This is Day 335 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are well today.
Today also is Ernie‘s 17th birthday — according to the date on the factory build sheet, the bus in our driveway rolled off the line in Wakarusa, Indiana on February 21, 2004. And it was three months ago today that we bright him home to Second Chance Ranch.
If Ubi Libertas was a breaking-news blog, in yesterday’s post I suppose I would’ve talked about what a helluva good time Deb and I had at Squeek’s Bar & Grill on Friday night. But it isn’t, so I’ll play a little catch-up today.
On our way across town to the bar, we wondered aloud how long it had been since we’d enjoyed live music at Squeek’s. Best we could figure it was last February, over a year ago, when the incomparable Ray Scott came to town. Since then we’ve been catching our Country by way of live-streaming, which is both welcome and insufficient.
The night’s performer was one Rye (Damn) Davis, who hails from Pig, Kentucky — “R-Y-E from P-I-G,” as he introduced himself. He’s no stranger to Squeek’s, so on Friday he was among friends as well as fans.
Rye is genuine Country, both blood and soul. He’s a remarkable talent, bringing a catalog of sharp original songs and an approach to classic covers showing a deep respect for the game. With smooth and expressive vocals, mastery of his Gibson and a confident stage presence, the young man fills a room.
On Friday, that room was packed — with few exceptions, every member of the Squeek’s Family was present and accounted for. It was the first time we’d all gathered, really, since the madness began last March. And like an American Country version of Brigadoon, we took up right where we left off.
The warmth of friendship, the joy of a long-overdue celebration and a perfect soundtrack from Rye (Damn) Davis came together to create an evening we’ll never forget.
Reclaiming the way it used to be, the way it should be, was a good feeling. Eleven months of determination and an indomitable spirit made it possible. There’s something to be said for keeping traditions alive.
The past, when we keep it in the proper perspective, has a lot going for it. Its memories cheer us and its lessons — provided we take them — make us wiser.
I really can’t complain about my personal past. I have a sixty-year reservoir of good memories. The lessons I’ve learned along the way have been a master class in living my very best American Life.
Most days I still feel like an apprentice, of course. That keeps me honest as well as humble.
The trick, I think, has been to avoid treating the past either as healing salve or pure entertainment. And it’s no place to live or set up shop. I’ve learned that an emotional reliance on what’s come before, good or bad, can be a paralyzing agent.
The past has shaped me. The future eludes me. Only the present moment defines me.
In the here and now, the proper role for my past is as a deep mine of experience (the lessons) and experiences (the memories). What I bring out of that mine is raw material for my words, actions and achievements in the present.
Let’s say I have fond memories of the Christmases of my childhood, or a place I vacationed 30 years ago, or a tradition that’s become unfashionable, or a dear friend who’s gone from this Earth. None of those experiences can be lived again, not in the same way — but they can be brought forward, honored and reclaimed in this moment.
When the lot of us gathered in that cozy honky-tonk Friday night, we were there not to re-live old memories but to make new ones. We reclaimed for ourselves the joy of live music in the present moment.
This is it, my friends. This is the moment.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.