Good Music Bad Music

I love good music, and have realized that I should give no more of my precious time to be in the company of bad music. There’s only so many hours of listening time in the day. Good music helps to make my day go by with joy, energy, passion, memories and love. For me, it’s a simple choice. With all the music in the world, I choose to only listen to the extraoridinary ones. Ones that inspire and lift me up and get me out of a funk. I love that I’m always introduced to new music in unlikely places, and relish the opportunity to learn and be comforted from new music every day.

But I’m cautious… There will always be bad music lurking around every corner hoping to rent space in my brain.

I know you’ll agree with me.

…….

Now go back to the start of this post, and replace the word “music” for “people” and reread.

Advertisements

Lean On Me

Lean on me,
when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…

For,
it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on…

I have heard this Bill Withers song, Lean on Me, hundreds of times in my life… possibly thousands. And not until tonight did these words really sink in thanks to the fine boys and girls at Willink Middle School at Rebekah’s chorus concert.

At the risk of ridicule I will say I actually thought to myself “Oh, really? Those are the lyrics?”

The lyrics are simple and authentic. It’s an amazing song about what it means to be a loyal friend. One that looks out for one another. We all need them, know who they are in our own lives. We appreciate their support when we need it most, and we’re ready to answer the call to return the favor.

I know, call me Captain Obvious.

A Game of Humility

photo 1Coaching baseball is my highlight of the week. With AJ. Being outside. In the warmth. In the rain. In the cold. It doesn’t matter. Away from the responsibilities of life is a welcome distraction from the weight of everything else. Instructing kids on the nuances of a game riddled with life lessons and humbling moments is a privilege that I’ve been able to maintain for the last 9 years.

Tonight is a night I will never forget. We were playing the Angels. Their head coach, Paul, is a good friend. We both attend the same church. We’ve coached together when our eldest sons (Joey and Dalton) were playing years earlier in the 9-10 league. He is honorable, respectful, and a great head coach. I’ve learned much from him.

We both longed for this game. My Rangers. His Angels. The anticipation for this game was elevated even more when Mother Nature rained out the original date postponing the game to Sunday evening.

As the away team we were up to bat first.

Their pitcher was a strike throwing fastball machine. 3 up. 3 down. They came to bat and scored 5 runs.

The 2nd inning was more of the same. 3 up for the Rangers. 3 down. Another five spot for the Angels.

At the top of the 3rd we were looking at a 0-10 deficit and no indication that anything was going to change. John the other coach and I actually discussed measures of treating the rest of the game as a learning session—if it got more out of hand, and playing kids in positions they wouldn’t normally to try to get them some experience. Not the way I was hoping the most anticipated game of the schedule was going to go down. I was hoping for a battle. Maybe a 6-6 tie going into the final inning. Tension. Nervousness. A last at bat base hit of walk-off single to close out the game. Kids piling on top of kids. No mater who won. In my mind this was to be the game of the year, and instead it was a blowout.

Then something happened. Paul replaced his ace with a pitcher who was not as strong. Our kids got on base, scored runs and we got right back in the game. In fact, at the bottom of the 4th inning the score was 10-10. A far cry from the how the game started. Now, we ended up losing 10-12, but that’s not really the story here. The story is about how the coach of the Angels didn’t pour it on. How he knew his second pitcher was not as strong but he wanted to get him in the game. Understanding the bigger picture that 9-10 year old kids having feelings that are fragile. That every ballplayer should have fun first, then win second. No matter the cost. Even in the moment I knew he was feeling this way about our game. He didn’t have to tell me. I could see it in his face. My kids left the field tonight feeling good that they battled back, not deflated because they got crushed. They didn’t give up, and had a shot to win. After the game Paul and I talked and he confirmed to me what I already suspected, and I was very grateful. Hopefully the next time our two teams meet in June the outcome will be more like he and I hoped for this game. A nail-biter to the end. Unfortunately I will be in Phoenix for work that day, and can’t be there. Unless Mother Nature intervenes again.

Humility is something the game of baseball teaches a person in spades. And they are lessons for players and coaches alike.

I will miss it when AJ grows up and it’s gone.

Mutiny on the Steps of St Paul’s

PipesSome of you may know that I am in the choir of St Paul’s Catholic Church.

If not well, I am, and I sing bass. I enjoy it quite a lot. I have many fond memories of singing in church. In weddings (my own included) funerals, cantoring and on holiday’s. In fact, my participation in the choir has kept my wavering faith on the level more than I care to admit, but I fear my choir days may be over.

It seems the parish council decided to let Ron our music director go due to budgetary reasons. As of May 31st he will be gone. A shame since the choir adds much to a service, and provides a small sliver of energy to a congregation that seems to dwindle by the Sunday. For those who don’t know Ron, he is über talented. He was the reason the choir was so good. He’s a musical prodigy, has 2 masters degrees in music, and gives liturgical backstory on songs and composers like none other. He pushed us to sing music way outside our comfort zone (Read: in German, Croatian, and in 8 part harmony…). And despite a well fought effort to get things reconsidered by many meetings and email threads by the choir members against parish council, (Which would make the ending of Dead Poet’s Society weak in the knees.) the end result stays the same. Ron is out.

The congregation suffers. The choir is in turmoil and many members are leaving out of frustration as to how the news was “handled”. Some leaving the parish all together.

A small representation for the Catholic church as a whole.

Not sure where I stand yet, but with an already wavering faith it’s not looking good.

The Ties That Bind.

Ties that BindMy son Joseph Paul is wise beyond his years.

Sensing my frustration Saturday morning he asked why. I told him being in Michigan, away from our home, our life, our dog Max takes it’s toll. Compound that with Rebekah’s dress she brought being way too small, forgetting black socks or not bringing the right dress shirt, or shoes and not being able to just go in our closets and switch them may sound trivial but that too takes its toll. All this slows us down and we were in serious danger of being late for the one event we came to Michigan for. Add the fact that we are here in on Mother’s Day weekend was a blessing but sitting in a car for 6 hours as we drive back to New York on Sunday is hardly the great day his Mother deserves.

Joey looked and me and said, “I understand, that’s hard. Is there as anything I could do help ease your stress?”

Um, what? My son, asking me if he could help my emotional state? Aren’t I the father and he the son? Like I said, my son is wise beyond his years. Joey has the gift of understanding, observation and logical thought. He is smart, compassionate and a true old soul. It’s an honor to be his Father.

“Just be respectful to your siblings and family while we are here. Listen to your Mother, and would you like to wear this blue tie to Annie’s First Communion?”

Joey responded, “Would it ease some of your stress?”

“Yes it would, Joey.”

“Okay I will. Show me how to tie it.”

So we sat on the spare bed in the upstairs of my Mother-In-Law’s home and I showed him, just like my Father showed me. It was a blessed moment, and not because he wore a tie, but because he reminded me that sometimes to make it through the day we may need someone to support us.

No matter the age.