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It is an easy argument to make that most insights aren’t the result of something you were thinking about, but something you reacted to that was connected to some, seemingly, insignificant event. Of course, the real trick is to recognize when you’ve descended into the ‘Valley of Insight’ and emerged unscathed and far wiser from the trip. My, most recent, journey came, not by way of a philosophical dialogue with my academic and professional brethrens, but over a light, family breakfast, after having completed a morning run. I was the last one at the table and after the, usual, morning pleasantries; my son asked I, if I enjoyed my morning run.

“Absolutely,” I replied. ‘Between the cool morning air, the sun, the early morning calm and my music, it is completely relaxing.”

In that fifteen-year-old-contempt-for-anything-that-preceded-his-birth-tone-of-voice, he said, “Dad, you can only listen to so much Motown, Rat Pack and James Taylor before it starts to get boring.”

“Listen, beltless one, I have more cassettes in my collection than you know.”

In, what can only be described as the quiet moment before the storm, he looked at me with eyes that had just seen the end of civilization and said, “Cassettes?”

“Well, duh,” I said. “What else would fit in my Cassette Player?”

Through squinted eyes and clenched teeth, he said, “You mean to tell us that you’ve been running outside, where people can see you, listening to music through a CASSETTE PLAYER!!”

“Most of the music I recorded from my albums I have, labeled, on an individual cassette.”

“Yes, son. You see back in the day, when artists could actually sing, they created a body of work. While most of their work was good, there were always those songs that you didn’t want to hear, but didn’t take away from the artist work. So, those of us, from that era, would remove the ALBUM from its COVER,

My son grimaced,

“…And we’d place it on the RECORD PLAYER,

He closed his eyes and his head started to shake,


“…Put the NEEDLE down on the album, press the red RECORD button on the CASSETTE RECORDER and tape the songs we’d want to hear onto the CASSETTE. When we came to a song we didn’t want to hear, we’d press the PAUSE button on the CASSETTE PLAYER. Each side of a CASSETTE could run between 30 minutes of TAPE up an hour. I, typically, went with 45 minutes per side.”

He snapped the wheat toast in half and said, “I don’t believe I’m hearing this! You can download music from a website, into the music player we bought you for your birthday and you’re STILL using a cassette player?”

“Well, I said, “Don’t be so quick to judge. In an odd sort of way, music listeners from my era were the trailblazers for, what you now call, the individual play list. We were limited by the technology that we had, but it was our way of getting around the problems we had with the 8 TRACK.”

“The what?”

“Never mind, I said. “Just know that most advances occur because there were a group of people on the forefront trying to mold it into something that makes sense.”


“Hey, it’s not easy being a trailblazer, y, know.”

He stood up from the table, glared at me and said, “You’re not my old man. You’re an alien life form. And consistent with your inadequate technology, your time machine misfired and landed you here in the 21st century when you were supposed to be somewhere in the 1980’s. I suggest you contact the mother ship and let them know that you’ve been found out.” He grabbed his Lacrosse ‘D’ Pole and stormed outside.

I turned to my wife, who had remained silent throughout the conversation and said, “Well, that’s the burden and angst of being a trailblazer.”

She took a sip from her coffee mug, leaned toward me and said, “Tell me, really, who are you?”

© 2013 Lee E. Meadows
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