Letters to Old Bob: #4

September 23, 2017


It’s been too long. From my perspective, anyway. For you, it might just be the next letter in the stack. Months just vanish, swept away in a series of flailing attempts to “get stuff done.” Then the dust settles and I’m finally able to find a quiet moment to consider what has happened, not happened, gotten done, or been forgotten about altogether. Most of my days have been spent tending to elementary school children as they mourn the loss of parents and pets, protest against unfair treatment from teachers and peers, and remind me of the funniness of farts and poop and any unexpected event that happens along to relieve the boredom of becoming educated. One morning a little girl found a loaded handgun on the playground, buried in the sand. She picked it up and walked it over to the teacher. Curiously, this event never made the local news. Some mornings there are homeless people sleeping in the play tunnels on the playground. Needles have been found. Last week we had to lockdown the school after a local man threatened to “shoot up” a neighboring school a few blocks away. After they apprehended him, he explained that he was simply angry about the ways people in this town have been mistreating him.

Anyway, I do enjoy the job. It keeps me on my toes. I know I’m contributing something. Making a difference. And yet, I still resent how tired it all makes me. Every morning, dragging myself out of bed. Every afternoon, slumping on the couch as I catch up on the day’s news. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Another North Korean missile launched over Japan. Another outrageous tweet by the president. It’s all making me tired. Something’s making me tired, that’s for sure. Maybe my testosterone levels are dropping. Yours must be off-the-charts low by now Old Bob. Hopefully you’ve found an alternative source of élan vital, perhaps a spiritual source that you tapped back in 2017, just when you were about to resign yourself to the continual dimming of your inner flame.


Just returned from a three-mile run with my wife. Our wife. What a peach. I don’t need to tell you that, OB. While we ran I whined about my woes, and she suggested that I carve out some time for the tried and true things that never fail to feed my soul. Singing in the bathroom with my guitar. Writing. Meditating. Of course she’s right. She even offered to take over more of the chores, to free up some “Bob time.” You remember Bob time, don’t you OB? Maybe that’s all you have right now, all snug as a bug in my bright future. Tell me you finally made it there, OB. Tell me your soul is well fed, your heart singing.

Reminds me of the story I read to the first-graders this week: Howard B. Wigglebottom Listens to His Heart. It’s about a rabbit who loves to dance, but gives it up after being made fun of by the other kids as school. Eventually he finds his wiggle again, with the help of Grandpa Sammy. It’s funny how all these little social-emotional learning lessons I teach to the kiddos are often things I continually forget and need to revisit myself. How many times have I lost my wiggle, OB, and then found it again after rediscovering the same old nuggets of wisdom, which are always hidden in plain sight. Anyway, OB, I hope this particular lesson finally stuck at some point and you were able to move on to bigger and bolder adventures. In any event, the next time you’re singing in the bathroom, try busting out True Love Will Find You in the End by Daniel Johnston, or else St. Anne’s Parade by Shovels and Rope. When you glance over at the bathroom mirror, you just might snap back to “2017 you,” the same way I sometimes snap back to “1994 me” during the chorus of Pearl Jam’s Alive, or “2000 me” during the closing lines of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea:

Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all…

See you in that mirror.

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