Apr 282017
 

Family, at its best, is the source of much happiness. and, nothing says family better than our friends Pete and Jan.

Walking into the welcoming embrace of their family celebration – Pete’s 60thwas like a love letter to the world… generating a joyous feeling of public generosity I hadn’t experienced for years.  It was like any other family get-together say, like a wedding reception – except this party/show was open to the public at their music club.

Pete’s large family have all learned how to care for each other. So, not surprisingly, they chipped in by delivering free party food to the many tables of well-wishers throughout the night – with live music that included Pete’s band.

As Jan explained later, you’ve got to expect some problems in life; but, showing you care begins a ripple effect… spreading out to the margins of our lives. You can see she looks at things differently than your average business person… sharing happiness is her business.

“I’m gonna say hello to my neighbor
Greet him with a smile
Shake the hand of a stranger
Sit and talk for a while
Tell someone I love them
From the bottom of my heart”
Today I’m gonna try and change the worldby Johnny Reid

Happiness: A World View

The latest World Happiness Report shows Canada – #7 out of 155 countries studied – as one of the best to live. By contrast, the USA (#13) was described as becoming “a more miserable and mean-spirited place.” Although average US personal incomes are up, inequality is rising and getting worse. Pain killers and suicides reflect an increasingly deeper lack of hope.

The key to happiness? A sense of community, understanding the  common good, pro-social behaviour, and helping strangers… not unlike Pete’s and Jan’s philosophy of life. Economist John Helliwell (report’s lead author) said, “If the riches make it harder to have frequent and trustworthy relationships between people, is it worth it?” Still, you have to have some money to be happy; but, as Helliwell noted,“… at a certain point extra money doesn’t buy extra happiness.”

 Happy (School) Days!

Yet, there’s now new hope and happiness for American youth. Baltimore’s Robert W. Coleman elementary school has implemented a program that does away with detentions by teaching their students meditation and yoga/breathing techniques.

This after-school program has been so successful that no detentions have been handed out in two years. Talk about happiness!

According to teachers, students are taught to calm down whenever they feel anger rising and sadness growing – which has also helped them focus and do better on tests. The kids are empowered and that makes them feel happy – developing work/life skills that will also benefit them as adults.

It's in our hands

Photo from Pixaby domain

 

Sometimes we have to make a choice; why not choose happiness?

Fred Parry
The Music In Me
April, 2017

 

 

 

 

Mar 312017
 

My wife’s dad, nicked named ‘Dodie’, was born in Edinburgh –practically a street urchin. An old navy vet, he was always the life of the party, loved by everyone and enjoyed a good ‘dram’ – saying, in his 18th century-type voice, “I quite loves’ me whiskey… or anyone’s else’s.”

Here is the beloved one, in hospital bed a-lying / Monitors all disconnected now, the old sailor knows he’s dying.

His rugged constitution gave way to poor health late in life which included angina and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Yet, it was said of him that his no-worry attitude and wry sense of humour could dispel any sadness… lighten up any room.

“What the hell, he’d say, I’ve lived a good life, I’m ready to go  anytime.”

With it, the family understands, it’s what he’s been wanting / Sick and unable to move, these past few weeks been daunting.

One time, he was led off a plane in a wheelchair – due to acute shortness of breath – looking deathly ill and hardly able to speak, he whispered, “Fred, let’s get out of here! These women are making a fuss over nothing.”

On another occasion, after a family function, his wife chastised him for accepting too many drinks. Dodie’s response: “Well woman, it was a wedding not a funeral.”

But, in the end, time eventually caught up to Dodie – spending his last remaining days in hospital ‘comfort care.’

Above a computer screen urgently flashes … no time remaining / Yet he lives on – in slumber-induced sleep – ever weighing his staying.

He hears well the nurse’s instructions, adjusting his body again / But he waits – until the last voice of loved ones, proved that they’ve been.

My wife – as she was in the beginning – remained at his side. And, late one evening, as the end neared, she decided to give him a true Scottish send-off.

