Halfway through 2016 and Reflecting

June 16, 2016 on 4:29 pm by Michael Grey | In Humour, News, Photographs, Pipe Bands | Comments Off on Halfway through 2016 and Reflecting

I think it’s the early sunrise and especially bright eye-squinting mornings, just a little south of the 49th parallel, that reminded me today that we’re almost at the halfway point of 2016. Whoosh! That’s how time goes – and that’s how time flies. And so, as not to forget, and maybe omit something from what will surely turn out to be a mighty and interesting late-December 2016 summary, I thought I’d jot down a few personal highlights of the year that’s been so far. Not for you, of course, but for me! Me. Me. Me.

When thinking, in processing thoughts, just what makes a person think – of anything? What ignites a thought? A chance meeting with a new acquaintance or old friend? An email, a text, a dog’s bark, the weather, an online video, the news – the cat licking it’s arse – what random action or environmental thing triggers (and apologies in advance for using that word) a thought or thinking? And, again, in this case, thinking as reflection.

The awfulness that was the massacre in Orlando just last week made me pause – I know, like all of you – to think. In this terrible instance, of the twisted senselessness of one person’s action. It’s just almost too much to process. Among many things, I was again reminded of the remarkable fragility of life: One misstep on a city street, a bike ride taken unwisely on a road frequented by distracted drivers, an unexpected and unwelcome medical diagnoses. We just don’t know when our time’s up and sometimes, it doesn’t take a lot to see us clock out. A mad man with a semi-automatic weapon will do.

I think when we understand this we get a better understanding of what matters, what matters in our lives. When we get a better understanding of what really merits our attention. In getting a better sense of what matters – in the context of a life, well, surely to God, we gain wisdom. Even if a little. A little wisdom helps us make better decisions in how we process the world around us – and what orbits our daily lives. Think wisdom as shit filter, or, maybe better put, shit processor (so much more elegant, I know).

Now. I am not suggesting for a minute I have a lot of wisdom. I absolutely believe in my heart of hearts I have some wisdom. But “some” is as good as it gets. And I’m thankful for that. So acknowledging that harsh reality, I give you some of my half year highlights. And as I write this, I cringe a little thinking, why would you care. But such is the way of the internet, we imagine everyone cares – or, at least, gifts us some of their attention. Smiley face.

And I get the irony of talking about what matters and then talking about goddamn bagpipe highlights. I do get that. But even these little “piping” experiences feel warmer and more interesting when considered and interpreted through a grander lens.

OK. Stepping down from the pulpit and keeping it short (reminder: bagpipes blog, bagpipes focus, zzzz.]

1. The January “Live in Ireland 87” project. Genuinely hard work but what a massive reward (these two things are connected, I have found – by the way). This celebration – not a tribute, per se, or “reenactment” (good grief), the whole re-imagining of the 1987 Ballymena concert with a transformed roster of seriously diverse musicians made the thing unforgettable. This late January week proved to be a case study of what happens when we see the right people in the right place at the right time. Download the video now for goodness’ sake!

2. Band practice the morning after the January 30th show: yikes. Hungover (deluxe) – and, so, not a little embarrassed – I turned up at the Glasgow Police band’s practice showing more green, maybe, then the program from the afternoon before. My pipes were safely back at the hotel but Stuart McCallum, good guy that he is, handed me his pipes to play through some tunes. Ugh. The faces on Iain MacPherson and Duncan Nicholson are well-remembered, to say the least. What a fine team.

3. A visit to Copenhagen in March: the Copenhagen Winter Competitions marked an unforgettable cultural experience. A little adjudication, a little piping, a lot of fun – and friendship. The Danes are a warm people (well, at least, the boozy ones I met) and Denmark’s most famous piper, Bernard Bouhadana, for the record, rarely, if ever, makes a note error. Oh, and one Stephen Creighton of SLOT has one of the fun-loving-ist of personalities I have yet met. Great memories.
S Creighton and M Grey, Copenhagen
4. And, finally, sitting on the “bench” with friend, teacher and piping maestro, Bill Livingstone at the contest that honours his dad the first Saturday of every May – just great, serious fun. This year’s Livingstone Invitational in Hamilton, Ontario, was of a super high standard. Here we had pipers playing their hearts out, making music, bringing the good tunes forward. A real treat – and spending 8 to 10 hours “co-listening” to tunes will bring anyone together. It’s been proven. Anyway, I’m resolved to have more great, serious fun.

And that’s it: A mid-year recollection of a few piping memories – passed along via my own hard-earned shit filter.

You’ll have your own hard-earned shit filter, of course. So on you go and reflect – and with a shout out to the City of Washington Pipe Band and their excellent mock-Latin motto, Illegitimi non carborundum, or, “don’t let the bastards grind you down”. And hope, too, that bastards everywhere have no semi-automatic weapons.


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