“Learning How to See”

“Learning How to See” … words and music by Judson Hair 2013

When he finally settled down back in his old hometown
With the weight of all the past inside his head
He woke up that first day with his spirit in decay
Over something he recalled that she had said

She said comin’ back home won’t be easy for you boy
Once you think you’ve left it all behind
Learnin’ how to see will be harder than it seems
Once you have discovered you’ve been blind

When he left her standin’ there he could see it all so clear
A year away would do ‘em both some good
She couldn’t understand when he let go of her hand
And probably she never really would

If you go and leave, are you ever comin’ back?
Will I ever see you anymore?
He slowly walked away and she saw him disappear
Then she turned and very gently closed the door

Time is a healer or so somebody said
Time makes the heart grow fonder yet
Time spent running from the things that matter most of all
Is something you’re not likely to forget

Filled with deep remorse when the day had run its course
He traced his footsteps from a year before
He said a silent prayer as he lingered on the stair
Then reached to gently tap upon her door

He thought, comin’ back home ain’t been easy has it boy?
Once you thought you’d left it all behind
Learnin’ how to see can be harder than it seems
Once you have discovered you’ve been blind

Frozen into place as she stared into the face
Of the one who walked away a year ago
The gift that she’d been blessed she held tightly to her chest
Image of the man she still loved so

She said, welcome back home we’ve been waitin’ for you boy
We prayed you wouldn’t leave us both behind
Open up your eyes, it ain’t so hard to do
Now that you’ve admitted you’ve been blind

Time is a healer or so somebody said
Time makes the heart grow fonder yet.
Comin’ back home to all the things that matter most of all
Is something we’re not likely to regret

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“‘Because of You”

“Because of You” …. words and music by Judson Hair 2014

For all the time I’ve spent right here in this place
All the things that I’d do, all the dreams that I’d chase
The promise of tomorrow, the problems of today
Surround me like so many jars of clay

Winter clouds hung heavy I the sky
Shadows cast a pall before my eye

So much beauty left unseen, so much left to do
I’m finally getting started ’cause of you

Starting now, I’ll start again to form the remedy
To be the man I always meant to be

For all the time I spent looking back at the past
All the things that I missed for things that really don’t last
For worrying about tomorrow, instead of living for today
Just makes me want to hit my knees and pray

The melting snow came rushing down the hill
The hardened ice broke loose to free my will

So much good work left undone, so much left to do.
I’m finally getting started ’cause of you

I’m finally getting started ’cause of you.

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FaceBook Quandry … What Do You Do When A Friend Dies?

I have a quandary …

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know.

I like FaceBook, I really do …

In spite of the many annoying “improvements” that have been added to FaceBook over the past couple of years, the basic qualities are still there.

Mainly, I like the way it has allowed me to re-connect with old friends and helped me to make new ones. Facebook allows me to stay in contact with people I like. People I don’t see every day … people I actually never see at all.

While I steadfastly refuse take part in any of the multitude of clever schemes that the creators offer to entice us to give up our personal information, I log into FaceBook almost every single day, just to see what others are doing and to let them know what I’m up to.

For me, a visit to Facebook is almost always uplifting and enjoyable.

But, occasionally it’s a sad experience. Sometimes I log in to find that someone is ill, has suffered a set-back, or that someone near to them has died.

Once in a while, it’s the FaceBook friend themselves who has passed away … and this is my quandary.

When a FaceBook friend dies, they’re gone. Obviously you can no longer maintain the normal social connection that FaceBook was designed to create.

But, for whatever reason, the Facebook pages of friends who have died are rarely taken down.

There doesn’t seem to be any particular protocol. And maybe there shouldn’t be one. Someone from the family generally posts the sad news. Others pay their last respects and give testimony to how much they will miss their friend. and that’s it.

From that point, the FaceBook page becomes frozen in time, a constant reminder that a person we knew and considered a friend is no longer with us.

Still, an icon with their smiling face appears on our friends list.

Still, we are notified when they have a birthday pending.

Still, we are asked to suggest other friends for them.

In short, FaceBook becomes a sort of cyber purgatory for our departed friends. And it’s all a bit weird and disconcerting.

But, what are the options? Because they are still my friend, I do not care to “Unfriend” someone who has died.

It leaves me a bit bewildered.

Like I say, maybe it’s just me. I don’t know.

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Reflections Upon a Structured Life …

When I let my friends and colleagues know that I was ready to hang it up and retire, one of the first things I was told was that I would miss the “structure” … they were convinced I wouldn’t know what to do with myself or my time.

Well, I am happy to report that after 3 months, I’ve found this prediction to be completely false!

In fact, just the opposite has prove to be true.  I absolutely love getting up each day knowing that for the most part, I can do exactly what I want to do, and I can do it whenever I choose.

It’s been liberating. It’s been inspiring. It’s been glorious!

I have absolutely no structure whatsoever and I am loving it!

Perhaps this directionless existence will wear thin at some point down the road. I don’t know.  But’ so far so good.

I love the saying, “Get a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

What a wonderful concept and absolutely correct I every way!  If only it were that easy.

