Today is Kind of a Big Deal


Today is Kind of a Big Deal
by Dallas Doctor

(September 19, 2018)


Birthdays come and go.  Everybody’s got one.  Every day is somebody’s special day.  When you’re a kid, birthdays matter; when you’re an adult, they rarely indicate more than new set of digits.  I generally haven’t paid all that much attention as the years have accumulated; in fact, for most of my life, I promise, I couldn’t tell you how old I was without stopping to do the math in my head.  But today — 65 — a government-mandated milestone — has prompted me to do a little reflection.  And here’s what I’ve come up with:

Life is good!

Wait, let me explain:  Although I’ve never had anything like a formal “bucket list,” when I think back, I realize I’ve done some stuff. I’ve hiked the Nāpali Coast, sailed both the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, played music in 49-states and 27-countries, written a few books, danced drunk in the rain in the streets of Liverpool, partied with models and millionaires in Mallorca, and had sex at midnight on a dark, deserted beach in Cozumel. I’ve been BOTH the most-famous-person-in-the-room AND the least-famous-person-in-the-room enough times to know that the latter is better.  And I imagine each and every one of you reading this could tell similar stories about your own life.

Because just like many of you, I’ve experienced delectable feasts in some of the world’s finest restaurants with skyline views of Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Belgrade, Barcelona, and (my surprise favorite) Monte Carlo. Once in a while, I think it’d be fun to experience that particular flavor of outrageous decadence again, but here comes the weird part: “I already know what that feels like!”  I’ve lived it.  And loved it.  Many times before.  And, as wonderful as it is, it’s never (fundamentally anyway) all that different from real life.

Now of course, once in a while, I fleetingly think it’d be fun to repeat one (or several) of the more epic adventures from my past, but then I remember that I already know what those experiences feel like.  Not a single event, nor the thousands of other adventures too numerous to mention, are ever, in the moment, any different from actual real life.

And of course, probably very much like you, I’m also intimately familiar with the “other” end of the decadence-spectrum — the “I wonder if I’m going to be able to make rent this month” end of the spectrum.  But I’m beginning to realize that I liked those adventures too (even the ones we call struggles) every bit as much as the others.  They were just as real.  Just as experiential.  They get your attention too.  And looking back, I can’t regret them. How could I?  I’ve hungrily scrounged together enough loose change to scarf down yummy, satisfying comfort food in Great American roadside diners, Dublin pubs, Albanian taverns, Canadian cafés and Mexican huts.  Once in a while, I fleetingly think it’d be worth whatever the cost to get a chance to re-experience more lower-end-gastronomic-delights again (and I’m sure that would be pleasant), but again, I already know what those experiences feel like.

So what am I trying to say? When I think back on my actual real-life adventures (pick one of my 11-coast-to-coast-round-trips-across-America-without-a-windshield-on-a-motorcycle, for example), I realize that the visceral experience of each moment — in the moment — is not fundamentally different from walking to the market.  (I like walking to the market, by the way.)  As I put one foot in front of the other, I realize that walking to the market is not all that different from everything else.

So I’m obviously one of the lucky ones!  After 65-years, I not only have a lifetime of memories, but I still get to walk to the market. And you know what?  Maybe that’s enough?  Maybe that’s all there is?  Because seriously: no matter where you go or what you do, it’s never actually all that different from regular-old-every-day-real-life.

So what’s the point of all this?

The point is that, in spite of all this sameness, there IS something different now; there IS one thing about this stage of life that has, in fact, surprised me.

Here it comes now:  Most of you know, I made my living playing guitar for the largest part of my life.  And I genuinely loved that part of my life.

Most of you also know that I relocated Ringo and I to Europe from the US 16-months ago.

And here comes the weird part I never expected or imagined:

Within a week of arriving in Paris, I stopped picking up my guitars!

