And so now I return to my regularly scheduled life.
Doing a big campaign like Foster Campbell is like going off to war except nobody dies and I don’t end up with PTSD. But now I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to take my wife to dinner and enjoy her making fun of my bed head hair when I get up in the morning. I want to play golf on Saturday mornings. I want to surprise my daughter when I pop in and have lunch with her. I want to take care of my clients. I want to be able to say yes when a friend wants to have a drink after work. I’m gonna go see my mother, and my brother. A friend of mine is buying a boat and, even though I don’t know anything about boats and I have a moderate fear of deep water, he wants me to go with him to get it and I think I will.
All of that will be awesome. This campaign will become a memory. The adrenaline rush of trying to bend an entire state to my will, on a deadline, with strategies, words and pictures cannot be adequately explained to someone on the outside. We won a lot of races this year and I had the good fortune to elect the governor of Louisiana 25 years ago. But the world has changed yet again and Foster Campbell striding onto the floor the United States Senate is not to be. The world is a sadder place because of that because John Neely Kennedy will be a boring lapdog and Foster Campbell in the United States Senate … that … that would’ve been a hell of a damn show.
I took this photo and wrote this more than a decade ago. Tonight, Americans will put aside their differences and watch a baseball game. This is why:
This has been a great year. A year of highs and lows. Of sweet memories and bitter disappointment. This picture is one of my favorites from the year … the hands of the JV squad joined together before a game. Such hope. Such promise.
When I think back to all the times I’ve spent with my children at ballparks over the years it seems like I’ve spent a lifetime there … and it’s gone by in the blink of an eye. I’ve eaten some great hamburgers and some bad hotdogs at the ballparks. Our children and our team have brought us together. Many of us would never have met otherwise.
There is a timeless quality to a baseball game … a suspension of time. Baseball is the only major team sport without a clock. It’s the only major team sport where the defense starts every play with the ball. It is a game of finesse and power, of speed and deliberation, of individual effort and teamwork. One mighty swing, one errant throw can change the course of a game in the blink of an eye.
It has been such a joy to watch these young men grow and develop over time. One of the players from last year was at the ballpark today and it was like seeing an old friend. We shook hands and in that handshake were all the memories of last year and of this year and of all the memories yet to be.
We will never regret our hours at the ballpark. We will remember the wins and forget the losses. We will come across a picture in a box some distant day and we will feel the dust of the field in our mouths, we will remember our children standing in the closely-mown grass and we will remember these timeless days with sadness and longing.
May 11, 2004
“All things on earth point home in old October:
sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences,
hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds,
the lover to the love he has forsaken.”
– Thomas Wolf
As I walked I came upon a scene of violence. The limb of a tree fell from a great height and crashed into the railing of a bridge over the river. A beam shattered. Nails pulled from wood with a great screeching sound. The limb in the water. All quiet now. But the violence remains. Hanging in the air.
Music has always spoken to me since that day in the fourth grade when a band director put a trumpet in my hands and asked me if I wanted to be in the band.
I am ecumenical when it comes to music. I owe my allegiance to no artist or style but rather find myself drawn to the beauty, power and mystery in all musical forms and styles. I listen to music often when I write or when I’m editing photographs. I listen when I drive, when I take long walks and in the little dead places in life where nothing else is happening (standing in lines, walking between the parking lot and the office, getting dressed, waiting for airplanes to take off.)
I used to listen to a lot of Chill. It was like having a soundtrack to my life played through the speakers of the humongous SUV I drove at the time. In recent years, I fell under the thrall of Dub Step, the London underground mashup of electronic dance music, power chord rock and roll, heavy bass and anything else you want to throw in the blender of Fruity Loops (a computer program for editing music). I especially love “the drop”, a moment in most Dub Step songs when after a soulful or intricate opening there is a dramatic pause and then a blast of sonic energy in the form of a wall of music that makes one imagine a warehouse full of people jumping up and down in unison and joy.
Imagine my wonder, in recent days, when I stumbled onto ChillStep, the bastard child of two genres of music I had, until then, loved equally but separately. I had used a voice command to tell my handy electronic assistant to play a Dub Step playlist and somehow, not once but twice, the assistant responded, “Playing ChillStep playlist.”
The calm moody laid back world of Chill jammed up with the frenetic power of Dub Step. ChillStep appeared as a revelation. Calming and energizing in turn.
I commend it to you.
About 20 years ago, I crept into my children’s bedrooms at about 3 a.m. and rousted them from their sleep.
“Come with me. Let’s go outside and watch the meteor showers.”
Tonight, I went out to watch the Perseid meteor shower again. I saw a lot of meteors but it was the memories that came thick and fast.
As a boy, my best friend and I built telescopes from parts we ordered from the Edmund Scientific Catalog. I studied the stars. Traveled to them in my mind. Developed a love for the mysteries of the night sky and the universe. When the city came and installed a street lamp, I shot it out because it cut down dramatically on what I could see in the night sky. It made perfect sense to me but neither my father nor the public works department were amused. Another night my friend’s mother locked up the house and went to bed without knowing that we were on the roof stargazing.
As a young man, I remember walking to the barn to milk before day break and seeing the Milky Way in sharp relief against and deep black sky, unpolluted by street lamps. I could barely make it out tonight from my suburban neighborhood with the bright lights of Nashville castings its glow from the east.
And then that night I woke up William and Marshall and explained to them what was happening as streaks of light coursed across the sky. They still remember that night fondly. They were sleepy and groggy but they turned their faces to the sky and were delighted when they saw the shooting stars. I suspect they will always remember that and, perhaps some future night, they will wake their own children and make new memories. With their faces turned, once again, to the night sky they will begin a story by saying, “Your grandpaw did this one night with us a long time ago.”
Memories, like the stars themselves. Steady.Sometimes harder to see than others. Always there.