Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Legacy

Since the baby has come into our little world, the oddest things suddenly mean the world to me.

The kid's smile can break your heart. Watching him explore the world is simply the greatest thing I could ever imagine. Seeing him learn how to grab things, move around on his own, enjoy food, etc. It's all so brand-new to him, and all so fascinating. Little things like a blanket are hours of fun to him. At this point, he has no idea that anything bad is out there in the world. I love that, even though I hate the fact that one day he'll learn what a horrible world this can be. I'd give anything to shield him from the pain that's out there, even though I know that would almost be as bad as neglecting him.

Leaving something for him has become important for me. I want so badly to have left him something that he can point to (hopefully with pride) and say, "that's my daddy's, and he gave it to me."

I have no idea why this is so important to me, but it is. I guess I'm lucky that I have some things that I have used and enjoyed, and I hope that he will as well. I hope that some part of me will live on in his memories after I've gone.

I have my books, of course. If they weather the years, I hope that he gets some enjoyment from them.

I have my guitars. One of which was given to me by my parents, 20 years ago now. I hope that even if he doesn't play it, he can at least look at it and think fondly of me. Maybe he can pass them to his son, one day, if he doesn't get any use from them.

I have my guns, as well as a few in the safe that were given to me by my father. They mean a lot to me, just because of where they came from. A lot of them won't ever be shot. They serve no use at the moment, but I'd never get rid of them. I hope that my son will be able to appreciate them, and think about me every time that he handles one. He'll have some link to his family's past, and I think that's an important thing.

It all pales in importance in comparison to what I feel I need to teach him. That will be the real legacy, even beyond his genetic inheritance. I want him to be a man of God, of compassion, of strength, of character, and honor. I want to be able to carry him past the mistakes I've made. I can only hope and pray that he's a better man than I am, and all I can do is try and sew those seeds within him.

The End....

....of Harry Potter, that is.

I just finished HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. All I can say is: wow.

I'll give you no spoilers. I hate people who give away book or movie endings, so I'm not going to be that guy.

I picked up this series several years ago, and I was simply amazed. Ms. Rowling created one of the greatest characters in literary history. Believe the hype; she wouldn't have gotten filthy rich unless she created something worthwhile.

The interesting thing about this series was how it got progressively better. Each book was better than the last. This character was one that the reader felt every inch of pain he felt. We felt his triumphs, and his many sorrows. We saw his petty fits of jealousy, and recognized our own in there. We saw him be a dumb kid, and realized that he was just like we were. This guy was as human as a fantasy wizard could possibly be.

The series was a hero's quest. All quests have to end eventually. All the mysteries had to be solved, all the loose ends had to tie up.

The problem again is how to resolve such a grand story arc. How does one bring something like that to a close without disappointing a legion of fans?

Well, she did it. Have no fear. The talent Ms. Rowling has is almost beyond belief. I almost get angry reading her stuff sometimes, because it's almost too good. NOBODY deserves to be able to write that well, to be able to drag somebody into a fictional work the way she did.

The series ended with a bang. And it ended exactly as it needed to. Simply amazing. Loyalty, love, sadness, life, death, pain, hope, and eternity; it's all there.

You can certainly do yourself a favor if you haven't read these books. They're all out there now. You don't have to wait years between the sequels like the rest of us shmucks. Ignore the movies and just read the books. See the movies much later, after you've had your own vision of what Harry Potter's world is like.

I really hate to see it all end. I'll never be graced with another Harry Potter adventure, and the world is a poorer place because of it. It's a bittersweet feeling I have at the moment.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Police

Here's a quick concert review for you. Last week, I was fortunate enough to see one of my musical inspirations in concert. Yes, I saw the Police.

I'm somewhat of an anachronism. My favorite bands pretty much broke up before 1986. Given the fact that two of my favorite bands pretty much hated each other, I'd pretty much written off ever seeing the Eagles or the Police. Age and the almighty dollar mellowed out the Eagles enough they reformed, and I have been lucky enough to see them a few times since 1994's reunion: HELL FREEZES OVER.

I've written before about "Every Breath You Take" being the entire reason for me picking up a guitar. That's one of the greatest guitar licks of all time. "Message in a Bottle" is yet another inspirational lick of pure genius. Alas, I never imagined I'd get the chance to see the band that laid those tracks down.

Well, I guess I can die happy now. Last Wednesday's show was worth every bit of the three hour drive to see them, and the three hour drive back starting at 4:15a.m. to make it to docket call in court the next morning. Painful to be sure. I'm not as able to do that sort of thing as I was in my sleep-deprived youth. Nonetheless: wow. What a show.

