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 wasn’t about age; it is still about the music.
   I, and an almost-full arena, took in a spectacular concert last night as The Who played Toronto.
   Augmented by a full orchestra, the timeless British band gave us two hours of absolute magic; full of the sonic glory you expect from guys who have, at several points in history, proved that rock and roll is what it is.
   The Who could have spent the evening simply trotting out a career’s worth of hits, but instead opened with a string of compositions from the rock opera Tommy. Later in the night we were treated to a solid set from Quadrophenia. Both albums go well back into the ‘70s.
   Of course they played, and played well, the songs that many people know more from the CSI television series, but several of the big hits where left out (they did not play I Can See For Miles my absolute favourite song ever), but that was okay. Last night was all about the music.
   I’ve long considered The Who to be mostly about Pete Townshend, the guitarist who wrote much of the band’s catalogue. Now, at 77 years of age, Townshend is still in fine form. But so is lead singer and front man Roger Daltry, 78, singing and screaming in a manner that defies age.
   I’ve seen the band a couple of times in my lifetime, and chances are I will not have the opportunity to see them again. This may be The Who’s last tour, but then Townshend said he would quit touring in 1982.
   So there is hope, and there is still the music.

10/03/2022                                                                     j.g.l.

 

Giving Into Time

Gardens across the city are looking tired.

The flowers and foliage have for months been growing, blooming, celebrating the glorious sunshine and making our days on this big, beautiful planet ever more enjoyable.

But, come October, even the most curated gardens and manicured lawns are showing signs of wear and tear from the dipping nocturnal temperatures, lack of rain, care, or even neglect.

The cycle from spring, through summer, and now autumn, becomes more obvious each day. Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Echinacea, once-boastful geraniums and hydrangeas are giving into time.

I can’t even find a dahlia anywhere.

Our landscape is getting darker.

The colours of flowers we count on to fill our lives will soon only be available in photographs, florist shops, or bouquets of the day at the market. We take it wherever we can, whenever we can, but we will wait patiently for next year’s gardens to bring back the everyday joy as the cycle will begin once again.

10/02/2022                                                                            j.g.l.

Truth and Reconciliation

truth
comes at a cost

honour
those who have already paid

respect
the process

healing
takes time

forgiveness
takes even longer

 

In Canada, September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day honours the Survivors of residential schools, the children who never returned home, and their families and communities.
Orange Shirt Day is an indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day intended to raise awareness of the individual, family and community inter- generational impacts of residential schools and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”.

09/30/2022                                                                            j.g.l.

wonderful memories

Nostalgia comes from the past.
At times our memory is tested in the present tense.
Maybe we should be more concerned with creating moments now that provide wonderful memories in the future.
The past has passed.

10/06/2022                                                                            j.g.l.

Because You Can

Some days we wander without destination in mind.  There is nothing specific that needs to be accomplished during that particular day and anything, really, is possible.
   The only true certainty -— attentive to the fact that nothing is truly certain — is that you will eventually arrive home, full of experience, later in the day.
   We need more days like that, unplanned as they are, as hopeful as you want them to be.
   Along the way, throughout the day, you may notice things that you haven’t before, or pop into an unfamiliar store to look at things you don’t really need (or be reminded of something that you do). You might even stop for lunch and nourish your body with street meat (or a sandwich) knowing the days ahead might not allow the opportunity for an impromptu picnic with time to people-watch or deal haphazardly with your thoughts.
   Make sure you stop, once in a while, simply because you can. Hydrate. Refresh yourself with a couple of deep breaths.
   Forget the notion that each day must have a plan, a purpose, or some sort of prosperity. Maybe time can be as well wasted as it is well spent?
   You are worth the time.
   It’s worth taking that time.
   Wander.
   It is what you do on days like these, as few and far between as you make them, when they simply happen because you made up your mind to make them happen.
   As I have said before, we need more days like that (or something very similar).
   Make the day a good one.

10/04/2022                                                                         j.g.l.

cloud songs

               Look closely at your truths.
   Everyday experiences,
small blessings, are life’s little gifts
     that we need to acknowledge
as they present themselves
   The when is as much a why
         and for each
     we should be thankful.
                 Truth.

