2020: Dream is Collapsing

Bayou St. John
Sunrise over Bayou St. John, December 27, 2020

Fear not! This post is not as dire as the title might have you believe. In truth, it’s the name of the song I listened to the most in 2020, if I am to believe Spotify. It’s an instrumental piece, full of drama and portent, by Hans Zimmer. Many memorable action sequences from the movie Inception are set to this piece of music.

And to prove that I was not all about ominous, reality-busting mythos this past year, my second-most-listened-to song of 2020 was “Wishing Well” by Terence Trent D’Arby.

But I have to admit, if I was to create a piece of fiction based on this past year, I’d be afraid to reference “Dream is Collapsing,” because it’s just a little too perfect.

When I think of my own particular ambitions for this past year, pre-pandemic, I can’t really say they collapsed — it’s more like they deflated. And I’m mindful of how fortunate I am in that scenario, so what follows aren’t complaints, just examples. Specifically about writing and running, two solitary activities that, in theory, could still go on with little interruption in our current environment.

Regarding writing, the best excuse I can give is that a combination of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt kept me from settling into the necessary re-writes on my third novel. We’re talking another level of procrastination. And regarding running, I didn’t run the New York Marathon in November, because there wasn’t one to run.

I see a bright side to this deflation, though. I feel like I can see a little more clearly without all the puffiness of my aspirations getting in the way. No, I didn’t write as much as I “should” have, but I did read a bunch. Most notably: for sheer volume, War and Peace and David Copperfield; and, for giving me stuff to think about, Bhagavad Gita and Frederick Douglass’s Why is the Negro Lynched?

Running-wise, if I had run the marathon, I most likely would not have run the Trail-Zilla half-marathon trail run with nieces Nicole and Cece a few weeks ago. And I would have missed out on a really challenging, but fun, shared experience.

So I don’t regret my flat tires. Just hoping to get enough air in them to get me back out on the road before too long.

Norco
The view from Trail-Zilla

Happy Birthday, Ghost in the Machine!

The original (Christmas?) gift. Note the Invisible Sun in the upper right.

The Police released their fourth studio album, Ghost in the Machine, 38 years ago today. October 2, 1981.

I happened across this fun fact last weekend, when I had a yen to hear “Spirits in the Material World.” Spotify obliged, and even gave me the opportunity to listen to a few more favorite songs from The Police.

And then I got to thinking about when I first heard this music…the time in my life (and the world). Both Spotify and Google pegged the release date at October 2, 1981. I was in my final pre-teen year, and beginning to develop my own particular ear and tastes. But too young and unfunded to go shopping on my own. My guess is that I asked for (and received) the album as a Christmas gift that year.

While I occasionally post about music in this space, I feel like Pink Floyd makes the cut more often than most. But The Police were definitely my first favorite, and their music still holds significant resonance with me. I was pleased to discover I’ve referenced this album at least once before, waaaay back in the early days of this blog. (Frogs, Lizards, and the Ghost in the Machine)

I’ll conclude with a couple more fun facts:

  • The term “ghost in the machine” dates back to 1949, when philosopher Gilbert Ryle coined it to describe RenĂ© Descartes’s concept of human consciousness existing separate from the human body, or brain.
  • It’s taken on additional meaning with computer programmers, to describe when a program appears to run independent of the commands it was designed with.

Vinyl. One of roughly a dozen I’ve hung onto through the years, even though I no longer own a record player.