Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunday night at the First Baptist Church....

I'd spent the majority of the weekend in the woods, drinking beer and smoking meat and engaged in general male camaraderie with some fellow neanderthals. It was hot and it was fun. Needless to say I needed a shower in the worst way when I got home Sunday afternoon. My bride was thrilled with the mud on the outside and the smell of sweaty men inside her Tahoe. Anyway, I got the needed shower and we proceeded to go hear her mother sing at the First Baptist Church. I figured I'd washed the dirt off of my outside and now I could go commune with the Baptists and cleanse the weekend's debauchery from my soul (there's "Power In The Blood!")
My mother-in-law sings with a group called The Silvertones. They're a group of senior citizens that sing old-time gospel sort of music. My grandfather used to call them "singings." I reckon that's what I went to this Sunday night - a "singing." It's a huge choir - a hundred or so folks. I don't remember the names of many of the songs...doesn't matter. The music's not what I took away from the evening. A little background...
I've documented well some of the wars I wage with my own mind. I've drastically changed my body over the last two years but my state of mind is still short-circuited from the years spent in poor self-image and lack of self-esteem. With the weight gone I now find a variety of other things to seriously dislike (even hate) about myself. Mostly my lack of (what I deem) success in any one area. I've tried a thousand things. Failed at most of 'em. I now sit here forty-six years old, pretty much convinced that the best of times are gone. I've missed any opportunity at making my life notable beyond taxes and a mortgage and I'm fairly convinced my wife regrets the decision she made to walk down that aisle thirteen years ago.
I've got a big step I want to take and not discussed with many folks - a magazine the concept of which was born in my head some fifteen or sixteen years ago. 'Course then I wanted it to be a hard copy publication. In the last year I've come to realize that most publications I read are online magazines. Hence the notion of this magazine once again has life in the corner of my mind where I keep dreams (that corner is getting smaller and smaller.) I've even been offered assistance from a very talented relative who can assist with web design and all the stuff I know nothing about. He says my concept is good and we ought to run with it. His youthful exuberance should be rubbing off on me. To some degree it has. But I live in paralyzing fear that if I give this a shot and it goes nowhere it'll join the list of dreams that became duds. And, looming large, we're back to that number - forty-freakin'- six. Why start something at this age? I'm staring at fifty and starting to hear peers whisper about retirement plans. So really what's the point of me taking this leap now? Life's half was a helluva ride. Just enjoy your morning coffees, your afternoon martinis and baseball. Start eating dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon and marking bowel movements on the calendar.
But then there stood those Silvertones, singing and smiling Sunday night. Their average age is 74. They've raised families and had careers. It would be easy to say their best years are behind them. But in talking to them I realized that, for them, every year is the best year. As long as there's breath in their lungs their journey continues. They're leaving Sunday for a tour, taking their songs on the road. There's musicians in their midst, learning new instruments and expanding their repertoire. There's one woman who writes and is constantly working on new stories. One fellow stood up to give what I reckon they call a "testimony." (I grew up Methodist..if somebody stood up in church it was to announce what to bring for covered dish or how much registration fees for softball would cost...I don't remember "testimonies.") This fellow is a retired Marine - in his early 70's. He still looks the part - tall and lean and cut like he lifts weight daily. However he has now found the one foe that even a bad-ass Marine can't conquer - bone cancer. He told us best-case scenario was four years. He didn't cringe at the thought, though - he stood there with a smile on his face and told us that if all he had was four years he was going to make it a very busy four years for him and his wife. When the words left the doctor's mouth I would've quit - he got excited about how they were going to spend the time that was left.
It's just not fair - I'd talked myself into quitting..and here are these folks making me ashamed that I'd let a defeatist attitude creep in again. I reckon forty-six isn't so old. I reckon I need to go to more "singings."