It’s been well over a year now and the callouses on my fingers have almost disappeared.  It strikes me as strange that I no longer play.  It strikes me as even more bizarre that I no longer want to.  But the desire, the dream, the endless hours of practice, the discipline, the determination, and the perseverance that I used to invest in my guitars are all now focused on rearranging words into sentences that will hopefully make sense to somebody, somewhere, someday.  It’s the last thing I ever expected, but rearranging words now takes up all my time and fills up all of those spaces that used to be taken up by chords, riffs, scales, lyrics, and melodies.

And I, for one, am surprised!  I promise I never expected this transition.  I didn’t see it coming at all because, like so many of my peers, I fell in love with guitar as a boy when I saw girls screaming at The Beatles.  I thought playing guitar would be a great way to impress girls.  And it was. For a long time, it was.  These days? … Not so much anymore.  So since arriving in France and everywhere we’ve traveled since, my last remaining guitar sits untouched in its case like a cranky old man who’s decided that girls are more trouble than they’re worth.  That’s not how I feel.  Not at all.  Not even close.  But like the old man who sits alone and unnoticed at the end of the bar, my last guitar remains untouched, nevertheless.

Now by necessity of course, I sold or gave away all but two guitars (from my rather extensive collection) before Ringo and I made the move to Paris.  Not without some sadness at parting, many treasured assets that I’d collected over the years were put to excellent use helping to fund this adventure Ringo and I are enjoying.  I calculated, at the time, that I could get by with only two guitars — my favorite electric and my favorite acoustic.

As it turned out, I brought two too many.

Interestingly, I sold my penultimate guitar — my favorite electric — a few weeks ago to raise some cash and I haven’t missed it for a single second.  The strange thing is that I used to love that guitar, but it wasn’t difficult to let it go!  I used to experience great waves of genuine joy from simply holding it.  But after more than 16-months over here, I hadn’t picked it up more than twice, and even then, I only played it for a few moments before putting it away.  I still have my favorite acoustic with me, but I keep it in its case.  I haven’t tucked it away yet; I keep it out where I can see it.  I prop it up in the chair next to me while I write.  It reminds me of who I used to be.

Sometimes I think I should go ahead and sell it.  But then I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t hang onto it just-a-little-bit longer, in case I ever get a chance at another adventure.  If it happens that no more opportunities come my way, that’s okay.  I’ve had more than my fair share already.  I’m not complaining.  Besides, even if another adventure DOES comes along, it’ll probably be a very-much like all of the others, anyway…  So that’s the thing right there!

Because to be honest, that’s the reason I still hang on to this last untouched guitar: it makes me feel like there are still possibilities in the world…

That’s why today is such a big deal: it made me realize I’m living the best of all possible lives: I have both my memories and my options.  The future is every bit as unknown and full of wonder as it ever was, and like I said in the beginning, to my great surprise, life is good…




18 Replies to “Today is Kind of a Big Deal”

    1. Thank you so much for those kind words, Pete! That means a LOT to me– Thank you! (They say write what you know, right???) Ha ha ha!

  1. Great sentiment Dallas. You have found the secret to happiness. It’s the serenity of getting older, accepting it and knowing you made the best of it(not to say it’s over yet). Coincidentally, I hiked the Napali Coast back in the 70″s.

    1. Oh, Thank you David! Isn’t the Napali Coast just the most amazing place — so incredible and unforgettable no matter how long ago you experienced it, it stays with you! Thank you for your kindness! And yes, still planning on the adventures not being over just yet… 😜

  2. I will never be without a guitar Dallas, it is my talisman. I,m just a bedroom strummer (I was going to put guitarist, but that would be a stretch of the imagination), sometimes I pick it up every day other times I just look at it, comforted by the fact that I could pick it up and play if I wanted to.
    I’ve had many guitars over the years, many sold for necessity when skint. None with regret though.
    I still own five, (do you know until I just counted I thought it was four) My blonde Strat will live with me till I die, my two acoustics, one of which is the most used may well go eventually ( probably when I trade them in for a better one) 😁.
    One must always keep one guitar for one never knows when one might get the urge. And playing guitar stops you urging. Well it stopped me from going blind.

