Saturday, December 15, 2012

No. 537 – Time Flies

Performer: Porcupine Tree
Songwriter: Steven Wilson
Original Release: The Incident
Year: 2009
Definitive Version: None

I owe it to myself to go back and listen to The Incident all the way through in one shot. It’s meant to be considered a single 55-minute piece, but because the CD breaks up the piece into individual tracks and the tracks break up naturally—at least they seemed to on first listen—I’m OK with breaking up the segments into individual songs for this here list. Perhaps if I were to revisit this list years later (and I won’t), I might be bemused by this foolish decision.

Steven Wilson is right. You realize after a while that time flies. I was listening to upcoming songs on the list, trying to make sure I have them in the right order and then thinking about what stories I’ll tell for each one, so I don’t duplicate anything. (I’ve started to jot down thoughts on upcoming songs, specifically so I don’t have any duplication—or at least as much as I might otherwise.)

Anyway, I was thinking about songs from 2002 and 2003, and it hit me that those songs and events are now a decade old. Really? Where did that time go? When I tell stories about Beth or Wabash or high school, those memories do feel as though they were a lifetime ago. And they were when you think about it.

Beth’s birthday is coming up in another week. She’ll be 46, which means we began to date … are you ready for this … 30 years ago. I also started at Wabash 30 years ago. Holy schlamoley!!

Flint, likewise, seems like a long time ago, and it was. Now we’re talking two decades here. Owning a house? Again, Debbie and I bought that house 15 years ago, which, of course, means that Debbie almost has it all paid off now, and it feels like it’s been that long

But we’re coming up the 10th anniversary of me quitting The Dispatch and moving to Cleveland, which marked a seismic life change. That can’t be. It feels like just a couple years ago, and yet … it has been that long ago.

I think what happens when you get older and your brain begins to deteriorate due to age, it becomes more difficult to hold on to recent memories. In other words, you retain crystal clear memories of times long ago that were experienced when you were younger and your mind stronger. And you lose track of those of a more recent vintage.

I’ve seen it happen with my Dad. For example, a few years ago, we were talking about Neil Young and CSNY, and he said he’d seen Neil do a great show in 1977 at Ohio University. (He took Laura, not me, but got me a T-shirt.) And he said he’d love to see him with CSN. He had completely forgotten that he had seen CSNY together only years before, in 2000. I know, because I saw him there.

I see that happening to me a little bit. I have file-drawer memories, including being able to identify the page number, of projects at my magazine from 2006 and 2007, yet I probably couldn’t tell you if pressed much of anything beyond the basics of what we ran, in, say, May-June 2011. I have to go to the magazine itself for that.

Maybe this is perfectly natural as you age, but it scares the crap out of me. I started doing this thing a few years ago where I’m talking about something or I’m about to make my point, and in mid-sentence I stumble over a key word. I can see the concept clearly in my mind, but I’ve completely forgotten the word.

I’ve never had a stuttering problem, and it’s not really the same thing. It’s like my mind suddenly drops a stack of papers on the ground as it’s running to a meeting, and I have to pick them up before I can proceed.

It drives Laurie nuts, which makes me more self-conscious—and more concerned. I have promised myself—and my loved ones—that I will never be a burden if I ever were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or, really, any disease where my mind goes away, leaving behind just my body. When my mind is gone, so am I, and when I get an indication that that progression is inevitable and irreversible, I’m going to check out ahead of time.

I’m not there yet, thank goodness, but when I see that I am following in my father’s footsteps in terms of aging, I don’t want my memories to go away completely. Time flies. There will come a time when I won’t be able to remember the things I can now, but if there’s a record of them somewhere—here—than I don’t have to remember them any more. I just have to find the right song.

And that, more than anything else, is why I decided, about the time that I bought The Incident, to start this blog. Steve Dahl’s wife, Janet, was asked on one of his shows the other day why she writes her blog: Was it meant to be read or meant to be written?

It’s a good question. This here blog is meant to be written, but I appreciate those who are reading all the same.

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