THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT (October 5, 2020)
This coming Thursday, I will celebrate 65 trips around the sun, and wow, is that ever a kick in the pants. It seems like just last week, I was the idiot wearing the Lady Godiva wig, while smashed, and dancing to Haircut 100 music at one of my wild Halloween parties. Decidedly no wiser, I am starting to feel older. So much has happened in the past 30 years, and it seems as if the more complicated my life has become, the more out of touch I am with the passage of time. To all you 20-somethings out there, be forewarned: time has a way of pulling the rug out from under you. Lately, when I look in the mirror, I see Festus from Gunsmoke looking back at me. Where did I go? I lost track somewhere in my 30's.
Out in Banff, Alberta, in the now famous Room #421, I wrote a song shortly before my 51st birthday. It was a forbidding, cold, grey, wet, mountain morning, and the wind was howling through the larch trees. I felt some kind of ominous vibe in the air (perhaps I was 15 years too early), and I wrote “The Wind Begins To Blow.” There’s a verse in the song which reads, “Lately I’ve been thinking that my time is passing faster, and I feel some sense of dire urgency. In a month or so, I’ll usher in my 51st year, and I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be.” Much has changed in the past 15 years, but I'm trying harder not to “sweat the little stuff” as much as I used to. I also try to avoid that to which I allude in the song; I try not to be disappointed by what I have not accomplished. As I write in an as-yet unfinished lyric: “Sometimes you’ve got to change your dreams before your dreams change you.”
Over the years, Shauna has arranged 2 surprise birthday parties for me. When I turned 50, she threw a surprise party for me at the Oban Inn at Niagara-On-The-Lake, where we had our first blind date. That was the last birthday I celebrated with my mom and dad attending, and there were a lot of close friends and family at that party. It remains one of my happiest memories. She arranged the second surprise party for me when I turned 60. I was at the radio station, broadcasting my Lyrical Workers show, and she secretly arranged for some friends to hijack me in the parking lot as I was leaving the station, and accompany me to a local restaurant. The problem was, I wasn’t aware that anybody was waiting for me, I lingered at the station longer than I normally do, and people were shivering outside on a cold October night, waiting for over an hour. I felt terrible once I discovered that. Both of those birthday parties were wonderful in their own way, but thankfully, there will likely be no surprises this year. Once again, I will celebrate a milestone birthday by presenting my Lyrical Workers show, something I love to do. This week, I’ve asked my listeners to suggest any unusual birthday songs they’d like to request.
I don’t really have many big regrets so far. Sure, I’ve squandered some of my time playing in life’s casino, but who hasn’t? I was going through an old photo album the other day, and I saw some photos I have not seen in a long time. One of the positive results of this self-imposed seclusion is that it has given me ample time to reflect. Last week, we Jews just ushered in Yom Kippur, our highest holy day of the year. It is a day we fast, reflect upon our lives, and atone for any possible sins. I am not a religious man, but I take stock annually of how I have fallen short, and it is a meaningful exercise for me. Everything has been going too fast in the past decade. In some strange way, I am relieved that the world has slowed down. I am not as attention-challenged, and I can take the time to smile at a photograph of a bunch of my merry pranksters, launching water balloons at the Comet roller coaster in Crystal Beach.
The guy staring back at me in the mirror might look like a grumpy old curmudgeon, approaching his 65th birthday, but the guy behind those eyes still imagines waking up the neighbours with loud Rock ‘n Roll music. As my late brother-in-law said before he passed: "Don’t postpone joy".
Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED