Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Mama said there'll be days like this"...

..."There'll be days like this, my Mama said." Great tune! It's like listening to Gnarls Barkley or Shawn Colvin (she's got a great "unplugged" version) singing "Crazy" - an absolutely driving rhythm that's so cool and a song that Rolling Stone magazine named "a best".

With "Mama Said", I'm instantly transported to Grade 6 when the Shirelles, one of the early 60's rock 'n roll bands, sang this song that topped the charts. Of course, there may be some faithful readers who are too young to remember! My contemporaries and cohort might have shared the experience of attending a school dance and feeling the early adolescent heart beating with an accelerating pace as the DJ/chaperon (a faithful teacher or parent - hopefully not your own parent!) played "Soldier Boy", another memorable Shirelles' hit, on a freshly minted "45" - while you worked up your nerve to actually "cross the floor" to ask that pretty girl, who sat at the desk in front of you, to dance. I might have made it a half dozen steps across the gym before retreating back to the safety of the other guys who agreed that it was way better to stick together than risk almost certain rejection! And during those traumatic adolescent years, when there was rejection or when things just didn't turn out the way you dreamed they would, well, like the song said: "Mama said there'll be days like this!"

Such is life. It's a bit of a "given" that some days will meet all of our great expectations and other days, well, they just won't work out the way that we'd hoped. Reminds me of a recently planned paddling trip that we'd looked forward to with anticipation - filled with the promise of a day’s adventure!

We packed up the dry bags and loaded them into the HMKTV ("High Mobility Kayak Transport Vehicle"), strapped the kayaks into the secure embrace of their cradles, detoured via the "drive thru" window for the mandatory take away coffee (always rather "risky", given the limited opportunities to "go to shore"), boarded the ferry to our favourite Gulf island, drove to the designated launch spot - and after all this, found ourselves sidelined! The wind was up - big time! This turn of events was not in the “forecast” -weather or otherwise!

The adrenaline, which had been building over the past several hours, had nowhere to go but into a desperate attempt to discern a strategy on how we could, despite the conditions, launch through the increasingly foam-capped, wind-driven waves that were crashing menacingly onto the rocky shore - without destroying our kayaks or ending up looking rather silly for trying in the first place. The latter was probably guaranteed as a number of folks had parked and were watching with interest to see how heroic (or incredibly dumb!) the two paddlers (us) might prove to be. In the end, we opted not to launch - thus preserving our boats, our egos, and our perfect record for staying out of the evening news! Well, whatever...we were sidelined, and after all our preparations, I felt a little grumpy about that.

Now I know full well that just because the wind comes up and you can't go paddling - that's no reason for a sad face. It's a pretty insignificant thing and, to be honest, I do know that, in the scheme of things, stuff like that doesn't matter one bit. I was, therefore "over it" before Joan had to reel me in, which occasionally she has to do. Hey, there's already enough misplaced angst and energy over "burnt toast" issues in the world - situations that don't warrant our emotional energy or our time. Like the song said, "Mama said there'll be days like this" - that's a given and how we react to such circumstances is the important thing.

After a recent conversation on a similar subject, a friend sent me a video of Darryl Worley, singing "Sounds Like Life to Me". As with a lot of country music, Darrly's lyrics reflect with honesty and clarity some of the everyday issues that folks wrestle with in life. Oh, I suppose, those who don’t like this music genre will raise an eyebrow - of course, you don't struggle with these matters. Yeah right, as if! Smile. I think that for most, our days can be an amalgam of joys and heartaches, high expectations and unexpected disappointments, dreams fulfilled and dreams on hold. As the words in the song go, "sounds like life to me."

Struggle, though, has another persona. Or, maybe it is our response to struggle that changes the face of life's "speed bumps". The way we deal with difficult circumstances can, indeed, reveal an inner courage and determination, stamina and endurance, patience and calmness - all waiting for their moment in the sun. The late Dr. George Sheehan, runner, cardiologist, philosopher and friend to all who would test their ability to endure, quoted psychologist William James saying that “sweat and effort and human nature strained to its utmost and on the rack, yet getting us through alive, is the sort of thing that inspires us". I believe that the inspired heart and mind are a good match for life’s struggles. The inspired heart and mind, triggered by a positive, confident, and measured response to difficult issues and situations, exudes a warm glow that burns away the fogs that would envelope us. We know that “Mama said there’ll be days like this.” Even the most difficult days, understood as part of the fabric of our living, hold the potential for surprising revelations of strength and resiliency.

We couldn't paddle that day. We did, however, find a marvellous trail to run along on which fresh salal berries and blackberries provided the most sumptuous, refreshing (and unexpected) treat. Much better than going home grumpy.



  1. Ah Duncan, I now have a clear picture of you trying to bolster up enough courage to go and ask "the girl" to dance! I also imagine it was Joan's good sense that kept you off the water that day. haha After these last few days of craziness, I just keep saying to myself "sounds like life to me" It all does't seem so bad when you look at it from that perspective. (guess I'm too young to remember your "Mama said ..."song)
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Thanks L,

    It's like Tom Cochrane's song, "Life is a highway". When the sign says, "bumps ahead", you kinda know to get ready - brace yourself or detour. Sometimes we just help each other through the "bumpy' times. Seems the road signs are out there - at least that gives us time to fasten the seatbelts!