Mythos & Marginalia

life notes; flaws and all

j.g. lewis

original content and images ©j.g. lewis

a daily breath...

A thought du jour, my daily breath includes collected and conceived observations, questions of life, fortune cookie philosophies, reminders, messages of peace and simplicity, unsolicited advice, inspirations, quotes and words that got me thinking. They may get you thinking too . . .

Mondays are just young Fridays

It is a substantial record: Clues.
   The 1980 album by Robert Palmer took new wave sensibilities of the late ‘70s and ushered in the magnitude of what would become standard ‘80s popular music.
   I listened to the record intently last week, twice in a row. It has been decades since I have done that, but I had to. I enjoyed listening to the music that much.
   Years ago, I used to do it often. As a teenager, I remember the excitement of buying a new LP and listening to it repeatedly for hours and days. These were the times when radio wasn’t playing a lot of rock and roll. I grew up in a city that had only one AM station for the longest time (until a country music station took to the airwaves), and it was more focused on news, current events, and mostly my mom’s kind of music. Evenings they would play to a younger generation, but only the more popular pop songs (there was also an FM station but it played only classical music.
   Records and Rolling Stone magazine were then my link to real music.
   Back then you would play new records repeatedly, learning the songs, studying the lyrics and cover art. Elton John’s Don’t Shoot Me comes to mind and, of course, Dark Side of the Moon.
   As my music collection grew over the years, as important as each record was, albums would be played less frequently; I had more albums to choose from. It had to be a damn good record to be played frequently.
   I know that changed when I owned my first car. The radio was still reliable, and I used to tape albums to play in the car’s cassette deck. Prior to that, listening to music was a stationary experience. Because of the limitations of the turntable, you had to stay in one place and listen, usually on headphones.
   I decided I wouldn’t buy any new albums this year, but instead listen to the music I already owned. I have a lot to select from, in all genres, on both vinyl and compact disc. I listen to music a lot, and in past years would frequently visit record stores to search out and both new releases and unfamiliar vintage albums by artists I was both familiar and unfamiliar with.
   I’ve now got a lot of alums that all need a good listening to.
   Clues was one of those albums.
   The album rocked a little harder than Secrets, his previous effort, but also dwelled in the synth-pop territory. One song, I Dream of Wires, written by new wave darling Gary New is sonically propulsive, a noticeable change of direction from the sophisticated strains of Palmer’s soulful, occasionally jazzy, sound. Palmer was the first artist I heard described as “blue-eyed soul”.
   This record captured the spirit of the times, without now seeming nostalgic. His albums that followed, both solo efforts and his work with The Power Station (an unlikely hook up with members of Duran Duran and Chic) continued in a similar groove, appealing to the Pepsi generation on MTV with his movie-star good looks and videos with the highly stylized back-up babes he became associated with.
   As I flip through my music collection, I am finding more and more albums worthy of re-discovering. All this music was purchased for a reason, and no doubt hasn’t been listened to with the intensity it deserves to be.

02/19/2024                                                                                        j.g.l.

truth or dare

Landscapes, like weather forecasts,
altered daily. Attitudes of how
we view our world, however,
remain stagnant.

Acid rain, climate change, dangers
inconvenient as carbon footprints in
freshly-fallen snow. We wait only
for it all to wash away.

Fossil fuels and solar flares, impotent
political dialogue of truth or dare.
Do we pay any heed past what
remains of the day?

Shame and blame living as we are.
What we do, or what we can do?
If only we would comprehend
how we have devolved.

Temperatures rising, though you
couldn’t tell it now. Common sense
approach far too common. We accept
what we cannot know.

We struggle, unknowingly, ignorant
of our ways. Messages lack meaning.
All talk. No action. Zero-sum gain
if all we do is complain.

02/16/2024                                                                                          j.g.l.

work in progress

I need to remind myself, more often,
who I am and what I have become.
More so, I need to remind myself of
what I am becoming.
If I am truly a work in progress, how
much progress have I made?
How can I tell if I don’t remind myself
or question myself?
Only I can really know.

