Back to the now

If this past year was a jump into a future I haven’t had yet—being 80 when I’m only 50—I thought I was trying to get out of the future and into the present.

When the cancer crisis pushed me out of the biggest event of my new job last year, I had to accept that I would have to wait to experience Coachella, the biggest music festival in America. I walked into the spectacle last weekend. In my mind  I’d be joining the life in the present that I’d skipped the track on last year.

I’m not a fan, or a customer of the festival. Of course I’m a fan, but in this case I’m a worker ant, moving the pieces to put the art puzzle together. My ant eyes could only see so much. Still- I looked through a wormhole—a tear in the fabric of my universe

The sensation of time doesn’t follow any laws. 

The stages, the clothes, the images and the music exploded my mind. 

Was I in a warped and fabulous future? was I so out of step with culture that the current moment was unrecognizable?

Maybe it wasn’t the moment, maybe it was myself that I didn’t recognize.

The reporting on this year’s festival declared it was a celebration of 90s music. Time warp to 30 years past. When am I again?

As the worker in this temporary carnival, I had access to the back lot. All the workers came through the mess tent—catering is what they call it in the entertainment biz. Care was taken to make it pleasant. Big speakers played songs for people as they ate.

I expected a playlist of songs from the performers that were scheduled for the festival. What I got was the hits of the 80s 90s and …nothing from today.

Which edge is the cutting one?

While I was fretting that I was out of step, the trend is moving back in time. It’s not that the latest music isn’t appreciated by the newest generation. But music from 30-50 years back is also popular. When the festival organizers picked No Doubt and other 90s acts, they were tapping into a real impulse.

Cover songs and retro originals are popular right now. Comfort culture perhaps? The streaming stats show that GenZ is a big consumer of 2000s music. More and more cover tunes come up in my media

The stagecraft at Coachella is new, but I am familiar with how music is being used and spread.

The way music is discovered and consumed has to do with the many ways it can be delivered. Background music used by content creators is moving toward nostalgic styles of royalty free music. 

This has happened before. There was a ASCAP strike in 1942. Musicians had to play songs that were public domain (royalty free) while things were beign worked out. That was the big band jazz era. They ended up finding songs from decades past that kept them working. The jazz standard “As Time goes by” was from that time. 

It’s new if it’s new to me. It’s also new if I am seeing it in a way I never have before.

New perspectives were pushed on me. Here I’m seeing new angles on thingd I’ve known for a long time.


This is rare. I make sure to write this essay every week. I’ve blogged for 22 years and sent out  this weekly wonder email for more than ten years. 

It’s part of my identity. I never missed it during my chemo treatments, and I am fairly certain I didn’t miss it anytime before.

And yet.

I have two hours to write something, and I’m not even sure what it will be.

I’ve been waking up and trying to get back to …normal?

This makes me think of what we were all saying during the COVID lockdowns: the new normal.

I spent this weekend working the Coachella festival event. Before I got this job, I would never have aspired to go to this event. It seemed like something that was too high above me.

But then I got a job at the company that puts it on. I was very thrilling with anticipation. Especially  to see the technical side, which is even more exclusive. I could hardly wait to get there.

Until I was surprised with cancer news. Surgery was scheduled last year on the very first day.

No Coachella 2023 for me.

It’s been quite a year. I had the festival on my mind as I tracked my appointments and timed when I would have my strength back to experience the festival.

What I didn’t properly account for what how depleted I would be the day after.

The entire weekend I was at the festival and was knock flat by so many things. What an event!

And the next few days I could barely function. This is the wednesday after, I realized I forgot to write this essay.

My mind was so full, and so physically exhausted that I couldn’t tease out the thread of a profound thought to explore.

Gravity has increased for me so that I couldn’t get out of bed.  I had so many experiences—sights, sounds, feelings and sensation—that I’m still exploring.

My world got so small—in COVID and then again last year. This festival reminded me of how big and beautiful the world can be, and that I’m invited to be part of it.

habit forming

I’ve always been a systems person. Some people think of it as habits. I have systems and I work them consistently—even when I was very little. It makes sense to me, and I like getting things done that way.

But a year ago, I was shaking as I looked into the future of a big surgery. Then all the things that came after that. All the things that I put my body through.

In ways I never had before, I let go of anything that wasn’t necessary. It took all I had to do the basics. The minimum took all I had.

Old habits fell away.

And now I’m coming up from the depths. I’m still not sure which way is up.

I had to take an online class for work, so I chose one on time management. An easy basic that I could do without thinking about it.

Until I was hearing the systems the teacher was pushing. I knew all this!
This was basic, stuff I was already and expert at.


I realized I’d lost my expertise. I’d put these skills down on the side of this road.

Can I pick it up again? Am I ready?

Questions must be asked.

Last week I walked a labyrinth. I’ve talked before about the joy I have in walking the twisted meditative path I find in a labyrinth.  Last time I walked one was before this cancer journey.

And this time, I went into the labyrinth and walked layers of time. While in the present, I remembered who I was the first time I walked it. I remembered the push and the urgency I felt, the drive to get THERE.

What is there has changed significantly. The surroundings have added so much to the way. 

I am thinking, these new old habits are changed too. I’m seeing how things fit together, now that I’ve experienced a different way of attacking my basics. 

New systems could replace automatic habits. 


A marvelous part of my home is the gentle sunshine. Plants grow because we water them. Grass and flowers, vines and trees have a cycle I have watched for decades

My home in Alaska had plants, but not ones that we planted. The trees and shrubs came with. They self-planted and grew and watered themselves from the melted snow left behind over the summer.                      

Los Angeles County doesn’t leave water behind. We have watering systems.

And we have fruit trees we’ve planted. Citrus in particular, and I can see trees in neighbors yards and even my own. When they are in season, bright bulging fruit hang on the branches.

It’s still miraculous to me. Fruit trees were an impossible mystery to my young self.

Now I grow several different kinds. That means I have miracles within reach.

My orange tree is blossoming. It is covered with white buds, with a very few opened up into flowers that waft an extraordinary perfume.

I was there last season, when the blossoms came in. Then the petals fell and the tiny hard green spheres remained to swell all summer. Those that hung on to the tree became the succulent fruit for eating.

I look forward to those fruits. I talk to the tree and anticipate what kind of crop I will get each year.

I was there when the tree was planted. It was a slip of a tree, about 3 feet tall. Not a baby.

Not a seed.

I have grown plants from seeds. I think of cilantro seeds I’ve put in the ground. The tiny hard balls can sprout and grow into the leaves I like to put in my food.

It take a week or two…Or more…for those seeds to sprout. They come up in a two leaf combo, a little like arching rabbit ears. I didn’t expect that, because the harvested cilantro plants don’t look like that. The leaves look totally different. The first time I saw this sprout I pulled it because I thought it was a weed.

It didn’t look like I thought it would. I ruined the work I’d done in the intentional planting of the seeds because I thought I knew better.

I know they are miracles. An ordinary common miracle, and a miracle nonetheless. It speaks to me as I long for great things. I have ideas, dreams and desires. 

I’m trying to make progress toward those things. And I get in my way and ruin the progress. Hard as I try, I can’t know how everything will come out along the way. I have to leave room for what will come.

There are a lot of transformations between the seeds and the fruit.