Sting still has amazing pipes. He can still hit the screaming high notes, combined with one of the smoothest voices in his natural range that I've ever heard. What really gets me is the guy's 54 years old at this point, and he could easily pass as 20 years younger. He's still athletic as all get out. And he sang his guts out for two solid hours, with almost no break.

Andy Summers is darn near pushing 70. Yet his guitar work has done nothing but improved over the years. I've always felt he was a bit underrated as a guitarist, and that Sting maybe never quite let him play as he is capable of playing. He did some amazing stuff with the Police, but I always had the feeling there was even better stuff he had under his hat. He was one of the first players I ever heard who really used guitar effects in new and different ways.

Stewart Copeland is one of the greatest rock drummers ever. I'd be hard pressed to decide whether he or Neil Peart is the greatest, and I think convincing arguments can be made for both. Stewart may actually get the nod, simply because there's not many drummers out there who can actually claim to have composed an opera. That's worth something.

As a unit, I think they were better than they had any right to be. Almost 30 years of separation did nothing but mature them. They played their songs in new and different arrangements that were a joy to listen to. They were tight, no doubt about it. There were no backup singers, and no synthesizers. Just three guys playing their butts off. Andy covered all the stuff they used to play on keyboards on guitar, and it was brilliant.

The press has had a field day wondering how long they could hold it together. If what we saw on stage that night was genuine, they are going to be at it quite awhile longer. They looked like they were having a blast up there, and that's not easy to fake. I looked back at the Synchronicity video, and they really looked like they were struggling in comparison.

The show was only slightly marred by getting mauled by a drunk chick who sloshed onto our row. There's one in every crowd, I guess. Somebody had fun with her that night, if she managed to stay conscious. Fortunately, she sloshed off somewhere else relatively quickly. I still don't get how people find that sort of thing enjoyable.

I never thought I'd get to see the Police, and I'm pretty blessed to have the opportunity. I've seen some really good concerts in my time, being pretty much a live music junkie. This show topped them all. If you have the chance, I'd say this show is worth your while.

Laying It All On the Line

So what do you have that you would willingly die for?

I don't think I ever grasped how significant this postulation is. Quite simply: what is it that you would sacrifice it all for?

I think I understand this more now since the birth of my son. When I see him, so innocent and perfect, I know that I would die to protect him. I'd willingly sacrifice my entire existence for him. I'd jump in front of a bus, attack a grizzly bear, whatever. No questions, no hesitation, no remorse. Done.

If I think about harm coming to him, I see red. My heart pounds, and I can hardly stand it. My emotions get the best of me, and it brings a tear to my eye if I think about him suffering any sort of pain.

And it suddenly occurred to me: I would do anything in the world to keep him safe. I would gladly trade places to keep him from suffering any pain. If it was his life or mine, I'd give mine in an instant. It's not something that would require a moment's thought. It's a done deal.

Now I think about soldiers out there, willingly laying down their lives for their country, and our freedom and security. The cynical part of me wonders whether they know what they were getting in to. They willingly sign on for a job that will; in all likelihood, result in their death. Did they really grasp the concept of what it is they are risking, the cynical part of my brain asks.

I think they do. The perception of a hard, cruel killer, who blasts away with no remorse is perhaps the most unfair characterization of the military that the liberal media has ever painted. Sure, they have to kill. But they are just as much targets as shooters. That makes them a willing sacrifice for something they believe in. Something they feel called to do. Indeed, I think the essence of a solider is love.

Love is what calls them to duty, to risk everything for what it is they believe in. If my experience is any indication, there is nothing else in the world that would drive a man to lay down his life. In the end, it's all about love.

Now I picture Christ. What in the world could motivate a person to have the very flesh flayed from his back, to have a crown of thorns stuck into his head, to have nails driven through his bones, pinning him to a cross? We see in the Bible that he knew it was coming. He knew what waited for him. With all the power of Creation at his fingertips, he could have stopped it. He didn't have to go through with it. He could have walked away, and I don't think history could have judged him harshly for it. Our human experience could not fathom willingly taking on that sort of physical agony.

But there was a debt that had to be paid. The sin of humankind had to be washed away. The scales had to be balanced. Humanity couldn't carry that cross. So God took it upon himself. He made a part of himself to come to Earth, and pay that price. Why?

Love. He so loved us that he'd lay it all on the line for us. Like a soldier dying for what he believed and loved in. Like a parent who would gladly die, gladly trade places with a suffering child than to see them in torment.

I understand now. I never did before.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for another."

Dearth Of Posts

Not intentional, but I just don't have much time anymore. A baby will do that to you, I guess. I'll post when I can, but it'll be sporadic at best. Such is life. I need to get back into the habit, simply to keep my writing chops honed, though.