    So hang on to that last guitar Dallas, for when you next come over to Blighty we shall drink a gallon of Guinness between us, find the poshest guitar shop in Liverpool and jam “Stairway to Heaven” in it. 😍

    Many happy returns Dallas.

    1. Michael, I was grinning ear to ear as I read that! I love that you’ve figured it out, because yes, even though it was my job to be on stage and play guitar, most of my very favorite times — the times I really loved and felt inspired — were alone in my bedroom. That’s where the discovery happens. The rest is show business. So if you have a go to guitar that you can pick and let ittake you away, then YOU sir, are a guitarist. (Do they allow “Stairway to Heaven” in UK guitar shops? I think it’s banned in the US.) 😆🤗😳

  3. I love this Dallas! Of all the people I’ve known, you are one of the most authentic! A true talent that brought me immense joy if only viewed over the web on Sunday morning. I often think if we had ever got to meet face to face we would talk for hours. I hope someday to do just that. Happy Birthday my friend. You & Ringo stay safe on your journeys!

    1. Arleen, I hope we get to do that as well. How fun would THAT be? There are few things in the world better than a conversation between friends. It’s one of my favorite pastimes, for sure. Sometimes you feel the connection right from the start and it never goes away. I thank you sincerely for your kindness (and please know that I recognize that this is not the first example of it). Thank you! You’ve repeatedly shown me over the past couple of years that both your head and your heart are in the right place. And those are two things I find very attractive in a person. So Thank you. And I’ll give Ringo a little extra love for you this morning. We are having a blast over here. 😊

  4. Great article; not what I expected! I too found it very interesting — almost ironic.

    I’m probably on the other side of the music curve (still practicing, playing endlessly and accumulating guitars and stuff). But if you substitute “golf clubs”, that would apply!

    I’m curious; what brand was very penultimate “favorite electric” and your last favorite acoustic??


    1. Thank you, Steve, and great question: It was my Elite Strat! (Black w/Maple fingerboard — my all time fav guitar) This baby was set right! Had all the extras, bells whistles, locking tuners, upgraded bridge, noisless p/u with etc.. the works. It was gorgeous! The thing played itself it was so smooth! Oh well… 😉 BTW: I hear what you’re saying about where you are now … and I did NOT put this in the article, BUT I think part of me setting it down was because it had become my “job” for so long. I could be wrong, but at some point, picking it up started to feel like work. It’s a lot like how, on the way home from a gig, you DON’T want to listen to music, you just want to enjoy a little silence for change. I think it was like that! Soooooo when I got to France, I guess I just didn’t feel like working. I might be making too much of that part of it; I don’t know, but it’s something I’ve wondered about. Best of luck with you passion though .. Seriously! I definitely understand and empathize. Rock On! 🤘

  5. My Aunt used to say getting older isn’t for sissies. Well my response was that life isn’t for sissies. We had many good laughs over not being sissies.
    You my friend are a shining example of looking life in the eye and saying “Bring it on!!”. And, yes, life is Very good🐕🍷🎸📚🍅😎❤

    1. Oh Very cool, Pat! I love BOTH of those sayings. I’m totally going to steal them and incorporate them into my daily conversations! Thank you! … Oh? And also: Thank you! ❤️

  6. Doc, not very many 65 year olds can touch the life you have lived thus far. You have been gifted with a life that many could never imagine. Not only are you brilliant and extremely well read, you have enjoyed the road most traveled, met thousands of special people from all parts of the globe….what more could a phenomenal human being desire. Oh yes, you thrive on a sincere desire to really listen and understand while communicating with your kids.

    We, who call ourselves your friends are grateful for what you contribute to our lives. Doc, you are appreciated for all your effective interpersonal leadership, your vision, proactive initiative and the guidance and wisdom you share with us on a daily basis. YOU ROCK!😍💕😎✌️

    1. Those are incredibly kind words Renee. Thank you so very much! Please know that I value our personal friendship as one of the most-fulfilling and rewarding things any lucky person can possibly ever experience. You provide unmistakable evidence of that value on a regular basis. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! ❤️

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