09/29/2022                                                                     j.g.l.

I'm like a pencil;
sometimes sharp,
most days
well-rounded,
other times
dull or
occasionally
broken.
Still I write.

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

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More Lost Than Found

Posted on February 18, 2015 // 1 Comment

 

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Lifeless mitten lays in wait. Abandoned, stiff
atop a crunchy snow bank. The sidewalk
passes by, unknowing. Throbbing red fingers,
a child’s frostbitten hand, shiver beneath a
coat sleeve. Somewhere. Seeking warmth,
comfort against winter’s harsh reality.

Unclaimed. A mitten separated from its
purpose. We all, young and older, leave
pieces of ourselves scattered throughout time.
Paperbacks, pens, sunglasses, yoga mats,
carelessly or accidentally discarded.
A laundromat sock with no mate.

Possessions or promises, more lost
than found. Feelings, emotions cast
astray. Hopelessly lost. A lone mitten,
pieces of ourselves. Where do we
go when a bit of us is missing, when
our purpose is unrealized?

Where then, when we seek warmth.
are we? Waiting to be reunited with
missing parts? Another hand to hold?
Another day. Our fingers still numb, the
lone mitten still there. The sidewalk
passes by. We remain incomplete.

Music and the Moments

Posted on February 11, 2015 Leave a comment

 

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Alice Cooper turned 67 last week.

It may not mean a lot to a lot of people, or it may mean everything to a generation of fans, but it meant something to me and I didn’t totally realize why when the date flashed on the screen. Each day we hear news of a celebrity birthday, or death, but this one scratched a scab on my psyche.

Alice Cooper was my first. He was the first singer/band I actively followed, and the album Killer was my first record. Well, I owned records before that, and I’d always listened to my brother’s albums (it started The Monkees), but Killer was the first rock and roll record I had an interest in. I didn’t own the whole thing; I was only a shareholder (my brother was 50 cents short, and managed to talk me out of the few quarters I had), but that initial investment launched me on a lifetime enjoyment of music.

I finally owned a piece of rock and roll.

Killer was everything rock music should be to a 1l-year-old kid. From the cover image of the boa constrictor to lyrics that fascinated and delighted a young mind, the album was dangerous. It was revolution; it was three-chord, loud and proud, guitar-based rock and roll with a backbeat big enough to wake the dead (or your parents). Cooper was a screamer, and the band played to its shock rock limits and were, perhaps, even more creative than what others offered at the time

The music sounded like everything you heard and read about the musician.

Through the years other artists have come and gone, or fallen out of favor. Some have remained cherished favorites; I still can’t explain a lifelong affinity for Pete Townsend and The Who, or Joni Mitchell. I was saddened by the news of Joe Cocker’s recent passing, still have a moment of repose on the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and have millions of moments inspired by other artists and albums.

But Cooper is significant because he led me into this journey. He was my white rabbit. The moment the turntable’s needle hit the vinyl, I embarked on this path of searching for great music. I’ve purchased, collected, and accumulated thousands of records. My love of music led me to writing a weekly review column for a daily newspaper, and eventually led to a full-fledged career as a writer. It may have been because of Alice Cooper.

That’s not to say Cooper remained at the top of my list. When I recently changed cities, I was forced to select only about 500 albums from a massive collection to bring with me. None of Cooper’s albums made the move.

I guess Cooper no longer spoke to me. I knew I tired, decades ago, of the form and format of most of his follow-ups. He never again rose to the brilliance of Welcome To My Nightmare, the epic 1975 disc in which everything the singer represented was distilled into a near-perfect thematic album. The record contained perhaps the first top 40 single that openly spoke of domestic violence, and was stuffed with the lush keyboards and arrangements producer Bob Ezrin would later use with Kiss (an act that took more than a few moves from Cooper’s playlist. I hesitate in using the term ‘rip off”)

But it’s not as much about the music as it is about the moments etched into the dusty grooves of an LP, the clean crisp bytes of a CD, or the hiss and pop of a mixed tape.