Now, the trial seems over, so clearly seen on his face / With peace and contentment, the new order, all worry’s been replaced.

She set up an old CD player loaded with his favourite Scottish songs. She even had the evening nursing staff and another patient singing, “O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road / And I’ll be in Scottland before ye”

A life worth celebrating, his favourite music plays/Drinks all ‘round is called for … seems like old days.

A nurse herself, she’d seen her fair share of morbid death watches, so she was determined to see her father die his way. So, after dipping a mouth-sponge soaked with brandy, she gently rubbed it across his lips.

Well! – Dodie, reacting deep from within an unconscious state, latched on and wouldn’t give it up. As we laughed, she calmly said to him that she couldn’t give him another drop unless he let it go. He did! – his face glowing with satisfaction… making the bitter sweet.

Photo by Anindya Chowdhury

 

 

 

 

 

And later, in the wee hours, when a last breath is drawn Under calm skies and time remaining, he sails into the dawn!


Fred Parry                  The Music In Me
March, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 252017
 

As I unravel my thoughts, here in the coldness of a winter’s eve, I wonder what our retirement years might look like for my wife and I… knowing our marriage is a gift to each other.

“The Frost King has come and with a flick of his thumb, turned the windows to Renaissance art / As we sit round the fire with no need to enquire, about the ways of the soul and the heart” – Renaissance by Valdy

Maybe, retirement means extensive travel like many of our friends who routinely visit various parts of the world. I can still hear my father-in-law telling us, “Travel now while you can, before poor health means you can’t.”

I just know – whatever life’s itinerary – I’d be lost without her.

“Years past us by like a soft whispered sigh, not noticing youth as it flew /
It’s easy to tell that you wear your age well, not trying to prove you’re still you”

And longevity? – although we get used to waking up every day, it’s not a certainty.

What time we have left could be measured in years… or just seconds. A young father – working and raising a family – I could afford the luxury of fooling myself that I had all the time in the world.

Now, with maturity and age, I can’t pretend I didn’t waste some of that valuable time – fearing today, with no faith in tomorrow.

Somehow it seems, some of our dreams got discarded somewhere on the road /
When all that was true, could be found in the blue of your eyes that still sparkle and glow”

Our priority for the two of us is to find more time to deepen our relationship without losing our personal interests.

For example, I often get involved with protracted projects of which she’s generally supportive; but, as a responsible, caring partner, will see things I sometimes don’t bargain for (like subjecting myself to harmful, unnecessary stress) – and she’s usually right!

She’s mindful of my needs; I’m blind to hers. So now with our time seeming ever-so-valuable, I find I’m making up for lost opportunities.

Bob Dylan said, “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.”


… any road… photo from pixabay public domain

We’re starting off modestly by listing all the things we like doing together: bike rides, walks, visiting interesting coffee shops and restaurants with friends, movies, yoga, camping, canoeing… talking and listening to each other means everything’s possible.

“I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with”  –
Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

I feel like the literary figure, Rip Van Winkle – waking up after years of being asleep. Coming to my senses, like never before, I realize, the past is ancient history. And yet the light in her “kaleidoscope” eyes is guiding me home.

The Doobie Brothers ask in Long Train Runnin’, “Without love, where would you be now?”

I believe the correct answer is: nowhere.

However, some say love is blind; but fortunately for me, even a blind man knows – can be downright clairvoyant – when he’s walking in the sun.

Fred Parry
Music In Me
Feb, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 202017
 

A number of us were talking about how it is when people only think  of themselves. The examples given were derivations of a basic truth: everything hidden eventually comes to light.

“The way I see it, he said
You just can’t win it
Everybody’s in it for their own gain”

– Free Man in Paris by Joni Mitchell

Now, don’t get me wrong, we’ve all fallen short of the angels; it’s just that some people never progress beyond thinking only of their own needs. Have you ever had someone, who you haven’t talk to since the last time they wanted a favour, contact you? Their motives quickly become transparent.