I have known many people who felt lost when their careers came to an end.  They had been so intimately tied to their “work” that they were not happy in its absence.  They felt they had lost their identity and felt rather meaningless.

For me, my career was never my life … in fact, it was the biggest obstacle to me being able to live my life.  But, don’t misunderstand me on this.  My career provided a comfortable life for me and my family.  So comfortable in fact, that it kept me prisoner for well over 30 years doing a meaningless job that put bread on the table.  Still, I don’t resent my career and I have few real regrets because honestly, I don’t have any reason to believe that my life would have been nearly as fulfilled if I’d tried to make a living following my passion as a young man rather than seeking something that had immediate payback and long-term employment  potential. 

Frankly, I’m comfortably retired now at a relatively early age with the ability to follow my passion, simply because I stuck with a career that forced me to plan for later life and provided me with a means.

So, here I am … doing the things I always wanted to do in life, but doing them without the pressure of having to make a living from it.

If I’d had the courage, I could have been a starving artist.  It would have been easy and I most probably would have starved indeed. Instead, I married the person who has become my best friend and the love of my life.  We have three wonderful children and we are financially safe and secure at a time when so many are not.

For so many reasons, I am thankful that my life followed the structure that it did. Structure is a good thing when it’s necessary … but, now structure has no place in my life, and life is GOOD!!

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Becoming a Good Songwriter …

Once I get started , songwriting comes pretty easy to me and I’ve found that composing lyrics is a natural intuitive process that draws heavily on my poetic ability.

Over the years I’ve written a lot of poetry and I’ve found that my poetry is many times, just a song waiting to be put to a melody.

But, I have a couple of problems that have become fairly significant roadblocks.

First of all … my strong suite is in writing lyrics.  I’m much less adept at coming up with compelling melodies.  I’ve got tons of words, just waiting for the right tune. I probably should work with someone else, but I’ve never been much of a collaborator, feeling that a song is a work of art and drawing from the inspiration of another artist to finish the work has never particularly appealed to me.

Secondly, for whatever reason, I currently seem incapable of writing any songs that are generally up-beat and positive.  Even the songs I write that are reasonably optimistic end up being bittersweet and a bit cynical.  Right now, I just cannot seem to write fluffy, feel good songs.

For me, writing a song requires that I draw heavily from how I am feeling at the time.  This is okay.  I’m not trying to produce songs-by-the-number nor to write specifically to please others.  And really, if my feelings were not legitimate, “The Blues” would not have become such a popular musical genre.   But, still … I’d like to work from a broader palette.  While composing songs that make people think, occasionally I’d also like to write songs that make people want to tap their feet, sing along, and even laugh!  So far, I’ve come up dry … so I’ve taken what is for me a big step.

I’ve joined a local songwriter’s association in hopes of expanding my horizons gaining some insights into the craft of songwriting.  If nothing else, this should be interesting.  I hope my skin is thick enough to accept criticism. I believe I’ll be fine as long as long as it’s constructive criticism.

I hope that the members of the group know the difference between being honest and being brutally honest.  I think I’m ready for the honesty … but the brutality, I could probably do without.

If things get too bad, I suppose I can always write a song about it …

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Heading out to “Putter” …

My wife and I like to “putter” around on weekends and holidays … some call it window shopping, others call it simply messing around. For us, it’s always been “puttering.

Today is Memorial Day so we’re heading out to “Putter” …

We’ve been together a long time and I can already pretty well predict the course of our day … here is a brief synopsis of a day spent “puttering”.

“What time you want to leave?”

“I dunno … ten or so?”

“Okay just let me know when you’re ready.”

“Where do you want to go?”

“I dunno, where do you want to go?”

“I asked you first … “

“How about TJ Maxx and Marshall’s?”

“Okay … can we run by Barnes & Noble?”

“Sure … what about lunch? You gonna be hungry?

“Not too hungry now, but maybe later.”

“Okay, where you want to eat?”

“I dunno … where you thinking?’

“I asked you first … “

“Okay, how about Macaroni Grill?”

“Aren’t you tired of Italian?”

“Yeah, a little … what else you got in mind?

“I dunno … let me think about it.”

“Okay … while you think, I’m going to try some of these clothes on.  They’re on sale.”

“Well, I guess I’ll find a seat at the front of the store.  Come find me when you’re done.”

“You bought all that?!? I thought we were just “puttering” today.

“It was on a big sale.  I saved a ton of money.”

“So, where you want to eat?”

“I dunno … maybe we should just go home and order Chinese.”

“Okay … if that’s what you want, that’s fine with me.”

“What you want to order?”

“I dunno … let me think about it a while.”

“Okay.  While you’re thinking, I’ll ………………..” .    (well, you get the picture)

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Don’t Borrow Trouble …

Like I do so frequently, I’m busy borrowing trouble again.

Knowing full well that it’s counter productive and self-defeating, I continue to worry excessively about what might happen. Worst case scenarios about things I’m helpless to change one way or the other constantly plague my thoughts. Every effort I make to avoid this destructive habit falls short.

My wife tells me not to borrow trouble. She tells me that worrying about things over which you have no control is fruitless.

She’s right of course.

