“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day.
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
(Insert soul-souring ephemeral guitar solo at 4:28)
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.
Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.”
Summer is dying. The leaves of the trees are just now changing and the sweat soaked claws of summer are blissfully slipping earlier than usual with fewer and fewer gasps of hot days. There is nothing to like about summer in Japan. For a little while the only saving grace of summer was the abundance of festivals, but after a couple of years, they get old. If you have been to one, you have been to them all. In the US I merely disliked summer, and that’s because it’s not difficult to get away from, but in uninsulated Japan it is omnipresent. It’s 3 months of living with a constant glaze of sweat, punctuated with a random blast of air conditioners set to arctic levels.
Anyways… Tick tock tick tock
Time. This was the first song I ever really connected with in a deep way and to this day remains one of my favorite songs on my absolute favorite album. I remember it like it was last night. I was a Junior high-school student, about to make the annual spring break trip to Myrtle beach. At the time I was almost exclusively nocturnal, and it was somewhere around 2 or 3am and I was working on a painting scene from my backyard in North Carolina of trees at my favorite time of day. That moment of a brand new night when there is a string of vivid color on the horizon and you can only really see the silhouette of things against the sky. It was a theme I repeated a lot through many of my later paintings. It was a snapshot in time for no particular reason other than realizing it’s passing. That’s just how I am. Certain sights, sounds or tastes have imprinted on me as a snapshot of a particular moment or era. Another example of this is the sky. The way the clouds are, the way the colors are the way the temperature is, will make me think of a time and place in my life. Because I have moved so much, a ‘California sky’ is referring to when I was a high school student in Southern California. My wife is quite familiar with me saying something like this, and my needlessly repeating what I mean for the 50th time what I mean by a ‘California sky’. A California sky, by the way, is a certain coloration of a dry, cloudless sky and a cool breeze, typical for any desert climate I suppose. Yesterday, as it was, was a North Carolina sky. The climate in Japan is very similar to North Carolina, but what I call a North Carolina sky is a rare strictly autumn, late afternoon thing. It reminds me of when I would take a shortcut through a small wooded area and a field on the downward slope of a hill after Elementary school. I was usually in a rush so I could make it home in time to catch GI Joe on TV. The way the autumn sun hung in the sky and the way the trees were just starting to give way to the onset of winter. It’s the memory and beauty of seeing everything in HD as opposed to the jaded drudgery of adult life that a North Carolina sky captures. I was walking back from the grocery store, laden with groceries in my Whole foods shopping bag (a good insulated one… One of the best purchases I made before coming to Japan) when it struck me hard that it was a North Carolina sky. All those memories came flooding into me in a staggering instant. Almost like a little house on the prairie moment.
The idea of time stuck with me for the rest of the day. How my time in Japan now is so different from the time when I first came. In 2001, contact with my family back home was limited to emails and expensive phone calls. When I would go and visit, which was far more frequent back then than it is now, I could see how much they have changed. Now, I Skype with my family in the US almost everyday. I also spend Christmas morning with them on Skype. My father sets the webcam on top of a painting in the family room and runs the line to the laptop on the coffee table… So I am there in a virtual way. They don’t seem so far away as before. The early part of the millennium, the internet was still a very Wild Wild West kind of thing. YouTube, Skype didn’t exist. Home pages were a new thing and Blogs didn’t really exist. Social media didn’t exist at all… No Facebook, MySpace, or twitter. If you wanted to stay in touch electronically, email was about it. It must of really been like being lost on a dark continent in the 80s and 90s.
Oh well… Time ticks on.