The Telescope Effect

Last night, I took a road trip back in my own timeline to find some music to write to that I didn't automatically feel the need to form an opinion about. Old habits die hard I guess. I ended up with a five album playlist and started to write. When I got to the end of the playlist, I found I had written just over 4000 words which is a good place to be. It's certainly not normal for me to write that much in one sitting, so I need to test this 'comfort music' theory out to see if that's what I've been missing all these years. There's certainly enough albums around that meet the criteria.

There was nothing even that special on it that you would even be interested in - only albums that mean something to me I suspect - like Brad Sinsel's War Babies, an album called Siogo from Blackfoot (which is odd because I don't like any of their other albums), the first two Japan albums and also the first Bon Jovi album which (shockingly) stands the test of time. They are all albums I have listened to thousands of times over the years and know inside out and back to front. 

If this helps me write fast and well, I am more than happy to keep digging. Now that music is streamed 100mph at you, it's easy to forget what it used to mean and how you used to treat it with a lot more respect. I guess we could say the same about a lot of things.

This habit of looking backwards is, I hope, not peculiar to me. I used to actively practice avoiding the past and once upon a time, did in fact totally master the art of 'no rear view mirror' thinking and found that I was able to sink my teeth deep into life and whatever project I was working on. When you take this approach to life, several things can happen to you - or at least they happened to me. The first is that I didn't see my mother for three years. Some of my extended family I didn't see for at least fifteen years. I missed funerals, holidays, birthdays - you name it, I wasn't there for it, so intent was I on building a castle in the sky with no foundations. 

The second thing that happened is that most people thought I was a bastard. There's a quote from George Clooney (out of From Dusk Til Dawn) that goes "I may be a bastard, but I'm not a fucking bastard" - that was me. It makes sense in my head that when the milk is spilt, there's no point in trying to mop it up to get it back in the bottle, but as human beings I found that we don't really like people to behave in that way. What human beings like is for as many people as possible to gather round and say how sorry they are that the milk is spilt. Some will offer to buy you new milk, some will slip in the milk and make even more of a mess - some of them won't even know what milk is but will stand around looking apologetic because that's what the others are doing.

Most of what we believe about the world, we haven't even experienced. I'm too young to remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated - I'm not even sure I had been born but I remember where I was when the space shuttle launched for the first time. I was in our physics classroom at school but I remember the day as a classic not because people were travelling into space but because me and my buddy Chalky decided to see what would really happen if you plugged an immersion heater into the mains and left it out of water while it heated up. Sure - it spoiled the whole 'important world event' thing that day but everybody present without exception learned a really valuable lesson about safety in the home.

For me, this is how life should be recalled. In personal moments of living - not via a satellite hook up. Sure, these things are important but unless they inspire you to do something spectacular of your own or have a direct impact on your own life, they are nothing but wallpaper. Things to discuss around the water cooler at best. 

Now I've written that down, I can see the hypocrisy of it. It's only by being exposed to these events that we're able to decide what is important and what isn't. Also, if the shuttle hadn't taken off that day, we would have been outside in the rain instead of in the physics class. 

If I hadn't been in the physics class and blown up an immersion heater, I wouldn't have been thrown out of the physics class and I wouldn't have made a new best friend called John in remedial physics, who in turn, wouldn't have come round to my house with that album by Blackfoot. We wouldn't have later formed a band with a guy called Steve who burned down the curtain for me on just how good the first two Japan albums are and... well, you get the picture by now.

All of these things are distinct points in time that span many years in the making - and yet I remember them all as a very, very short chain of events that don't even take one second to bring to mind as a singular image now.

Man, life sure is complicated.

That physics teacher though... he was a fucking bastard.