The older I get; it seems the more frequently little memory burbs occur. It’s as if when things get too serious, all of a sudden I remember an incident or a song from 50 years back – I guess you need to be old to have 50+ years of grownup memories. I wouldn’t want to trust my teenage years, not even for memories.
Recently I had a song go round my brain: “What are you going to do about tomorrow when you don’t know what to do about today.” It was the go-to song of Uncle Vinty, a Honky-tonk piano player, comedian, entertainer, etc. who occasionally played Sundays at the local university in Milwaukee a couple of blocks from where I lived. My kids were about 4 & 6 at that time. We’d walk over, they’d get popcorn and sodas and I’d get a couple of beers. Everyone was happy.
Uncle Vinty would bounce out striking the chords of his song, “What are you going to do about tomorrow, when you don’t know what you’re going to do about today.” I thought it was profound enough then to file it away for reflection at some point in the future but back then I had a good laugh. Maybe this is the time for some reflection. So…get your favorite treat and drink and listen up.
Vinty didn’t mention yesterday, leaving that for the Beatles, tomorrow and today were enough and they still are. I do get my undies twisted whenever I worry about tomorrow and tomorrow – I think Shakespeare tried his hand on that one – when today is chock-full of its own problems. The trouble here is I usually worry about all the TODOs for today so much so that they make each next hour feel like another tomorrow. I have to work hard on living just now, being present without being anchored by the yesterdays in the past by “if only” “buts” “should haves” etc., etc. If I forget, my GO TO is remembering to breathe and to become aware of what’s going on in my body – rib cage rising and falling, the sound of my breath entering and leaving my nose, tightness in my belly or legs. No one ever said “today” would be easy.
But this moment is the only moment I have, and when the next moment becomes this moment, that too I’ll try to use. Heck, it’s mine to use! And when I can, I’ll try to use it in a way the self-affirming – positive. You know, “I’m good.” Really, “I’m good and you’re good too.” Sure, this life can be a struggle, but don’t kid yourself, it’s a struggle for everyone. And if we accept that, we can all struggle together, each lifting a different part of the load since we’re all different anyhow.
So, what am I going to do about today? I’ve been thinking about that a lot ever since I heard the song rerun in my head. We are all busy and there’s very little time free to ask that tough question “What am I going to do…” never mind doing it. So, I’m thinking of one thing that I can do – a random act of kindness and using that to mark a point in the Time of Today when I do it to anchor myself to the NOW. These acts needn’t be big things, something like a kind face or smile when you meet a stranger on the street, or picking up a piece of litter to dispose of properly certainly counts.
I’m not quite done…bear with me. I asked my kids if they remembered Uncle Vinty from the good old days – Nope! But they were young. On the other hand, I’m old so maybe I dreamed him up – Nope! I googled Uncle Vinty and found a short YouTube of one of his gigs with this song at the end. Seek and may you find.
Here’s what I’m thinking. We can validate ourselves and any given day with a single act of random kindness. But what if we all pooled our resources over the next few weeks? Make a note of what you did; send it on Havok with your initials, name, or ANON. I’ll do the same. And then, apologies for committing the editor in advance, the editor can pass them on to me and I’ll try to compile them somehow in another short essay. Since an act of kindness puts a star in the sky it would be nice if we all together can light up the heavens.
Best for a pleasant summer and thanks to Uncle Vinty.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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