Sunday, August 5, 2012

Living with the Past... but not in it!

One of the strongest fears in my life is to find myself being caught up in trying to re-live or re-capture particularly memorable events from my prior life. Most always this attempt to further extend the success or pleasure of a span of time... an event or even to once again  a memorable meal experience at a special restaurant results in disappointment... which in some fashion even takes away from the initial joy of the first experience.

Studying and living in Venice for eight weeks was one such pivotal moment in both my personal and artistic lives. That experience drew together every art history course I had taken previously... every book that I had read about the Renaissance... every visual image and slide that I had been shown of architecture... landscape and master works which related to this subject. It is difficult with any number of words... to convey the impact which that the experience/adventure has had on me... and my work.

When offered the opportunity to return... I was at first overjoyed to think of being able to once again wander those rivas... fondamentas and canals... each time rediscovering new bits and pieces of a past that was beforehand only available to me in books. And then reality set in... a reality that strongly suggested that perhaps I might be supplanting a lesser return on this second go-around... thereby tarnishing "the gold medal" which I had already achieved. Did I really need to improve the already life-changing blessing? No was the answer... and I live happily with that decision... still savouring many of those memorable moments from time to time as they return from my memory reserve.

Today, Deb and I had the wonderful pleasure of accepting a luncheon invitation here at The Boat House Restaurant... an invitation to join seven "strangers"... not because I hadn't met them before... but "strangers" in the sense that I hadn't seen four of them in forty-six years!  It was "way back then"... when we attended high school together and played football... basketball ... and shared more than a few "illegal" beers together. Again... in the past I have been reluctant to become involved in reunion events... preferring to let the planned hooplas remain the possession and joy of the planners. Nothing wrong with that... just not what I'm into for the reasons stated earlier.

But these older men were once special young people on one very special team which even trained during the summer to achieve a dream of winning a championship which we all believed was possible. That dream ... despite our commitment and our passion slipped away from us in overtime play. It was heartbreaking for us all... and for some... they play out that one moment of "failure"... in that one game... even today. Tragic! I still carry the pride and respect for every member of that team... to the man... but my life is more based upon what has transpired since then.

I took with me from that experience a deep lesson about living my own life. I have always been a team player. I have always tried to "win"... AKA ... to do my very best in everything that I undertake. I have learned not to look at "failure" as such... but rather...  as "a learning opportunity." Life  is not  at all about winning. It is about playing... about "getting a glove and getting fully into the game of life." It's about the people we meet and share our journey with... no matter how briefly!

"As Time Goes By" - oil on canvas 36x30 onches

Today... I was thrilled to learn that "Dr Bill"... a totally "wild guy" back then continues to contribute and enjoy serving... even leading the medical profession he chose to join... teaching... mentoring and actively practising... with no eye on ever retiring from the"work" which still fuels his passion and life goals. And then... there was Lynne... back then... "slick with ladies"... but now a successful metallurgist... re-tired ( a new set) back on the road doing what has given him a life time ofpleasure. Lastly... but not the least  by any shakes...  a "bon vivant"... now sixty-eight year old Schwarzenegger-like Rod... who continues to play baseball and has the same hunky physique and looks (except for a shiny head) that made him one of the most popular and loved of all young men in our high school.

How much we enjoyed the banter and teasing... the dredging up of sometimes embarrassing moments and glow of  an friendship which has not been diminished by time or circumstance. Thank you to the ladies who sat through these shenanigans patiently... and tolerantly.We came together for the sake of just re-connecting... to find out how the others have fared. It would appear that being together in an early team environment of trust and mutual respect for common goals has served each of us well.

Life and the Universe offers opportunities and choices... what we do with them remains our responsibility. Only two of this foursome really showed any sign of "scholarship" at this early time in our lives. However... it can be said that the other two... found their way ... later and  each with a path to achieving their own personal measure of Success and Happiness!

I am posting this very personal painting that I made several years ago. It is titled... "As Time Goes By." As titles go... it is highly unoriginal because it owes its birth to a song by the same title from the blockbuster movie and classic Casablanca. It was the song that my Dad closed off each of his weekend "gigs" with his Buddies Orchestra. The painting has much meaning to "Me"... and by the obvious response of these three pals it holds the same value and degree of meaning for them as well.

I intend to present it to our high school next year before the 125TH Anniversary Reunion (I won't be attending)... to honour those members of our team still living... and some now passed... and "the dream" that we continue to live out in our own individual lives... long after that "loss"... in 1962. We are all... "Winners"... in every sense of the word! Each of us is still actively... and fully "playing" in the game of Life!

Love you Guys! Thanks for the memories!

PS Hope that you can excuse this ramble ... back down "Memory Lane." Maybe you have such a memory as well! Hope so!


  1. Not a ramble, Bruce. I loved reading your thoughts and words and find it remarkable that you could all come together as if the years have never intervened.

    I so wish I had the optimistic nature that allowed me to see failures as a learning experience. Instead I fall into the drama of never feeling like I will be successful at anything. Ah well...differences make the world go round.

  2. Good Morning Sherry!... Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to leave your much appreciated words!

    I have learned, through experience... that pessimism is destructive to one's own well-being and pushes people away from trusting and becoming further involved with one.

    Optimism is the correct word... the magic ingredient (which you mentioned)... which enables four young men to meet... and feel kinship... despite the passage of time and circumstance.

    But you are correct in adding as well... differences do make the world go around! Despite your reoccurring feelings of "failure"... I much enjoy our connecting and sharing. I will continue to see you in a positive light... for the things that I see in your character and consistent effort to "play the game."

    Good Painting and Happy Summer!
    Warmest regards,

  3. Hi Bruce, I always admire your optimistic outlook. I'm sure it contributes to your obvious sense of happiness and well-being. It's a lesson to all of us that negative thoughts only bring a negative quality of life.

    Thanks for the wisdom,

  4. Hi there Keith!... Thanks for visiting and for acknowledging my optimism! I think that we greatly share and embrace that facet of character.

    My dear Mom taught me a hymn... way back when which I feel encapsulates what we are talking about:

    "Put your shoulder to the wheel push along,
    Do your duty with a heart full of song.
    Let no one shirk... just do your work,
    Put your shoulder to the wheel."

    Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if all of us felt the same and acted upon those words?

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. Just today got around to reading this post and it very much resonated with me. Attempting to relive past wonderful experiences just doesn't seem to work out so, like you, I tend to avoid even trying to do that. I do, however, love to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances and to see how far we have all come. These days I am remembering and reconsidering my past and how it has brought me to where I am today and marvel at the many seemingly coincidental events that occurred and caused me to turn in one direction instead of another, and how different things might be if I had turned the other way. I am pleased to realize that, although I would like to have changed some things (mainly things that embarrass me or I am not proud of...nothing major, thank goodness!), I actually have no regrets. I, like you, I think, have had to courage to step out of my comfort zone many times and make big changes, and while this was often, (usually!) painful and difficult at the time it always worked out for the best! How fortunate I have been! Hmmm...methinks there is a blog post in this for me:-)

  6. Hi there Karen!... Just caught you comment ... late... but Hey!... Thanks for commenting... and for taking the time to share your own ideas on the subject of this post!

    Me thinks that everyone might profit from the exercise of thinking your way through a "recap" of one's journey! Maybe we didn't screw up as badly as we thought??? HA HA!!

    Good.... Landscaping! HA HA!!!
    Warmest regards,