An Ode to Gord

Gord Downie — Frontman of The Tragically Hip

I used to write. It was how I sorted the shit from the cream. How I sifted out the bull, the baggage, the anchors. I haven’t written something not work related in so long… Seems fitting, yet disappointing that it took someone passing to shake me from a rut I didn’t even know I was in. Cobwobs dusted. The dream ends when the phone rings.

Today, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip passed away. It’s weird how the memories bubble up and how little control we have over what ones we can call back.

What is nostalgia? Not sure, but I reckon it feels like the reflection of all the hard fought lessons I’ve learned. The dumber I was, the more I learned, the more it hits. Right now, it’s hitting hard, like an open icer from Scotty Stevens. Ask Lindros. It’s smoky, faded. Thick and real. Why are memories so hard to pin down? Maybe it’s because as we learn and grow, our operating system updates. When we reach back for those memories, they’re in a different location and have been hewed, altered by what we now know. Coulda been the Willie Nelson, coulda been the wine.

Which memories stick the most? Honestly, it’s the asinine, the stupid, the embarrassing. The deep joys that are rare to find. The love found and love painfully lost. All the times that things were fine — not retrievable. Huh. Maybe the events we remember are those that moved the needle the most. Those melodies come back to me. Time beyond our heartbeat.

I think that’s pretty similar to how most of us experience life. Things happen so fast that we have no chance at making sense of them until we look back after the fact. So most of what we think or remember of our lives are the altered versions of the memories we’re looking back at. Maybe the modern curse is we’re now wired to overvalue what’s ahead and undervalue what’s happening right now? Don’t look at me, I don’t have the answers. Just his music at work.

The Hip’s music is laced through almost every significant memory I can tease out. The bush parties with the fist fights, campfires and cop lights and every cottage weekend with those bucklin’ booze blends.

Deep down Gordie, I want to thank you. I want you to know how influential your songs have been to all these blurred memories I’m working at recalling. You are always in view. I’ll do better at stopping and smelling the roses, hugging those around now since I’ve missed the chance with you. I’ll dig deep and have the hard conversations we keep tucked up under. No dress rehearsal.

I will keep the memories coming. Armed with will and determination and grace, too.

Still learning,