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Biff Rose
12 Weeks
Consider the Source

Windmills of my Mind

I'll be a grandfather in a few months, which bothers me more than I'd like to admit. Not only do I not feel like I'm nearly old enough, but the only thing I can think of when I think of grandfathers is Grampa Simpson.

Abe Simpson's (Homer's father) main distinguishing characteristic, aside from being old and wrinkled, is a distressingly funny habit of wandering off the track of whatever topic he's started ("We're having turkey? In my day we used to call it Walkin' Bird. Of course, that was back before the Liberty Dollar, and we had to save our wooden nickels, called dimes back then, so we could afford to ride the coaster at Cooney Island. Coasters make me dizzy. Hey, I'm dizzy now! I can't get out of the car. The president is a demmycrat!"). Like someone driving around in an empty parking lot, Grampa can't seem to find an exit.

I've always enjoyed laughing at the elder Simpson, except that it's now a little too close to home. It's not just that I'm soon to be best used as a babysitter when the kids need some quality time to themselves - no, the problem is that I recognize in myself the same distressing inability to stay on subject.

I didn't used to be this way. In my college years I was renown for my prowess in debates (the formal kind - not the usual college sitting around BS sessions). I was nearly always anchor and I could wrap up a summation with a lighting wit and razor sharp arguments that cut to the quick and sent the other team down in flames. Which reminds me of the time we won that match in Laguna…

Oops, there I go again. The essential thing that differentiates the present me from the me of old is that back then I had no life experiences. Of course my mind didn't wander - where was it to go? The biggest events in my short existence were all awaiting ahead, rather than behind me as they are now (and receding far in the distance. There was a time when I was pretty famous for my software designs, making the covers of all the major database magazines, being courted around the country (and world) for seminars and consulting gigs and… yipes, there I go again!).

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. As we get older and our life enriches we have so many memories crammed upstairs that the minute we start thinking we run into them. And, like old friends we haven't seen in many years, we want to stop and greet them, let others meet them, and soon we've completely forgotten why we were in that particular part of the brain in the first place. Like wheels within wheels, I become trapped in the Windmills of my mind, while all around me people are amused, bemused or confused.

It's bad enough in day to day existence, but it's started to infect all of my writing now. Parenthetical thoughts abound, and then parenthesis within parenthesis until even I can't figure out what the heck the paragraph was supposed to be (but I don't think it's just me. I've begun to notice a lot of magazine articles are this way. Not only that, but Time now has so many sidebars I can't finish an article. (Sidebars are another way of doing parenthesis, in a more formal manner. Sidebars, of course, are related to sidetracking (and does anyone remember the sidecars that attached to motorcycles? Do they even make those anymore? That always seemed like a good idea to me. (Which is another aspect of old age - things always seem better. That's because we tend not to remember the bad things, or if they are bad they are really terribly bad. (Then again, it would be pretty dull if you started to reminisce with something like "I'll never forget that average day so many years ago when nothing really important happened. Oh no, I think I've lost track of where I am! Let's see if this makes it better)))))).

Sigh. I just hope my future grandson will understand, as I lead him down to the fishing dock (note to self: must learn how to fish) and begin to tell him about the good old days and wander off into the golden pastures of my youth. Grandpa Kelley isn't senile - he's just spinning his wheels in the parking lot of his mind.









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