I don’t sing much, at least according to my Asian wife who’s grown up on karaoke. This morning, however, as I took Jack for a walk and was only a block down Hackberry Lane, I realized I was singing I am a Rock. Wow! A better writer might stop right there and let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. I am not that better writer, and besides, I need to do a little reflection for myself. 

First of all, I am (regardless of the depressing nature of the song’s lyrics) doing fine. It reminds me of a time many years ago when a friend of mine went to a record store and bought albums by Phil Ochs, Gram Parsons, and Janis Joplin. The guy behind the counter asked, in all seriousness, whether she was okay. 

I am content right now. Considering the current state of the world and the current state of my personal affairs, I might be happier than I have right to be. 

    • It is mid-January in Wisconsin (i.e., the dead of winter)
    • Politics and the American electorate are a disaster (although I am hopeful)
    • COVID worsens (although I am hopeful)
    • I have not seen my wife in four months, and I have another two months to go
    • My daughter is home, but only because her college isn’t allowing her to return to school during the pandemic
    • No one wants to publish the book I have been working on for the past four years
    • My prostate is the size of a pear (this may be the only item on the list that is irreparable)
    • My eyeglass prescription is off just enough to give me headaches when I read, but because of social distancing, I haven’t gone to an optometrist 
    • Now that I recall Phil Ochs and Gram Parsons, I worry about the quirky people who used to work in record shops and used bookstores. 

Of all the complaints in this whiny collection of concerns, the one that bothers me the most is January in Wisconsin. Usually cold weather and short days don’t affect me much, but this year has been different. Maybe it’s the social distancing, maybe it’s a wife half a world way, but for the first time in a long time, I’ve let winter get to me a bit. Manyu and I have long talked about moving back to Asia, but our conversations lately have been more frequent and more specific. I have one more adventure left in me. I haven’t felt this unsure about my future since I was twenty-five years old, but unlike COVID and American politics, the uncertainty feels good. 

Steven Simpson