Or, the reverse is also true. It’s called, ‘I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.’ There’s always something expected in return –  the keeping of a protracted scorecard – instead of giving from a generous heart.

I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors                                                                                                                                                 
And no one’s future to decide”

What about borrowing money? My dad had a sure way to figure someone’s true worth. When he was asked to loan out money – he’d do it – with a verbal payback date. So, when the agreed time came (and went) with no offer to repay, or ask for a loan extension, etc., my dad never asked for his money back. Why? He figured he got off cheap just knowing the kind of person he was dealing with… not the same as offering to financially help someone, which he often did.

Another life lesson discussed was mutual respect (or lack of it) that people extend to one another. For example, are they the kind who constantly criticize, condemn and complain? Whereas, informed criticism can be constructive, pointing an uninformed finger of blame leaves you with four fingers pointing right back at you.

 “Who on earth d’you think you are
A super star?
Well, right you are!”

– Instant Karma (We All Shine On) by John Lennon

When young, I didn’t have the discipline to stop and listen, so I’d jump to conclusions – something I wouldn’t want done to me. Where’s the acceptance? Where’s the understanding? So, does any situation give us permission to show less humanity? What type of a society would we have if we routinely made others feel less than they are by not having faith in who they can be?

American President, Theodore Roosevelt, had something to say about intolerance, distrust and fear:  dare to see more good than bad in others.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better…

The credit belongs to the man who’s actually in the arena… strives valiantly, who errs… comes up short…

Who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.

Who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Fred Parry
Music In Me
January, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 252016
 

They say that “nice” guys, (kind, reliable) finish last; whereas bad guys (selfish, aggressive) finish first. But many psych-experts will tell you – and here’s the really big news – there’s as many good people who get to the top as there are bad people.

The typical belief states that all it takes is hard work to be successful, but how many of us know people who got ahead by being in the right place at the right time? Studies suggest plain luck plays the main part. 

According to ‘Psychology Today’- reviewing, The Luck Factor, a ten-year, empirical-based book by psychologist Richard Wiseman, “We are more like pinballs bouncing around  a machine than captains at the wheel.” Also, “Serendipity smiles upon people who have a more relaxed approach to life. They’ve clarified their long-term goals, but don’t worry too much about the details.”

“It’s not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game even starts.”Mort Walker, syndicated cartoonist

If it weren’t for “nice” people throughout my life, I would have been forever lost – in so many small and big ways. These people help others in need… before being asked.

“If you get lonely, all you really need is that rainy day love/
Rainy day people all know there’s no sorrow
They can’t rise above” – Rainy Day People by Gordon Lightfoot

Why do they do it? It seems like a sure way to be taken advantage of… like wearing a target on your back. But they don’t see the old “golden rule” as a burden in life, but as a reason for it.

Driving to a car show last summer, my vintage car got a flat tire in front of a rundown hotel. Turns out, my old hydraulic jack couldn’t raise the car high enough to install the spare. One of the hotel patrons came over to me offering to help. And, as if reading my mind, he assured  me that he wasn’t doing it for money. He improvised, with the aid of some carefully placed wooden blocks and between the two of us, it worked.

We had a “man” hug to celebrate our achievement as his wife looked on with indifference. Well, that’s not quite true. She was all for him giving up what she considered to be a dangerous situation, but he wouldn’t see me stuck. I said to her afterwards that she knew she’s hooked up to quite a guy, right? She just smiled and said, “Yeah, I know.”

“People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.”- Author, Kim Culbertson

Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends…                                                                                                                                                                                                           Let the cowboys ride, They’ll be ridin’ against the wind
– Against the Wind by Bob Seger

The thing is… everybody thinks they’re a “nice” person. But that still, quite voice within us knows if we’re acting from our heart or not.  The question is: are we listening?

Music in Me The Music In Me July, 2016

Music In Me FredParry.ca
December, 2016