I came of age in the 70s and was fortunate to have been exposed to James Taylor early in his career. Even though I grew to prefer loud smash mouth music, Sweet Baby James was always the go-to background guy for cuddling and make out sessions with your best girl.
In a lot of ways, I guess he still is. There’s just something about that voice… smooth and soft and laid-back… just relaxed and chill. I have lost count, over the years, of how many times I’ve gotten worked up or felt put out about something or another and started humming one of his countless ballads and felt instantly better.
I was reminded of this the other day when I had to go out for an emergency run – to that big box store that everybody loves to hate – because I needed to replace, of all things, my front door knob. While I might have preferred to go to that other big box store (you know the one… the handyman’s “Graceland”), but it’s not on a bus line and it’s too dangerous to walk given all the ice and snow that nature dumped on us over the holiday.
Forced to choose between preference and convenience, I gathered up the necessary quarters and my senior fare discount ID card and trundled down to the bus stop. Unlike my usual shopping adventures, this trip would require that I disembark from the first bus partway into town and walk several blocks in order to catch a second bus that would take me to my destination farther out toward the outskirts of the city proper.
When I arrived at the spot where I would have to await the transfer, I was amazed by how much snow the city plows had pushed up, over, and around the waiting area. The snow bank must have been three or four feet deep and would have otherwise rendered the bus stop useless save for the brave soul that had carved out enough of it to be able to get inside and away from the wind.
I began to wind myself up. I started bitching out loud about the utter lack of care or concern, on the part of the city, over how important it was to provide safe access to city services for those of us out here that rely so heavily on them. And just about the time I had worked out my “flaming hate letter” to the new mayor in my head, I began to hear Sweet Baby James singing “try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride”:
At that point, all I could do was chuckle, pull up my 70s Spotify list… scroll down to that song… and think back to the picture I had taken earlier that morning of the Sun shining through that leafless tree. I realized that there are only so many things over which we really have any control and that – at the end of the day – all any of us can do is make the most of what we can and figure out how to enjoy the ride through everything else.
James Taylor is exactly right: The secret of life really IS just enjoying the passage of time.