Jan 6 2014

Paul Williams



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Happiness, Living Fully, Longing, Moving Forward




It’s a new year.  And it’s always the same. On January 1st, 2014, I find myself zipping into the future wondering where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing come January 1st, 2015.  I haven’t even written 2014 on a check yet and I’m already wondering about that distant date.

That’s wondering, not worrying.  I’m amazed at the surprises the year provides and the twists and turns I couldn’t have imagined.   I’ve begun to realize that even what looks like simply bad news on the day it’s delivered will probably make sense if I give it time to evolve.  Sometimes what looked like doom and gloom turns out to be a lucky break.

I’m an eternal optimist.  I try to stay put in this perfect now but the future fascinates me. So I don’t spend much time looking back. Still, that backward glance has always inspired songwriters.

Harry Nilsson wrote a beautiful song called Remember.  Marilyn and Alan Bergman captured an Oscar with their intricate memories of “The Way We Were.” One of my dearest friends, the late Tom Jans spoke eloquently about “looking back and longing for the freedom of my chains and lying in your loving arms again

Memories are key to accessing nostalgia and to evoking the romance and high drama of love, unrequited, gained or lost. They are not always accurate. The past tends be a bit hypnotic and under it’s spell we’re able to mix and match fact and fiction.  I’ve learned to be cautious as memories change through time

In my case things are sometimes skewed in a manner that places me in a more favorable light.  Have you experienced that one? It’s an awful wake up call when someone else tells the more accurate version of your story. Grim business.

Looking back can be invaluable and it can be dangerous.  It can provide major information about what works and what doesn’t.  It can keep us from making the same mistakes again and again.  But, looking back needs to be a glance and nothing more.

I’m reminded that on most automobile mirrors these days you’ll find these words of warning.  “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear!”  Growing older has the same effect.  Distant memories that had little impact or importance in my life many years ago have, in some cases, found their true value with the passing of time.

We never know when something is going to send us hurling back to some forgotten or misplaced memory.  There is a street sign near my home that suddenly whisked me across decades to rediscover something wonderful.    I’d never really taken the time to pronounce the odd word until yesterday.  “IONIA.”  Eye-On-Ya.  And then I made the connection.

My mother would embrace me as a small boy and place her face tightly against my cheek.  As her eyelashes brushed my skin she’d whisper, “I’m keeping my eye on ya!”   I would squeal with delight.

Memories. They aren’t all as beautiful as that mini portrait of my mother but they are a remarkable and ever changing psychic landscape.   I hope your year ahead is filled with opportunities to make new, fine memento’s to revisit in the decades to come.  When they reappear, enjoy them.  Learn from them.  But, try to hold on to your perspective as you celebrate life in the present tense. May the past inform, caution and comfort you; decorate but not distract as you live each day in gratitude and trust.

Happy New Year.   Make it memorable!


Paul Williams

Paul Williams is a singer, songwriter, actor, recovery advocate and has been a fixture on the American cultural scene since the seventies. His book Gratitude and Trust is now available.