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
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.