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Jack and Hugo in hatsFor Jack and Hugo life is one big party (as it should be)
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jack and hugo/couchOptimism is easy for dogs . . . all you need are multiple naps
Jack and Hugo in hats
jack and hugo/couch
Aspiring to live a dog's life is no mean feat
I suppose that the well-worn maxim, “you’re as young as you feel” is valid for dogs, trees and optimists. Jack and Hugo, the two pups who reside with me here in the midst of the cornfield, are blessed with an attitude of perpetual adolescence. Despite an age difference of 11 years the boys play, bark, wrestle, chase balls, dig holes and basically engage in barely controlled ecstasy and highly amusing mayhem from before dawn to well after dusk. It’s a daily ritual, and simply watching them romp and roll provides me with more than a little joy.
I cannot truly offer quantitative or anecdotal evidence pertaining to the inner-mosties of trees, neither deciduous nor coniferous, as they are rather stoic about their day-to-day proclivities. The opinions of oak, cedar, Kentucky coffee and pear are inscrutable at best. You’d think the weeping willow out in the far yard might be a bit more forthcoming with it’s thoughts, hopes and dreams . . . but it’s not. Still, since the trees continue to grow, since their leaves and limbs sway and wave with the wind, I can only assume they’re feeling relatively feisty.
But for me, alas, I cannot lay claim to canine or topiary lineage. I do know, as do most all who know me, that the badge of optimism does not reside in my wardrobe. I wouldn’t say I’m a full-tilt pessimist, but that’s partly because the word vaguely, almost, sort of rhymes with Bessemer, the guy who figured out how to produce steel from molten pig iron. I have no interest in steel or pig iron. I don’t believe in stealing and I’ve never ironed a shirt in my life. Pigs do taste good, so I suppose the cockeyed synaptic leap has something to do with bbq.
But I digress. Optimism, a cheery perspective on life, the unshakeable presumption that things will be better tomorrow than they are today has never been within my philosophical repertoire. While I couldn’t honestly admit that I expect the worst, neither could I concede that the events of the future will boast a smiling and positive visage. If anything, I hold to the largely unconsidered assessment that the more things change the more they will saunter an inch or two toward something less. Tis my nature, the way I’m apparently wired, and all the lectures on attitude adjustment and looking for the sunny side of life have little impact on my mental myopia.
I’ve often heard hackneyed clichés in the vein of “you must continue to move forward if you want to make progress.” Huh? I never quite found such statements profound or even necessarily true. I can recall backing a truck down the side of a mountain after discovering that the one-lane donkey path was blocked by a very inconsiderate boulder. In that case, with a 1,000-foot drop on one side, and one tire insisting on veering toward the abyss, going in reverse was definitely progress. In many ways, most having to do with the cultural aberrations birthed largely by technology out of control (or perhaps it’s technological dependence out of control) slapping the stick-shift into wayback mode does not strike me as a poor idea.
However, I’m merely citing conveniently flimsy examples to prove an indefensible position (I do that . . . confusion and distraction are powerful weapons . . . except when you admit that your linguistic motivation is to confuse and distract). Even in my stubbornness I will acquiesce to predominant logic and gracefully accept that some sort of change – preferably the type of alteration that does not involve the slings and arrows of ignominious defeat, failure or bad-hair days – is the prime facilitator of buoyant idealism.
But, a buoyant idealist I ain’t. It would be easy to claim that I simply live in a state of stasis, but the concept of time was raised in a military academy and insists upon marching toward an indeterminate finish line. It never stops, night or day, and places one dusty boot in front of the other. It’s an obnoxious process, and one that bothers me to no end since my preferred pace is that of molasses in January. Time flies . . . I saunter and wander.
So, I suppose that, like all things (again, exempting trees and dogs . . . which have a symbiotic relationship now that I think about it . . . one that should also include fire hydrants) I too am as young as I feel.
Right at the moment I feel about 263, which is about 211 years too heavy. This means it’s time for more coffee, and perhaps a day in the workshop.
Which brings us to guitars. Though many of you know this, I am something of a closet luthier (which is not nearly as perverted as it sounds). When I’m building string things -- bending sides for guitars, manipulating wood, fashioning finger boards, installing frets and figuring scale lengths – I forget the passage of time. I wouldn’t say I’m overcome with a feeling of optimism, but when creating a gizmo that makes a pleasant sort of noise I don’t consider questions of happy, sad, optimist, pessimist or the price of tea in China. I’m just there, without conscious thought, engaged fully in the moment and enjoying the task at hand.
At those times I’m exactly as old as I feel, and since the crafting of doohickeys leads me to forget that time exists, I must say I feel just dandy.