We all have moments in time easily brought back by music. A love song, a chorus, chord or hook that takes you back to doing nothing important with teenaged friends, or a particular night at one particular party, a first kiss and more, a breakup; or a person, a lover, or a daughter. Memory. The songs may belong to the artist, but the music belongs to you.

Alice Cooper’s birthday took me back over four decades.

Now Cooper is not getting any younger . . . and neither am I. Still I can return, even if just briefly, and fondly remember a time, a certain time, when I discovered the magic of music. I found something that interested me enough to keep listening. It was my introduction to pop culture.

There are many such moments, and others I probably reference more than Alice Cooper. I still remember the first time I played Springsteen’s Jungleland and was in awe of not only the melody and musicianship but of the sheer lyrical poetry. Behind Blue Eyes from Who’s Next does the same thing. A certain selection by Yo-Yo Ma can transport me to a certain place. I remember the radio recognizing a public shift in style each time I hear I Love the Night Life by Alicia Bridges, or Doobie Brothers Minute by Minute or, much later, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.

All are moments marked by a particular passage or piece of music, steps on our ladder as we move on and move up. And we keep moving up that ladder.

Music changes. So do we. Alice Cooper is older, and so am I.

Moments and reflection, these days, are not as easy to come by. Artists, like us mere mortals, will not live forever physically, yet through their music times remain immortal. That, in itself, is a reason to keep on listening.

“Man makes your hair grey, he’s your life’s mistake
All you’re really looking for’s an even break
He lies right at you, you know hate this game
he slaps you once in a while and
you live and love in pain.
She cries alone at night too often,
he smokes and drinks and don’t come home at all.
Only women bleed . . .”
                                                       – Alice Cooper

She Wants To Breathe

Posted on February 4, 2015 Leave a comment

 

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Restless now. Really for months, an urge
a need, to do something. Feel something.
An interest in objects, as much as anything.
Certain things mark a time. A sugar bowl, a
cookie tin; items, almost sacred. Empty, at
a glance, yet brimming with moments.

Grandmother long gone, she now finds
herself in a place. Voices. Ushered forward
by a child, young woman now, and held back
by memories. Her flesh, her blood, those
who raised her. Comfort. Restless still.
Words and thoughts, she wants to write.

She wants to write, but never has. Not like
this. Father’s firm disposition, a mother’s
tenderness, a voice that softened her reality.
She wants to write, like she wants to believe.
Decisions made, not regretted, but pondered.
The ink is fresh, the pen permanent.

A snap of memories, broken, diminished joys
not of parenthood, but of partners. She wants to
write about love; past and present and perhaps
more. She wants to write like she wants to breathe.
Ink flows smoothly. Her blood. History always
an interest, this is more personal.

Shameless, blameless admissions, only to herself
and a page presenting itself as a stranger. Now
it offers its skin as a lover. The smooth, thick pen,
heavy and hard between her fingers, finds a rhythm.
An object desired. She wants to write, like she
wants to feel. She has, and will again.

Never like this. Minute details reiterate her faults. The
pen’s nib, ever constant, captures lives left behind,
but still within. If only her heart, if not in her life.
The pen moves forward, she still there. Now. Every
letter, each stanza reveals a voice. A need.
She wants to write, like she wants to bleed.

Of Patience and Pain

Posted on January 28, 2015 // 4 Comments

 

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Of Patience and Pain

Saturday night in the ER, it could be 11 or
thereabouts. Time matters not when you are
waiting. Each visitor here has a purpose,
they would not be here had they not. Incessant
florescent lighting obliterates all time. It
could be morning, as easily as it is night.

Settling into chairs of modicum comfort, we wait.
Mothers clutch screaming children, a husband
and a wife, not speaking. Who knows what each
is feeling? Minutes pass slower, punctuated by
coughing and crying. Conversations about nothing,
ailments and symptoms. Disease. I am here, alone.

Why bother someone else with a pain I cannot
control; a pain only I can explain. It is personal.
We all sit, amidst yesterday’s newspaper and
someone else’s problems. We muster the patience
to deal with the sickness, the boredom, the pain,
and the antiseptic scent of helplessness.

