sense of how important these guys are to me, as are the recollections that have rushed in through being with them again.

 photo by Krystal Brauchi

photo by Krystal Brauchi

I also hope that in the midst of the bunnies and eggs and chocolate and ham this weekend, you will re-collect your friends and families and that there will be good times of story-telling and recollecting.

Most of all I hope for a time of anamnesis for all of us.

anamnesis |ˌanəmˈnēsis| noun
(from the Greek word ἀνάμνησις meaning reminiscence and/or memorial sacrifice), in Christianity is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist and/or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me”, (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25).  -- Wikipedia

Anamnesis is just a fancy word for recollecting, for remembering, but that is powerful stuff. I heard a doctor speak one time about remembering. He explained that when someone loses an appendage, let’s say a finger, it is called “dismembered”. He said that when it is reattached it should be called “re-membered”.

That’s what happens when we remember: we reengage, we reconnect, we re-member and we recollect. That’s why families and friends gather and stories are told; to re-member.

At our No-Agenda Retreat in Nashville, we all gathered around a table for lunch in a restaurant. Floyd asked, “Do you all remember the way Grady Nutt used to say the blessing before a meal?” Grady Nutt was a special guy to all of us there. Grady, unfortunately died in a plane crash many years ago, but we remember him.

So Floyd led us in the blessing, just as Grady would have done. We all joined hands and Floyd said exuberantly in a voice loud enough for all to hear, “He’s done it again!!!!”

What a beautiful acknowledgement of the provision of God. It was so wonderful to re-collect and recollect.
 

Beyoncé & Me

IF THERE WERE A TOP TEN LIST of people that I am not likely to be confused with, Beyoncé would probably be on the list. However, I do feel a certain kinship with her when it comes to being productive. Well, at least we’re both self-certain in our productivity, well-deserved or not.

Maybe you remember the viral Tweet, “We all have the same 24 hours that Beyoncé has”. The Tweet and its various iterations “took the web by storm in late 2013 as the megastar became the figurehead of not only having it all, but being able to somehow do it all too.” — www.infowetrust.com

One of my favorite books of recent days is called “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey. Here’s a description:

How do creatives – composers, painters, writers, scientists, philosophers – find the time to produce their opus? Mason Currey investigated the rigid Daily Rituals that hundreds of creatives practiced in order to carve out time, every day, to work their craft. Some kept to the same disciplined regimen for decades while others locked in patterns only while working on specific works.

Making the most of our time is daunting. I have a friend who posts and reposts some of the funniest stuff. Recently there was this:

I’m at that awkward stage between birth and death.

Let’s see if we can think of life in smaller, more manageable chunks, say a day at a time. In Currey’s book he uses his research of journals, biographies, letters, etc. to put together a picture of the daily routines of creative, productive people. The info-graphic folks at www.infowetrust.com illustrated it for us. Here’s an example:

So, I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about hobbies and how important it is too have one. Someone commented to me, “It seems like a hobby could be just a big waste of time.” I suppose there is a danger of that, especially if my hobby were, let’s say, watching reruns of “Law & Order”, a pastime I happen to enjoy. That’s a funny word—pastime.


Time is precious, and despite all the advice to “save time”, we really can’t. We have to make the most of it as it comes. The more I’ve looked in to this whole hobby idea, the more I’m convinced that a hobby can be a very good use of our time.

Saturday, for example, we took the Grand-Girls out on a hobby idea I’ve been looking in to. It’s called geocaching. We had a great time for a long time. Before I knew it four hours had passed. It was a wonderful four hours, with three of the most special people in my life. I highly recommend geocaching with your kids or grandkids.

Back to the time topic. Just for the fun of it, maybe you would want to track a few days of your life using Mason’s model. See if you notice some rhythms. Does your daily ritual include an investment in the things that are really important to you? If not, change it. It’s about time. And, just like Beyoncé and me; you have 24 hours every single day.