02/15/2024                                                                              j.g.l.

I'm like a pencil;
sometimes sharp,
most days
other times
dull or
Still I write.

j.g. lewis
is a writer/photographer in Toronto.

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It Is A Rite

Posted on June 23, 2021 by j.g.lewis Leave a comment

Again, today, I fell into my morning routine. We all do.
   Routines: we have them, no matter how strict or subliminal they end up.
   Mornings we bathe, dress, eat breakfast (alone or before anyone else is awake), check the news feed or your bank account on your ever-present mobile device, and then set off to work (the same route, the same streets or street car number); perhaps a stop at the coffee shop, banal chatter with the barista-of-the-day, obligatory greetings to office mates or tales of last night’s game; you get the picture. It’s an everyday day. Most days.
   If you substitute one item for another, an instance here or there, and we all do the same things, mostly every day, whether we pay attention or not.
   For me, during these pandemic days, it begins with a morning walk before the streets get crowded or well before much of Toronto’s humanity is even awake. I like the silence. I’m not ready to talk to anybody, except for the afore-mentioned banter with the barista, and rarely get more than 1,300 steps into the day without my morning cup of personality. Then I wander.
   Following my morning constitutional (maybe an hour and a bit later) and prior to preparation for whatever I am about to do, I will take a moment for only my self.
   I sit at my desk every morning, before tearing into whatever needs to be done, and reach over to the bookcase on my left and, without looking, grab a book of poetry. With the same attention to detail, I flip open a page and I read aloud the poem in front of me.
   It has become my daily ritual.
   Now, I will often read a poem or selection of poems at different points of the day, but the first poem of the day, selected randomly, is the most important to me. I know it is the most purposeful reading I will do today. I know, often depending on the day, that I will eventually (and undoubtedly) come across some disturbing news, critical information, or must-read utterly repugnant corporate missive that will surely set the remainder of my day off kilter.
   For this reason (and many ancillary excuses) this ritual is important to me, especially after a protracted period where many of our rituals — personal or public — have been stripped away by this pandemic.
   We are only now able, after some 15 months, to gather for small ceremonies like weddings, funerals, or birthday celebrations. We are now into the second year where graduation from any form of education has been limited or prohibited. These are all time-honoured public rituals that signify dramatic changes in our lives. Weddings, birthdays, even graduations can somehow be worked around, but grief is a ritual that must be acknowledged.
   Rituals. We have them, or are meant to have them. COVID-19 and its variants have taken many away.
   The Oxford dictionary defines a ritual as “a prescribed order of performing rites” or “a procedure regularly followed”. A routine, in the same dictionary, is described as “a regular course or procedure, an unvarying performance of certain acts.”
   There is a difference, however slight, between routine and ritual.
   A ritual might not be the early-morning jog, or yoga practice. It might however be that moment where you roll out your mat, kneel into your space and whisper a slight prayer or mantra that will pull you through the class.
   Your ritual might be sharpening three or four pencils to their finest point, so you can begin your morning pages; that 11 or 17 minutes of a timed state-of-conscious writing that brings your thoughts into focus and helps define your purpose.
   Perhaps you light a candle, or incense, each night as settle in with a novel or some self-help book or another. Maybe the candle is better spent next to a hot bubble bath where you cleanse both body and mind of the residue of the day.
   Your own ritual may, in fact, be a daily meditation. This may take place while you sit cross-legged (or not), eyes closed or wide-open, and ponder where you are or what you have experienced. It may also take place while you walk around the block after sunset, each step expanding your thoughts or intentions.
   Purposeful time to yourself is a ritual you shouldn’t ignore. You are the only one that can do that for you.
   It is your choice.
   For me it is a random poem, faithfully read each day.
   Choose what best serves you. Realize; no recognize, what breaks up your routine. Feel the difference. Know the difference. Know it is your ritual, and not so much routine, that gets you through the days.
   Not only is it a rite; it is your right.

© 2021 j.g. lewis

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