The time and effort I put into being a father reaped a double harvest when most of my children’s friends became my friends as well. It was a win/win situation for me: once those kids became friends with me, they were less likely to lead my kids astray while gently instilling in me a more youthful mindset. It’s also been nice I’ve aged and those “buddies of my kids’ buddies” relationships have slowly morphed into friendships in their own right.
That’s the situation with a young man named Arrison Kirby; I’ve enjoyed staying in touch with him over the tears and watching him as he builds his career as a professional in popular music and develops his own creative voice and vision.
It’s also been gratifying to play a part in his professional development – specifically a series of CDs based on astrology. I’ve just completed the cover for Lifeblood, analbum based on Taurus or sign of the bull. We’re both happy with what I came up with. I’m always happy when I finish up with a good solid cut-paper sculpture after my hit-or-miss production over the last year or two.
It’s also a “album cover art” which was as much an inspiration as comics were for me to go into into the illustration field in the first place.
In November of 2018 I wrote a post entitled I Wish I’d Written That containing a list of written passages that (obviously) I wish I’d come up with first. While making a long (and very slow) recovery from COVID-19 I’ve had plenty of opportunities to reflect on that post and I’ve come up with one more item I’d like to add.
It’s from an essay written by Tom Bodett – always a favorite for the way it captures the quirky blend of cultures and technology (dogsled vs. limousine/urban vs. rural) so typical of Alaskan life. This particular essay addressed the change in lifestyles that came about with his success as a writer and leaving construction as a means for earning a living for his family.
“…I miss the way my hands would ache after swinging a hammer all day.”
Chronic pain aside I live a life a lot of men aspire to, with most of my days spent sitting in a recliner while reading or watching TV. Unfortunately, I’m one of those odd people who actually likes physical labor and at this point in life the closest I can get to doing any kind of work is picking up a book or tapping something out on the computer. It makes my life a sort of upholstered purgatory that was difficult enough when I was dealing with just the pain and stiffness of ankylosing spondylitis and age, but even after recovering from Covid I am weaker than the proverbial kitten. I long ago tired of staring at the four walls of my bedroom so it’s all too easy to get lost in memories of my life as a younger man and thinking of all I left behind.
In addition to the aching hands that Mr. Bodett wrote about, I miss:
The pungent smell of a sun-warmed two-by-four I’ve just cut on my table saw
The reverse spasm in my shoulder that came with setting down a bag of horse-feed
The crunch of my boots while I’m walking down a gravel road
I readily admit that I am richly blessed with a strong emotional support system starting with my Beautiful Saxon Princess and do what I can on my own to cope with my situation in the here-and-now by writing, making art, lifting barbels and getting in as many steps walking as the discomfort will allow me.
… but the prognosis for A/S is not a cheery one, and sometimes living in the past is the only way to catch a break.