December 29, 2017

Just Saying…

By Q.C. Jones

Unfocused Thought and the New Year

Random and innocent comments sometimes spur deep thought; allow me a story. Last month I went to see an obscure but talented young band of musicians from Jackson, Tennessee.  While generally the banter between songs at these performances trends toward jokes and idle chit chat, the young singer said something strangely profound and thus set wheels of unfocused thought rolling through my brain.

Making the point that even though he hailed from Tennessee, his family roots were deeply set in Quad Cities soil, he tossed out a bit about John Steinbeck (that must read author from High School American Literature).  The comment went something like this, “John Steinbeck had a thing about blood in the soil and the land of your ancestors.”

Even though nearly a half century had passed since my last foray into the literary work of Mr. Steinbeck, memories of blood flowed front and center. Visions of the blood red “Grapes of Wrath” flashed images of Okies motoring to the promised land of California with long, tall Henry Fonda at the Model-T wheel and granny riding shotgun somewhere behind pulsed into my consciousness. Okies, ah, Oklahoma… For a quick moment, I envisioned my lovely Okie bride riding on top of an ancient truck loaded with old mattresses and rusty pots and pans headed for the sunny west coast shores.

Strangely, this picture morphed into another familiar scene. With banjos playing and my beautiful bride somehow ended up as Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies. I don’t know why but the truck remained the same, but the characters turned from dead serious to hilariously funny.  Refocusing on Steinbeck…. I found myself “East of Eden.”

First James Dean came dimly into view set in rural California scenery. I recalled that East of Eden was billed as John Steinbeck’s rewrite of the Bible’s Genesis without all the snakes. Dean played the part of Cain, and pushing my memory further it seemed his fictional father in the film was named Adam. For those of you who missed the story in Sunday school, here is a quick rundown taken directly from the Bible:

And Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field,” and when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. 9 And the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother? And he said, “I do not know: am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And He said, “What have you done? Listen… your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil.

Ok, now it’s starting to come together. Blood in the soil.  My thoughts started to congeal. Even though I wasn’t planning on taking a meandering trip through great novels
and the Bible, it brought me face to face with a couple of important thoughts.

First, even though I am not from here, I have put blood, sweat and tears into the rich Quad-City soil.  I have buried five beloved family pets in a shady spot on a QCA hill.  There are a half dozen friends laid to rest in nearby spots, I stop and contemplate their life and the impact they made on mine from time to time. The coming of a new year is a great time to reflect on life, love and those dear.

Secondly, I never write serious articles.  Maybe this was an omen.

With all of this swirling through my thoughts, I feel now is a good time to set resolutions for the coming year. With that, here is a short but serious list of things I testify to.

I plan on stopping periodically and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the QCA.  I am constantly amazed by the sensual beauty of the Mississippi at dawn, the red glow of sunsets in the evening hours and the falling asleep to the distant wail of some west bound train.

I plan to set work aside a day or two every so often to re-explore the historic and cool spots of our four downtowns.  Walking the alleys and lesser traveled spaces somehow
connects me with days gone by.

I plan to broaden my horizons by playing music with new people.  For those of you who don’t play, allow me to say playing music with others is a form of conversation. Everybody learns from the others and even if the “musical flow” is difficult, you walk away with a whole new outlook.

I commit to finding time to phone a friend for coffee just because.  There is something calming about talking without an agenda.

I commit to spending some time with my wife just doing nothing. We have devoted our lives to picking up groceries, running to various hardware stores and handling errands. I want to just sit somewhere and watch the world go by.

Finally, a word about 2018. The Mayan Calendar predicted the world would end in 2012, old Nostradamus said to expect the end in 2016.  Predictions aside, we all are living on borrowed time.  Since it’s borrowed, let’s spend it wisely.

Just saying….

Filed Under: History, Humor