Two significant events–no, three–took place in my little town a few days ago. Two were scheduled to occur. Their outcomes could have been forecasted, albeit with varying success.
I, being the hermit I have said I would never become, missed both events. The reader will have to accept the following description of activities as coming, not from a witness, but from a story teller with the basic facts at hand.
The old folks (those in my peer group) got together at the community building to listen to and play music, as well as to spend a little time reminiscing about the past. They called it a reunion. By all reports, the evening was completely successful in achieving its purpose.
More than a few folks, just past middle-age, had the chance to perform or listen to the music they were playing and singing forty years ago. They saw people they hadn’t seen for years–or days, as the case may be. The folks who were not gifted with the talent (or the nerve) to get up on stage visited, and danced, and sang along.
My friend Randy, being a musician of some repute, and being of the appropriate age, was honored to be on the stage. He described the experience as outstanding. His word. Outstanding. When the old folks’ soiree was winding down, he took his leave to play another gig in a popular restaurant across the street.
On the other side of town, at the local university, the young folks assembled at what might have seemed to be a similar event. For weeks, the bands and individuals had been in preparation. Songs had been written and re-written; lyrics memorized and revised. Equipment was purchased, or repaired, or borrowed.
This night was the big event. The best talent on campus would be selected by judges, as well as by the audience. The prize was a recording session and an album for the winner. Better than that would be the adulation of a thousand fans who would almost certainly cheer and stand throughout the event.
As in the other event across town, the stage was the focal point; the participants were celebrated one after another. Music–and applause–filled the air. Band followed band, and single acts took their turns as well.
When the battle was complete and the votes were in, Molly stood in the victor’s spotlight. She was ecstatic–maybe even a little shocked. What a rush of emotion and adrenaline, all at once.
Two events, one for folks almost over the hill, the other for folks just beginning life as young adults. Truly an evening to put in the list of great memories for all involved.
But, wait a minute. I thought there were three events? What about the third one?
Oh yeah, that’s right. Three.
Funny thing. Randy went to play and sing at his little gig across the street from the old geezers’ get together. Molly left the university and went down the street with a group of friends and landed at the little restaurant where the old guy was playing.
Sometime in the next hour, Molly decided that perhaps she could sing with Randy. She didn’t know him, but she liked his music. And, she had won her contest, hadn’t she? She knew she could hold her own.
Randy readily agreed and they did some songs together.
It will never work, right? He’s one of the old has-beens from across the street. She’s a winner with a future. I’m thinking the old saying fits here–East is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.
I would be wrong.
The way I hear it, their duet on Amazing Grace is one of those moments I’ve talked about before, a moment that needs to be savored and then committed to memory. A moment to pull out in future times and recall with joy and gratitude.
Someone today told me that at one point in the song you could see a visible shiver go through the gathered crowd as the two voices blended together. It almost made me wish I hadn’t opted to stay home in my little cave with the Lovely Lady. Almost.
They meet and they mesh, like gears in a machine, one nearly-complete function leading to the next. The past teaches and encourages, while the future learns and adds its brilliant talents. The hand-off in the relay has begun, the baton is ready to be passed.
As much as I enjoy the telling of the story, one that brings joy to my soul, I somehow also have a sense of sadness. Oh, Randy and his friends at the reunion aren’t done yet. They’ve got a good many years left, in which they’ll make music and receive and give pleasure in the making.
But, the future belongs to Molly and her fellow musicians. Their stars are rising, regardless of how they choose to follow.
And, as I consider it, I realize why I am sad. As happens frequently, the larger lesson of the past and the future has already been brought to mind earlier today.
I received news this evening of a friend from school days whose father passed away today. My first reaction was to think about what it would mean to my friend. Birthdays without him, holidays with an empty chair, moments that will never be shared with one who she loved. She can never have him back again in this life. Never.
The finality of death, at least to us still living here in what some call this vale of tears, is irreversible. We can’t go back. As long as we live, we will miss our loved one. As long as we live.
Funny. My mind jumps to other news from the last few days. Babies are being born to my young friends at quite a brisk rate. I have seen notice after notice of new life, babies desperately loved by their parents, and I am happy with them. The future beckons.
I am struck with the realization that our Creator continues to sustain His handiwork in a way that brings both joys and sorrows, great losses and great gains into our lives. It has always been so.
The past moves on, and the future arrives.
Vale of tears? Only if you include both tears of sadness and tears of joy. I’ve cried both recently. Many others have also.
I’ve quite a few of those moments in the past, both joyous and melancholy, which have been saved and are brought to memory now and then. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be more in the future. I’m looking for more to add to my collection, every day.
The future is looking better all the time.
I believe I’ll keep moving.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
(Jeremiah 29:11 ~ NIV)
“Remember that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
(Vicki Corona ~ American dance instructor/author)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.