Woodrow in Progress – Is there something we learn? Something we get to keep?
I was running a calculus recently on how long I have left on this earth (according to average lifespan), and how many things I might have the chance to learn and actually gain a degree of mastery over.
Supposedly it takes about 10 years, so that means I can pick 3 new things at best. Piano? Doubt it. Banjo? Possibly. Painting? Fucking hell. Short story writing? Maybe. Gardening? Possible. Fishing? Hell yes.
Then I started to think about the things I have always thought I was good at, at least in part because I have already spent so long doing them. I quickly realized the relatively obvious: they are all things that, once ignored, atrophy quickly—no matter how good I once was (or thought I was).
Our bodies forget how to do things before our minds realize we aren't the same person we were before.
Athletics, romance, art, business—it’s all the same. If attention wanes for too long, you have to start over. And worse, at some point you have to dispossess yourself of the delusion that you can reclaim that lost talent or confidence even if you do the work.
I’m not saying that I’m not lucky. You wouldn’t believe how lucky I am.
But there comes a time when we have to choose the things (and ever-so-carefully) that we spend our precious time doing.
That’s all I’ve been thinking about lately. Along with the fact that we borrow so much; that nothing is ever really ours.
Does it have to be this way of slow attrition? What if we instead accept that the things we claim as ours are just so for a while, and then we pass them on? What if we conceive of them in a more expansive way, thereby embracing our capacity to share memories, talents, dreams?
I had a great time shooting the shit backstage at the Cotton Club in Atlanta, GA with Chris Robinson in '95, when I was just starting out. I remember him saying something to the effect of:
“It’s all one big song,” and "We’re just pulling down our part of it."
Makes even more sense to me the older I get.
Here’s a (recent-ish) phone recording demo that I’ve been playing with, "Is There Something We Learn?"
You can keep it.
Grateful for my part of the big song and yours too! Thanks for reminding me to be ever discerning of how I spend my precious time. Off the interwebs and to the garden I go with my cats and pup. Love the track!
Never heard you go for the high vocal notes before. Good stuff. This is my first time here so this is the first new thing I've heard in such a long time. Been with ya since AS, though.