An elderly couple sits, three hours now, immune
to the commotion of reckless drunks with bloody
noses. They are quiet, respectful. More people come
and go. And wait. Gradually others take their turn, as
the rest of us wait, not knowing when our time
will come. We hope it is soon, but know it is not.

The elderly gentleman does not remove his hat. She,
tired and hurting, rests her head on his shoulder. He
is her strength. He is there for her, as always and now.
At one point he stands, takes her arm and guides
her to the washroom. He waits outside, as if guarding
his cherished possession. She is there for him. Always.

All those hours in the ER, he held her hand the
entire time. I know nothing of her ailments or
of their history, but I recognize, can plainly see,
all that is there. Love. In his palm, it is in their
lives. A type of love I do not own, perhaps a kind
of love I might have known. Not here.

This couple, a lifetime of love that keeps them
holding hands, in sickness and in health. Closer
now. Till death do them part. Patience, even
through the commotion of the ER and all they
have experienced in life. Love. Time matters
not, when you have the patience required.

The all-important Hyphen

Posted on January 21, 2015 // 2 Comments

 

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The all-important Hyphen

The hyphen: there is really not a lot to it.

At first glance, a small stroke using up less ink than a capital I (or lower
case for that matter), the hyphen holds many roles but is mainly used as a
joiner.

The hyphen brings words together.

Conveniently located adjacent to the numerals on your keyboard, the hyphen is
one of those reliable punctuation marks in a writer’s tool kit. It’s fairly
popular, rather practical, occasionally suffers from overuse, but has never
really been one of my go-to keys; I’m more of a semicolon guy.

The hyphen’s use and usefulness cannot be ignored. It’s helps modify and can
brighten up even the most euphorically-sunny day, further define a well-dressed
man in a made-to-measure three-piece suit, and can attach lovers joined by their
wedding vows. The hyphen, many times, can also be used to delineate parts within
a written date, or represent a span in time.

I suppose the weight of the hyphen really just occurred to me as I, again,
thought of my father and of his recent passing. I glance at his obituary and the
88 years summed up with a simple keystroke. Beneath his name sits a date of
birth and a date of passing; important dates indeed, but what of all the years
in between?

My father was just that, a true father. A Dad. But he was also son, and a
brother as well. He was a husband, uncle, brother-in-law, and a friend,
colleague, partner and co-worker. With each of those roles came responsibilities
he never seemed to shirk in a life filled with events and occasions, holidays,
graduations, weddings and anniversaries, career advancement, new cars and homes,
and fatherhood.

All those hours spent guiding his children, the lessons learned and wisdom
passed on, all represented by an insignificant hyphen.

It got me thinking about all the time between the start and stop of his life,
and mine. He made so much of his time on this planet, and I am just here.

I’m living in the hyphen right now and I have no idea when my full stop might
come. I would like to think the present is just another comma in the pages of a
life that still has many sentences and chapters to go, but maybe it’s time to be
more.

There are goals still not realized, and a purpose not fully defined. I have a
great deal to offer my family and friends, and to those I have yet to meet.
There is more life to live, and more air to breathe. I’d like to think there are
many hyphens still within my grasp.

I guess its about deciding to make the hyphen important and squeezing as many
memories and moments into this one small dash. I need now to be more open to
changes that will inevitably happen, to be prepared to accept compromise and
compassion.

It’s also time now to start paying attention to the smaller hyphens, the ones
that fall between self and awareness, or realization. Or preservation. Call it
self-examination. I don’t think I’m much different than any of us presented with
our middle-aged life (talk about a shocking hyphen). We all look at where we
were, and consider where we are going. How we will get there, and where exactly
is “there”?

I know I need to worry less about situations beyond my control, to be less
suspicious of others, and make myself more susceptible to options and emotions
presented to me. I need to be a more-reliable brother, and father. I need to be
a better friend, and I need to be able to become a stronger person. I need to
forgive more and criticize less (myself and others). I need to show a greater
aptitude for gratitude.

I need to live my life more by the example set by my father, and less like the
reckless self-absorbed teenager who once doubted his advice.

As stubborn as I am, I’ll still live by my words (or I will try), but in doing
so I will pay more attention to the hyphenation, beginning with less self-doubt and
more self-respect.

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