To be mindful of what’s happening now and to live in the moment is the goal.

I’m working on it.

Guess I just need to work a little harder …

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The Aspiring Singer/Songwriter Is At It Again …

This is my latest original song … it’s about leaving behind your hassles and burdens and taking the highway to happiness … it’s an optimistic song about making positive changes in your life, while acknowledging that no situation is ever going to be perfect  … reflecting the way I feel right now!  I hope you like it … :-)

“A New Release” … by Judson Hair (copyright 2013)

The highway that he travels every morning

before the sun has shed a single ray

From Apex into Raleigh right down One & 64

gets longer and longer every day

 Racing to the job

With that frenzied highway mob

makes each mile an adventure they all share

 With coffee in his veins

one pill to cut the pain

another pill to help him not to care

 The work that he has waiting when he gets there

created his existence for today

it brings him in each morning and sends him home at night

but mostly makes him want to get away

 He knows that one day soon

come April, May, or June

the hassles and the burdens will all cease

He’ll start another life

a different kind of strife

something that provides  a new release

 The highway that he travels every morning

before the sun has shed a single ray

From Apex into Raleigh right down One & 64

gets longer and longer every day

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I Want to Love Snow Again!!

As a child growing up in the Carolinas, I loved the snow!  Or at least I loved the prospect of snow.  It never really snowed all that much and when it did, it was the occasion for great celebration.

Winter in the South can be disconcerting. One day it may be 70 degrees and the next it might plummet into the teens. You really never know what to expect. Most of the time, things settle in at around 40 degrees or so … not really “Winter” by the standards of a great many people, but it’s what we get here.

Growing up, I dreamed of a huge snowfall.  Snow so deep that it drifted up over the window sills, completely blanketing the rooftops and thickly frosting the trees.  Of course it never happened the way I dreamed it.  We actually got a good snow every couple of years … but 6-8 inches or so was a big one!

In my innocence, I thought it was just a matter of time before that really, really huge one came along, not fully understanding the long odds against conditions ever coming together to produce the type of snowfall that I saw in my dreams … The type of snow that people from other parts of the country took for granted … and many who lived there actually seemed to dread.

That’s what is attractive about the South to a great many people who live elsewhere  … the opportunity to enjoy a temperate climate instead of the bitter cold. People move here from places to the North in order to escape Winter.  I was always the opposite.  I wanted to live in a place where it snowed … and snowed a LOT!

Sadly, as I got older my fascination with snow slowly subsided.  As an adult, I found that even a slight coating of snow and ice made driving dangerous and getting to work difficult.  Unlike school in my childhood days, work didn’t close down at the slightest hint of frozen precipitation and I had to be there regardless of any desire I might have to stay home.

For most of my life since childhood, circumstances have caused me to dread snow, just like those Yankees who migrate down here for job opportunities or retirement.  Now, I’ve become like them.  I watch the weather forecast closely when snow is predicted, knowing the complications it will cause not only for me getting to work, but for the productive and efficient operation of the work that I do when I get there.

This all stinks!!

I want to love snow again … I want to relish the thought of being socked in for a day or two while the world slows to a standstill.  I want to sit by the fire with a cup of coffee and gaze out the window as the flakes fall for hours and the accumulation grows.  I want to listen to the glorious muffled silence that envelops the neighborhood, enabling me to hear the joyous shouts of kids having a snowball fight or speeding down the hill on a sled blocks away.

I don’t necessarily want to BE that young again … I just want to FEEL that way.

Is that too much to ask?

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Making Memories

Did you ever try to create a memory?

It’s tough to do …

When I was a teen and my siblings were younger, our family took an extended camping trip across the country for 8 weeks. We didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the defining period of our lives … it would be a topic of fond remembrance and nostalgic conversation from then on.

We’d created a memory … without knowing we were doing it and without really trying.

Now, Betty and I want to do something similar.

We’re busy trying to pull together a big family trip for ourselves and our three grown children.

We just want to take a 7-day cruise together … not 8 weeks, but just 7-days in the Caribbean … with nothing to do but relax and enjoy the scenery, the weather, and each other’s companionship.

Sounds wonderful, right?  But, it just hasn’t been as simple as we’d hoped.

The plan was to pick a date that suited everyone, book the cruise, fly down and get on the boat.

Well, so far, finding a date that works for everybody has been a struggle.  For various reasons, none of the kids can find a time, at the same time.

Of course the periods when everyone has a substantial amount of time off … like Thanksgiving or Christmas/New Years is the time when flights and cruises are the most expensive and travel is the most hectic.

I have visions of the harrowing situations in the “Home Alone” movies when I think about trying to plan something over a major holiday, never mind the added expense.

We do want to create a memory, but we want it to be a happy one, not one filled with frustration and anxiety.

Of course, the obvious has slowly begun to dawn on us.  Memories aren’t created, they just happen.  You cannot make them happen and trying too hard inevitably leads to disappointment.

We’re not going to give up on doing something significant together as a family … maybe it will still be the cruise … maybe something else.

But, if it happens, it will have come about in its own time and at its own pace.  And when it happens, it will be something we will all remember fondly from that point onward.

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